I’ve never been entranced enough by Eric Burdon to decide whether he was clueless clod or sneaky smart, but for sure he’s one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s nostalgia entries. Whatever happened in the ’60s, he was there to soak it up and emote it back in his pitch-challenged, Negro-worshipping bray—Denmark Street pop, Brill Building pop, copyright hustlers’ blues. His undiscriminating enthusiasm plus a ruthlessly professional band helps the stuff go down, most remarkably the hippie trilogy he (co-)wrote himself: “San Franciscan Nights,” “Monterey,” and the dumbfounding “Sky Pilot,” a depiction of an American serviceman so dense or opaque it’s visionary. “A Girl Named Sandoz,” on the other hand, is a bad trip.
This 43-song retrospective on the legendary Austin head case proves once and for all that he didn’t write 43 songs for the memory book, and that almost every good one he did write was about something spooky—attack alligators, the Bermuda Triangle, Lucifer in all his lurid guises. Garage-rock wellspring, check; psychedelic wellspring, double-check; 13th Floor Elevators top Quicksilver Messenger Service, check and double-check. Lost genius, not exactly.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 28, 2005