In many ways, Eric Burdon is still that leather-throated scruff who rose to fame barking “I’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place” in the mid-1960s, giving voice to the most visceral feeling of a generation of GIs serving in a meaningless war.
Mellowing with age? Trying bellowing.
There’s something different, however, moving just beneath the surface of “Water,” this devastating howl in the face of promises not kept — offered under cover of a paean to conservation, from Burdon’s forthcoming album. ‘Til Your River Runs Dry is due January 29, 2013 via ABKCO Records.
Fast forward nearly five decades, and he’s still surrounded by damnable fools who just don’t get it, liars who must be exposed, and politicians headed for their comeuppance. He wonders where it will all end — with a merciful god’s forgiveness, or with a fiery rebuke — but, ultimately, nothing can stop his own flinty indictments. Whatever their fate, a reading of the wrongs is a good place to start.
Contrast that with “I’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”: If Burdon sounded broken and scared back when that Animals track once ruled the charts, today you’ll find him harnessing that anger, ready to fight for what he believes in.
As he rages, the music behind “Water” matches Burdon’s sense of rough moral drama. It’s all jagged guitars and gutteral rhythms, getting closer, louder and more dangerous as things progress, until a group of background singers joins in for the raucous chorus.
“Water” roars through like a charging locomotive, as ceaseless as Burdon’s own sobering condemnations.