My Secret Life consists of 13 tracks that form a loose song cycle revolving around Eric Burdon's love of American music, specifically R&B, soul, blues, and jazz. While that theme dominates the entire record it is especially true on the eight tunes penned or co-written by Burton. "Can't Kill the Boogieman" is a heartfelt tribute dedicated to John Lee Hooker featuring Burdon's cherished memories of the blues legend sung over the tune of Hooker's classic "Boogie Chillen." He also shades/characterizes such artists as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Philly Joe Jones, Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Otis Redding, and Chet Baker with first person observations, a skill no doubt honed with a foray into writing his autobiography Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: A Memoir. Burdon's voice is in fine shape, and he effortlessly jumps from soft spoken passages to his trademark blues grit that remains instantly recognizable from his days as vocalist of the Animals in the '60s. What really makes this effort stand out from previous solo albums is the music itself. Instead of relying on the vocals to carry the music, My Secret Life allows the music to flow with unrestrained character darting off in several eclectic directions. "Once Upon a Time" apes both the Band and Van Morrison circa 1970, "The Secret" has slight elements of world rhythms, "Factory Girl" and "Highway 62" are dominated by a snaky Memphis guitar reminiscent of Pops Staples, and "Black and White World" (not the Elvis Costello tune) combines a breezy Hammond B-3 organ penetrated by a hyper ska beat. This disc should please any Burdon or Animals fan, but, more importantly, it may gain him some new listeners as well.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell