Eric Burdon & the Animals / Eric Burdon

Winds of Change

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Winds of Change opened the psychedelic era in the history of Eric Burdon & the Animals -- although Burdon's drug experiences had taken a great leap forward months earlier with his first acid trip, and he and the group had generated some startlingly fresh-sounding singles in the intervening time, it was Winds of Change that plunged the group headfirst into the new music. The record was more or less divided into two distinctly different sides, the first more conceptual and ambitious psychedelic mood pieces and the second comprised of more conventionally structured songs, although even these were hard, mostly bluesy and blues-based rock, their jumping-off point closer to Jimi Hendrix than Sonny Boy Williamson. The band's new era opened with waves washing over the title track, which included sitar and electric violin, while Burdon's voice, awash in reverb, calmly recited a lyric that dropped a lot of major names from blues, jazz, and rock. "Poem by the Sea" was a recitation by Burdon, amid a swirl of echo-drenched instruments, and it led into one of the group's handful of memorable covers from this period, "Paint It Black" -- driven by John Weider's electric violin and Vic Briggs' guitar, and featuring an extended vocal improvisation by Burdon, their approach to the song was good enough to make it part of the group's set at the Monterey International Pop Festival that June, and also to get a spot in the documentary movie that followed. "The Black Plague" opens with a Gregorian chant structure that recalls "Still I'm Sad" by the Yardbirds, and was another vehicle for Burdon's surreal spoken contributions. There were also, as with most of the group's work from this period, a few easily accessible tracks that could make good singles, in this instance "Good Times" and "San Franciscan Nights," a Top Ten record in various countries around the world in the last quarter of 1967, although, as Alan Clayson points out in his notes, the latter song was overlooked in England for nearly 12 months after its release elsewhere, and then appeared as the B-side to the relatively straightforward, brooding, moody rocker "Anywhere." Burdon was so inspired by Jimi Hendrix's music that he wrote one of the psychedelic era's rare "answer" songs, "Yes I Am Experienced," as an homage to the guitarist; the latter's influence could also be heard in "It's All Meat," the LP's closing track, and a song that calls to mind an aspect of this band that a lot of scholars in earlier years overlooked -- the fact that Briggs, Weider, et al. had the skills to make music in that style that was convincing and that worked on record, on their terms.

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