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Secret Lives, But Not on Purpose

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My Secret Life is a nostalgic album by Eric Burdon.  That sounds very like the review of ‘Til Your River Runs Dry, and I’ll make the same excuses for the man in this instance as I did in the other review.  He should be able to be nostalgic without many of us saying too much about it other than “thanks, Eric.”

There are a good few albums coming out these days by Baby Boomers covering songs from their youth.  That’s one kind of nostalgic trip. There’s McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom, Clapton’s Old Sock, and Jeff Lynne’s Long Wave—to name a few—and they all share the goal of exploring and showcasing early influences.  These are good albums and no one could criticize any one of those artists, who have been in the music business for fifty or so years, for indulging themselves this way. These albums most certainly have their place, though aren’t they a little like musicology?

Musicology or New Tunes

It’s up to the listener of course, but I have to admit that I care more for Kristofferson’s shaky voice singing brittle new tunes on Feeling Mortal than, say, Clapton going through some of his early influences on Old Sock. Both albums are interesting, but one is more expressive of the person than the other. Kristofferson exposes his past in a different way than Clapton, Lynne or McCartney does. This 2004 album by Burdon, one I missed at the time because I wasn’t looking I guess, is nostalgic—but brilliant Burdon also. And that’s the main thing, this is Burdon in 2004, still great to hear today and fascinating to consider in terms of his place in the rock and roll catalogue.

He’s thinking back and creating new songs, but any album that begins with a song entitled “Once Upon a Time” and referencing high school is going to be nostalgic,

“Once upon a time when I was in high school
I was in love with a lady she treated me so cool
I was driving an Chevy '72
It had four on the floor, 120 it would do
And I remember Marvin Gaye singing
‘Let's Get it On’”



It does work though.  It’s hard to believe 2004 is now so long ago.  Once we do, though, we realize Burdon’s nostalgia does not interfere with this album working as well as his work from his younger days with the Animals and War.


On its release in 2004, it was his first album of new tunes in over sixteen years and it was meant to be a comeback album.  He followed it up with an EP with The Greenhornes, Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes, and both had some success, but nothing like one might expect from such work by such an artist.

Lost Audiences

Audiences lose track of their rock heroes in this age of unstable media. His early fans, after all, would have upgraded to 35mm SLR cameras from the Brownies back in the sixties and viewed their pictures on slide projectors—if they were lucky enough to afford that format. Vinyl LPs, 45s, Detroit cars, AM radio, and even wringer washers and clotheslines were the standards when he started pumping out hits.

We are in an age when rockers, revolutionaries, and rebels are in old-folks homes.  We hear The Clash in grocery stores where we used to hear Muzak. Clotheslines are actually outlawed in many communities now, no knickers on the line, and it’s nice to think some computer screens may bring up War and Animals and iPods replace shelves upon shelves of vinyl and Burdon plays in headphones and homes.  It would be nicer still to think he may play on turntables in old folks’ homes at the same time, in boats off the Keys, retirement condos everywhere, and get into the heads of those listening to The Greenhornes and Vintage Trouble and other beholden groups.

 My Secret Life is a collection of great tunes deserving a listen now.

Check out our review of 'Til Your River Runs Dry.





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