The Animals

Gratefully Dead 1964-1968

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Sidestepping the horrendous title, Gratefully Dead 1964-1968, it's nice to see an Animals compilation that digs a bit deeper into their catalog, album tracks, B-sides, and curios, as opposed to rehashing the same old hits ad nauseam. The first ten tracks are mainly covers of blues and R&B tunes that were staples in the early Animals repertoire circa 1964 to 1966, such as "Dimples," "Bright Lights Big City," "Talkin' 'Bout You," and "Smokestack Lightning." The remaining 11 tracks from 1967 and 1968 are credited to the second lineup of the band now called Eric Burdon & the Animals, who plunge into psychedelic blues by way of bizarre tunes such as "Gratefully Dead," "It's All Meat" (which is a sped-up "Spoonful"), "Closer to the Truth," "Year of the Guru," and "White Houses." Rounding out the set is Eric Burdon's 1971 hit with War, "Spill the Wine," and while not an actual Animals track, it's still nice to have it tacked on as a bonus. Those only familiar with "The House of the Rising Sun," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," or "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" should definitely pick up this disc -- and then seek out Winds of Change and The Twain Shall Meet.

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