Monday, April 23, 2012

Eric Goes Solo

ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-Help Me Girl/See See Rider Spain Decca ME 283 1966

Hands down my fave Animals period was after Alan Price left in the summer of '65. I've nothing against Price musically it's just that the period in which ex-Mike Cotton Sound keyboard player Dave Rowberry joined the band they had finally evolved into their own and didn't need those weak Chuck Berry/Jimmy Reed covers. Rowberry also brought some more groovy organ playing and the band got grittier and freakier. Pretty soon ex-Nashville Teen Barry Jenkins was sitting on John Steel's drum stool too (February 1966). Well that period with Rowberry and Jenkins didn't last long either as by the beginning of 1967 Eric had chucked the lot (save Jenkins) and with a slew of new faces they became Eric Burdon & The Animals.  The name was confusing applied in the U.S. to a lot of the Rowberry/Jenkins period "Animals" material but today's topic was the first U.K./Euro use of the full "Eric Burdon & The Animals" moniker.

The first 45 by "Eric Burdon and the Animals" was slated to be September 1966's "Help Me Girl" b/w Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not To Come" in the U.K. as Decca F 12502, the press adverts were already running but for some reason the single was cancelled. One month later Decca F 12502 was relaunched with "See See Rider (See What You've Done)" on the flip side (the U.S. would have to wait till March 1967 when MGM released "Help Me Girl" b/w "That Ain't Where It's At" as MGM K13636). Today's copy comes from Spain and was released some time in 1966.

"RAVE" March 1966

"Help Me Girl" shows the sounds that were created when, at the annual Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in August 1965 The Animals (then Burdon, Rowberry, bassist Chaz Chandler, guitarist Hilton Valentine and Steel), launched the one off "Animals Big Band" featuring a four piece horn section. And why not? Burdon was spending a lot of time at all the London 60's "in crowd" night spots (see N.M.E clip below from The Cromwellian) with the likes of Zoot Money, Georgie Fame. Chris Farlowe and a host of other's from the London Hammond n' horns mafia (period pieces from the U.K. music weeklies seemed to include photos of Burdon out on the town as a matter of practice). "Help Me Girl", is, in my estimation, the result of that. With it's full brass section, organ, flute and vibes it sounds akin to anything Georgie Fame was doing at the time. Burdon even pushed the number on one of the final installments of "Ready! Steady! Go!", or so says "Disc & Music Echo", because of course there's no clip left to verify it!!

"See See Rider" of course is an old blues chestnut, often credited to Ma Rainey, among others. Both Chuck Willis and Lavern Baker cut versions of it which no doubt brought it to the attention of Mitch Ryder who covered it first using part of the track in a "medley" of his hit "Jenny Take A Ride" which was released in November of '65. The Animals version is a pure and amazing example of the post-Price period I was raving about earlier.  From it's hypnotic organ trills by Rowberry, to Valentine's gritty guitar bashing the whole thing pumps along at a go-go '66 pace that's purely indicative of the brief period before L.S.D. changed it all with it's breaks and imminently danceable groove.

"Oh shit, him AGAIN!": New Musical Express, November 29, 1966

Both sides are available in a host of places, my fave being the faithful and excellent quality (and still in print after 20+ years!) U.S. MGM CD "The Best of Eric Burdon & The Animals 1966-1968".

Hear "Help Me Girl":

Hear "See See Rider":

See a clip of Eric Burdon & the Animals playing "See See Rider" live on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat" in 1967:


diskojoe said...

Great post. I think that for some reason Eric Burdon is somewhat underrated as a singer. "Help Me Girl" is a good song. It's too bad you don't hear it too much on oldies radio.

That Rave cover is pretty gincy, although "beauty" & "romance" are two words you woldn't use to describe old Eric!

That piccy of Eric & Peter Noone is pretty ironic in the sense that they were probably the biggest money makers for MGM Records in the mid-60s.

Finally, did you see the cover article on Steve Marriott in the latest MOJO to hit these shores?

Wilthomer said...

I saw Noone interview Burdon and Robby Krieger on this short lived VH-1 show called "My Genration" in the early 90's that he hosted and he tried to play off this MGM records/London in crowd fraternity thing with Eric and he was having none of it and pretty much treating Peter like he wasn't a "real" rock n' roller. Sorta sad in a way. Snagged the "Mojo" on Saturday, deja vu as "Uncut" did a Marriott cover story last summer!!

Out In The Street said...

Found Help Me Girl last year at a carboot sale while on vacation on the IoW. Really dig it, love the orchestration.