Eric Burdon, Soul of Man

Garrett Calcaterra

Eric Burdon, Soul of Man [SPV]

Is there honestly any way for the guy who fronted the Animals and War to make an album in the twilight of his career and have it stand up to his previous body of work? It’s conceivable, I suppose, but Eric Burdon certainly hasn’t done it with Soul of a Man. The solo album is by no means bad, it’s just — how do I say? — mwuuuh.

The production value is top-notch, and Burdon has assembled a great ensemble of musicians, but the sound is too clean. If you close your eyes for a few moments and crank up the album you half expect to find yourself in a Las Vegas casino when you open your eyes again, and there Eric Burdon will be up on stage, dancing around in a leisure suit, his doo-wop girls singing back-up on a riser, his gray haired and pony-tailed guitarist making tired guitar grimace faces as he plays a blues solo, his hip black bassist laying down smooth bass lines, his frazzle-haired keyboardist twiddling his fingers over three keyboards, two organs, and a piano…and well, you get the idea.

The album has its moments when the band lays down a catchy groove and Burdon leans his head back and sings, but too often the songs regress into worn and staid blues or rock territory, and at times Burdon’s vocals are gimmicky, almost a mockery of his old voice.

On the flip side, let's be fair: the album is actually quite pleasant. While it doesn’t have any of the edge, innovation, or social relevance that Eric Burdon’s past music is so famous for, who can blame the guy? He has been doing this for some forty odd years.

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