Eric Burdon, ”Til Your River Runs Dry’ – Album Review
”Til Your River Runs Dry’ is a vibrant and dynamic record made by one of the elder statesmen of rock and roll, Eric Burdon. Chances are he won’t win over any new fans with this fine platter, but the old fans will rejoice that voice is back.
Burdon sounds like a man on a mission here. He has been doing his musical thing for 50 years and counting, but his spirit and soul are as youthful as ever. At age 71, Burdon has seen, heard and lived it all, and he brings that experience to the songs on this new LP.
Things kick off with the album’s first single, ‘Water,’ which is a dynamic rocker overflowing with soul. When he sings, “Hopelessness has seized the land / I will not beg I will demand / I will not give up and one day soon / The truth will spill into your sitting room“, you’re certain he means every word. The song was inspired by a chance meeting Burdon had several years ago with Mikhail Gorbachev, with water being tagged as a possible major problem facing the world, but he uses it as a metaphor for much more. His band delivers a solid, hard rocking groove with just the right amount of grit.
On ‘Memorial Day,’ Burdon sings of the emotions, the realities and the legacy of war. He wonders who will be remembered on Memorial Day, throwing loved ones, poets, hippies, and Spartans all in together as parts of the equation. “It’s the rich man’s war but the poor will pay / Innocence is lost and guilt will fade in time,” he sings on one of the album’s most engaging tracks. This should be a staple on classic rock radio.
Elsewhere, ‘The Devil And Jesus’ evokes a gospel-blues feel while ‘Bo Diddley Special’ summons up the spirit of the late, great Elias McDaniel (aka Bo Diddley), paying the man a very sincere tribute. ‘Invitation To The White House (It Was A Dream)’ is a straight, late night-styled blues about a president (no names are mentioned) seeking guidance from Burdon. He gives some advice to the imaginary leader, “War is an addiction and the junkies don’t want to stop / They’re making tons of money with every drip of blood that drops / If you want to be a hero let’s fix America first.” He soon realizes, “It was just a dream I had on my mind and when I woke up this morning no president could I find.”
‘Old Habits Die Hard‘ might be the strongest branch on the whole tree here as Mr. Burdon deliveres a fierce vocal that defies his 71 years on the planet. He refers to it as “the rebel song” saying he put himself in character of a younger man. Though that may be the case, there’s a lot of autobiography in the lyric here as well as it brims with attitude and anger. Musically, it’s straight ahead, top-shelf rock and roll. ‘Medicine Man’ is a haunting tune that reminds us of the old standard ‘St. James Infirmary’ to some degree. Delivered in a moody bluesy groove, it rings out like a modern day classic.
The key to most of the album is, it sounds vintage and familiar, but thoroughly a spawn of 2013 at the same time. Though not exactly a ‘concept album,’ the various themes of the songs ultimately do tie together in an interesting fashion. Like many of his peers, Burdon isn’t going away quietly to the retirement home. He has obviously poured a lot of heart and soul into the making of this record, proving himself to be as contemporary as he is classic. Well done Mr. Burdon…well done!