Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Eric Burdon Band [extended]

  • The Black Man's Burdon [MGM, 1971] D+
  • Guilty! [MGM, 1971] B
  • Sun Secrets [Capitol, 1974] C

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Eric Burdon and War: The Black Man's Burdon [MGM, 1971]
On the front cover of this album is a black man in silhouette. On the back cover Eric, looking paunchy, rests his head in the crotch of a black woman straddled above him. He also holds her ankles. Inside the jacket seven men, presumably the band, occupy the background of a full-length photo of a grassy field. Six of the men are black; five are bare-chested. In the foreground recline two naked blondes who obviously belong in a centerfold. The left hand of one is thrown back to reveal a clean-shaven and possibly airbrushed underarm, so that her right does not quite conceal her pubic hair. Her companion hides her sex with both hands. The only man who is standing appears to be walking toward the women. He has removed the belt from his pants. D+

Eric Burdon/Jimmy Witherspoon: Guilty! [MGM, 1971]
Burdon has a clumsy knack for coming out on the other side of a bad idea--after "Monterey," which was just silly, "Sky Pilot" seemed transcendently silly. And while his stint with War symptomized his chronic racial confusion, he gets on quite well with Witherspoon--especially considering that 'Spoon is said to represent Kansas City class while Eric supposedly epitomizes Newcastle nowhere. Maybe the truth in both cases is less extreme. Anyway, neither singer comes up with anything definitive here, but both deal soulfully--sometimes almost indistinguishably--with these solid, politically tinged songs, and a sharp young guitarist named John Sterling provides a few highlights. B

Sun Secrets [Capitol, 1974]
In this age of fiberglass, Burdon's stage show appears genuinely demented--his guitar players look like head-comix versions of Chuck Berry and Panama Red, and on his second encore he holds the entire mikestand in his teeth, like a dirk. But when poor Eric was on the radio in Boston not long ago, more than one kid called in to ask how he did the guitar parts on "Layla." C