The Animals are an English rhythm and blues and rock band, formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. The band moved to London upon finding fame in 1964. The Animals were known for their gritty, bluesy sound and deep-voiced frontman Eric Burdon, as exemplified by their signature song and transatlantic No. 1 hit single, "House of the Rising Sun", as well as by hits such as "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", "It's My Life", "I'm Crying" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". The band balanced tough, rock-edged pop singles against rhythm and blues-orientated album material. They were known in the US as part of the British Invasion…
As the lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon was one of the British Invasion's most distinctive vocalists, with a searingly powerful blues-rock voice. When the first lineup of the group fell apart in 1966, Burdon kept the Animals' name going with various players for a few years. Usually billed as Eric Burdon & the Animals, the group was essentially Burdon's vehicle, which he used to purvey a far more psychedelic and less R&B-oriented vision. Occasionally he came up with a good second-division psychedelic hit, like "Sky Pilot"; more often, the music was indulgent, dating it almost immediately.
In the face of the legend that he once was, it's very fashionable to dismiss Eric Burdon's '70s-and-later output as little more than an afterthought – which may or may not be true. But from the moment 1988's I Used to Be an Animal kicks into groove, it's clear that Burdon has spent the last few years doing more than kicking over old traces. The putative soundtrack to the singer's recently published autobiography, I Used to Be an Animal chases that band's career through its own chops and changes, pitfalls and high points, but without ever actually looking back. Situations and ambitions are recalled, to be sure. But the ice-sharp production and soaring, anthemic attack merges memory with modernity, to produce an album that still turns unsuspecting heads around – "what is that you're playing?" The sharpest shock, of course, is the opening title track, a brittle slice of late-'80s funk rap that manages to blend themes as diverse as the Who's "Baba O'Riley," Disco Tex's "Get Dancing," and Falco's "Das Kommissar," and still comes up sassy and fresh.
A 19-track collection of otherwise unavailable live performances from 1966-1968, taken from shows in Melbourne, Stockholm, London, and the '67 Monterey Pop Festival, as well as radio and television broadcasts. Most of this dates from the psychedelic version of the band, which will disappoint those who are primarily interested in the group's rock/R&B prime. It's quite a good relic, though, with rough and ready execution by both Burdon and the band, and some unusual R&B and psychedelic material alongside the versions of hits like "Inside Looking Out," "Monterey," "San Franciscan Nights," and "When I Was Young." Sound ranges from fair to very good.
These are live or redone versions of Eric Burdon's solo hits and the hits he did with his 1960s group, the Animals