George Starostin's Reviews



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Michael J. D'Aversa (10.05.99)

From what I've been reading of your reviews, you have really great taste (aka my opinions are usually very similar, which is kind of unusual actually). Anyway, I was checking out your reviews on The Animals, and noticed that you had the same exact opinion on their stuff as I did a year ago at this time. Namely, that before A. Price left they were great, and then Burdon turned them into a crappy hippy pop band. I, too, only had that double greatest hits cd, and thought that was probably all I was going to need for my overflowing collection. Then I saw them do a song called "Don't Bring Me Down" on that VH1 Ed Sullivan thing. Now, I'm guessing that you, like me, are not easily influenced very strongly by others opinions on music(that's why us 60's throwbacks exist in the first place), but you gotta believe me when I say this song is vital. It, along with one called "Inside Looking Out", and "When I Was Young" are really no different from the stuff with Price except they sacrifice some of the moodiness for "rocking out". The cd they are on is kinda hard to find (though still in print), but you should be used to that. It's volume #2 of the regular greatest hits cd, but instead titled Eric Burdon And The Animals. The reat of the cd is made up of only the wheat(no chaf) of the hippy animals. So, instead of the existensial crap on Winds Of Change, you get tight little pop hits like "SF Nights". So, at least it makes it tolerable, and even slightly enjoyable. To wrap up this long letter(sorry), I'd strongly recommend you get this if only for those three awesome "transition" songs that are just as good as the original group(probably because Price was the only member who had left yet-even Chandler was still there.

<> (16.08.2000)

music to me is art.the early animals stuff is embarassing..english kids acting like black men.only the hits lie "rising sun""get out of this place" etc. are noteworthy,in my humble opinion.the later stuff by eric burdon and the animals is much more imaginative,in my opinionand price was an asshole...just check out the bob dylan movie,"don't look back"...yea,i guess his keyboard playing ruled but so did the innovative and chance-taking eric burdon and the animals lp's.rock-critics,in my opinion have fascistic streaks and its a shame they never expand their critic pandering music gets boring...excite me if even it gets a little goofy or pretentious!

<> (03.11.2000)

In their early days one of the greatest sixties band! They were no songwriters but they made really outstanding hard versions of old R'n'B classics. My favourit is "It's my life" - a timeless number with great riffs that sounds still fresh after 35 years!

Sergey Zhilkin (02.01.2001)

Ooh! How I love these Animals! Really, that's what the 60-ies are famous for - these guitar riffs, these vocals, this 'forget-about-everything&let-the-world-stop' mood. By now I have only one compilation called The best of the Animals (you can't even imagine how it's hard now to find any Animals', Beach boys', Hollies' and Dylan's albums on CD in Moscow) and I must confess that I love it. One of their songs is still going round in my head. We ga-a-tta ge-e-e-t out of this pla-a-ce if it's the la-a-ast thing we e-e-va du-u-u-u!!!! Terrific! I'm starting to search for their albums all through Moscow right now.
I have very strange feeling from their music. I think it's called 'the feeling of roaring 60-ies' and nobody knows how I love it. I really don't want it to vanish. Still, even after having fun from their music for hours, I can't give them more than 3 stars.

Stefan Marklund (16.09.2001)

Hi, I'm a long time fan of The Animals living in Sweden. Why The Animals ? well they seemed to be honest and with a great feel for blues music. OK, some of the guys weren´t really skilled musicians -some were ... But together they had a certain sound,style and force that made them special - to me.
Eric Burdon sang/sings with an unique honest rough voice that fit in so well. Alan Price was a great player of 'keyboard blues' The lasted only a short period on 'the top' and I think this was due to the hectic life they lived and also caused by bad management .....
I've met with Hilton Valentine, John Steel & Dave Rowberry a few years ago and they seemed really nice persons and could tell a lot of memories from the past....

Ratko Hribar (02.11.2001)

Yeah, I love these guys. The Animals are one of the best bands that came out of the 60's, but it's tragic that they collapsed so soon after they were formed. It's even more tragic that Eric Burdon was able to keep their name and release some atrocious records later on. Just like the mighty Zeppelin these guys were no songwriters, but they did know how to make magnificent arrangements of old blues classics. Their early songs are still fresh today, and they probably wont ever sound dated. The band members weren't unbelievably impressive musicians by any means, but they were professionals. The only persons in the band that were better than just professional were naturally Eric Burdon with his perfect vocal and Alan Price with his keyboard-oriented magical touch. From 1964 to 1966 they were probably one of the best bands in the world, but alas, after Eric Burdon started recording such trash like Winds Of Change they were forever lost to all of us. Burdon did make some decent records afterwards, but they had nothing in common with the unique sound of the original Animals. The interesting combination of the beautiful organ riffs, nasty vocals, atmospheric moods and even the acceptable, but not exactly awesome guitar back up made them a special experience in those days, and Burdon was unable to repeat it after the 60's. Well, I've actually heard all of their early work (everything from 1964 to 1966, that is), and even some later stuff by Eric Burdon + whoever. Luckily, I've heard all of the songs from The Animals, The Animals On Tour, Animal Tracks and Animalisms. Except for them, I've also heard some songs from Winds Of Change, Love Is and Sun Secrets.

Kerist Wood (15.11.2001)

Haven't you heard any animal's stuff from the hippy era which includes; Every One Of Us (THE BEST album he and his summer of love boys EVER released!!!!) and The Twain Shall Meet???? Maybe I'm just lucky because I've got a fanatic Dad who bought them 'when he was young' and I went through them when I was the same age as he was. But, Winds Of Change can get terribly dischordant- BUT- That was Eric. He was a bit of a wannabe Guru, you can't escape that. Refer to the song on Every One Of Us - 'Year of the Guru', where he does a great impersonation of Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'...and pulls it off!!!!! So, I think the later Eric & NA were great, but, if all I had to go on was Winds of Change and Love Is (which has got shiners on it) I would probably have the same opinion as you.

Nicholas Rogerson (28.11.2002)

The Animals are an overlooked band, particularly when one considers that they have a completely distinctive sound. They produce a melodious yet ominous and dark sound. Eric Burdon has one of the best voices in rock music. Infact I'm tempted to say the best, as I hear him at this precise moment, delivering powerfully and spine tinglingly on 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place'. Alan Price is the perfect accomplice in the creation of this uniquely dark bluesy sound. He is a truly outstanding organist/keyboardist. Again i am tempted to call him the greatest. Certainly he churns out some of the most exhilarating keyboard lines in music. Although the Animals were not a particularly proficient band at writing their own music, they covered blues and rock classics and improved them. Indeed, alongside The Rolling Stones, I believe they were the best cover band of the mid 1960s. Although they did not write a lot of their own material, when they did it was often good. A good example of this is 'I'm Cryin'. Beautiful melody. Essentially The Animals were an excellent, tight musical outfit, who were distinctive and talented. They deserve a more prominent position in the pantheon of rock music.

Chelsea Frank (05.08.2004)

Finally, someone giving credit where it's due. I agree with you that the Animals are sadly passed over, usually only "House of the Rising Sun" is mentioned when talking about the British Invasion.
"House" and "Boom Boom" are two of the greatest R&B covers of the time. I don't know if you know this, but Alan Price had another hit after leaving The Animals, a rendition of "I put a Spell on You". Alan Price may have been the real key to the greatness of The Animals, but you still have to dig Burdon's vocals. Of all the skinny little white boys trying to sing the blues I think Burdon's efforts are some of the finest. "The Story of Bo Diddley" is another of my favorite Animals' songs, their take on the 'four mop tops from liverpool' and the rest of rock history is priceless. They take the energy and soul of the Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, blues and folk and jazz it up with Price's organ sound. Of the lesser bands of the British invasion, The Animals come out on top.


Mike Prill (22.12.99)

I think it sucks that no one has e-mailed anything bout the Animals george. These guys kick butt. 'The House of the Rising Sun' is one of my favorite songs from the 60's. In fact these guys are in my top 20 favorite bands (and i'm an early 90's Seattle grunge rocker myself). Anyone who has any negative thinking about the animals needs to listen to this album. Sure they're not the beatles or the stones, but hey, who is??? And it sucks they had little longevity, but hey, who does??? Buy it when you go to the music store, you wont regret it.

Ratko Hribar (02.11.2001)

This is a extremely good debut with some everlasting classics thrown in now and then. First off, the mixing of the vocals is a little disappointing, which is especially visible on 'Talkin' 'Bout You'. Burdon's vocals are mixed more or less good, but not as sharp as they could have been (naturally, that is partially so because Burdon has a rough vocal). If I ignore the mixing of his vocals I'm left with the backing vocals which are also very poorly mixed, so they sound kinda cacophonic which irritates me. For instance, The Who had quite a lot of songs with additional vocals, but they were mixed much better and they sounded more natural (example: 'I Can't Explain'). Anyway, the instruments are mixed much better, so the final result is still satisfying. They do a bunch of covers (actually they ONLY do covers), and they already show they're good at it. 'House Of The Rising Sun' is a eternal classic which easily kicks Dylan's version of the same out of the window. This is a mind blowing epic that goes on for over 4 minutes which was pretty lengthy for the time. The brilliant main riff is out of this world, and the build up of the song is colossal with Price doing a mighty impressive job on the organ (he's my second favorite organ player, with Jon Lord being the first). Burdon's vocals suit the song perfectly, and the guitar also sounds really nice. Yeah, it's a shame that the remaining songs aren't so good. For me, the second best song is 'I'm Mad Again' with its slower tempo and organ swirls. 'The Girl Can't Help It' is also a good cover, but I don't exactly love Little Richard, so I'm left kinda unhappy. 'Blue Feeling' is much more enjoyable in my opinion, so I have no problems with that one. 'Talkin' 'Bout You' is incredible, a nice fast boogie which rolls along over seven minutes but still manages to sound entertaining. I especially enjoy the repetitive 'Shout' part with all those back up vocals screaming 'shout, shout, shout' and 'hee-ee hee-ee'. 'Memphis Tennessee' and 'I've Been Around' are solid songs too, but not quite as good as 'I'm Mad Again', 'Talkin' 'Bout You' and 'Gonna Send You Back To Walker'. No matter, they're still better than some other tracks but they just don't stand out so much. 'Baby Let Me Take You Home' is great, it starts with a short acoustic bit, and then the Price takes over. It's lightweight and even slightly silly, I agree, but it's catchy and up tempo. 'Gonna Send You Back To Walker' is one of my favorites here, a nice pop boogie with a delightful guitar sound and some 'whoa-hoa whoa-hoa' bits thrown in for good measure. 'The Right Time', 'Around And Around' and 'I'm In Love Again' are the unmemorable songs I could easily do without, but they're still much better than Burdon's solo stuff. I dunno how much I should give this album, a 8 seems too low, but a 9 to high. Let's say a low 9.


Ratko Hribar (02.11.2001)

You can call it the ultimate 60's masterpiece, or you can call it an collection of shitty R'n'B throwaways, that depends on your own musical taste and preferences. Myself, I call it a masterpiece, and indeed there isn't a single song here that I don't like, even more so, I honestly can't decide which is best, they're all very even. After some hard and lengthy thinking I guess my pick for the best track would be 'I Believe To My Soul', but the excellent 'I'm Crying' (great rhythm and harmonies) and 'Bright Lights Big City' are also extremely close. The opener 'Boom Boom' has some dumb pop lyrics, but the song itself is fast and full of dirty organ swirls. For some reason I get a kick out of hearing 'Dimples' at a high volume, cause it's basically a fast boogie, which makes my foot tap in a matter of seconds. 'I Ain't Got You' is also done perfectly well, but it's one of my least favorite tracks here, cause it strikes me as unmemorable. Some tracks are moody, and much more so than one would expect. That goes for 'Worried Life Blues' and 'How You Changed'. The other songs are also good and it's hard for me to give the "bad" moniker to any of them. Again, that's because they're very much even. It would be unfair to give this album less than a 10. It would also be unfair not to put this album in rotation at least once a month.


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Sergey Zhilkin (29.01.2002)

Was I wrong when in my very first comment about Animals in general I said that they were somewhat silly. Fact is that they are, on the other hand, a revolutionary and even angry band (a bit). See, this album was released in 1966 and that is the album many bands were dreaming about (now, who from white bands could produce such R'n'B sound at that time? Stones? Nope they were still busy with 'dirty' rock'n'roll. Pretty things? They couldn't use piano so well. Who else?). Sure enough, the next year many better R'n'B records were released but it was later and so far I believe that Animals were the best white blues band till 1967. And now this is the album, which shows that our dear friends know where to go. Even though previous records were pretty good I still think they were big toss-offs. But this one is different. Maybe because the main hero here is not Eric but his friend Mr. Alan Price (let's hear it for mr. Price, ladies and gentlemen!!!). His organ (or is it a piano?) sounds much louder now and brings a nice effect. You gotta admit that it saves several weak songs - 'I put a spell on you' and 'She'll return it' are among them. But the others are just great (except for pointless 'Clapping'). Alright, if not great then okay. I simply love 'One monkey don't stop no show' (it has bizarie chanting in the middle) and 'Outcast' (maybe my favourite Animals' song). 'Maudie' passes well but leaves not too much, 'Sweet little sixteen' is somewhat mediocre cover (sorry, maybe that's just me got tired of many 'SLS' covers) and 'What I'm living for' is also nice though, I could easily live without it. Other highlights are: 'You're on my mind' (dig this piano!), 'Squeeze her - tease her' (dig this piano!) and 'That's all I'm to you' (dig this piano!). So if you see this baby for nice price - don't even hesitate - buy it and (dig this piano!). Must be your first Animals record even though it doesn't have 'House of rising sun'.
PS. The reissue sounds great (dig this piano!) You even get to hear some decent songs as 'Don't bring me down', 'Cheating' and 'Boom boom'. Hope there're no old versions in print.
PPS. Dig this piano!!!!!

<> (25.01.2004)

The best song on this rare record that you don't seem to have on your own was a cover of the immortal " The Other Side of this Life" by I believe, Fred Neil.  Talking about piano! For my money one of the best songs the Animals ever did. Black, rolling, and understated. Eric Burdon sounding like a depressed barfly on his fourth or fifth drink. Really, I bought a 2-CD import of Animals singles just for this song.  (No, it is not the same one you have, I am kind of jealous.) Just as good as the version on Airplane's BILPH. ( Yes, I love Airplane, most of the time, I give them a three.) Check this song out! You'll love how Price modulates and modifies the piano theme at the beginning. A lost classic.

Grusse, Gregory B (22.03.2006)

I agree that the keyboards, especially the piano, are in fine form on the Animalisms album. However, the architect behind the masterful playing is Dave Rowberry not Alan Price. Alan Price had already moved on at this point and John Steele was replaced by Barry Jenkins. I also believe that Hilton Valentine's guitar playing is more prominent and skills fine tuned. Of course the old singles included in the repackaged version ('Boom Boom', 'Pretty Thing') do include Price on keyboard.


Jeff (11.06.2001)

This album is not as bad as you make it out to be. Not the very best album, but better than most of the San Francisco stuff of the time. And you even admit 'San Francisco Nights' is great. It is a period piece, that song and the album. I think you are just too hung up on the R & B stuff of the Animals, and anything later is bound to disappoint you. Sometimes one need to let go of expectations and enjoy the ride for what it's worth. Now I am on to the other EB & the animals album reviews.

<> (24.11.2002)

I agree with you, the owner of this sight obviously doesnt like 'the frisco years'. "Good times" is classic Burdon. 'Hotel Hell' is Eric's comment on touring. All in all along with Love is..... my favourite Eric Burdon stuff.

Pedro Andino (02.08.2003)

all your blabbing makes me sick! george! 'paint it black' by the animals suck but the poem 'it's all meat' rules! the psychedelic title track rules with that sitar! just like an american prayer this album is like a poem set to music that is underrated!


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Larry Olsen (15.04.2002)

Love Is, especially the entire fourth side ('Gemini' & 'The Madman') is some of the best true acid rock ever done. It is pathetic that anyone would attempt to critique these tracks without the benefit of at least two-hundred fifty micrograms of LSD in their system. It is something like sending Britney Spears to review a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The fourth side is right there alongside Procol Harum's Shine On Brightly as some of the finest examples of acid rock. I would almost kill to get a good copy of it.

Darren Finizio (07.06.2004)

i just love this album, not to mention all of the eric burdon and animals/eric burdon and war albums...i suppose if your a critic you tend to be critical, so your always talking about hook this and melody that...thing is, in the wide spectrum of music (including jazz or classical) the value of a "hook" is really quite irrelevant...i look at music as a spontaneous expression erupting out of blessed silence and im not too concerned with anything besides creativity and honesty...i find a whole lot of that on the eric burdon lps (post merseybeat)...i admire the lack of self-consciousnous in the music and the way he takes popular songs, quite often, and expands them into jazzed-out epics...eric is always fun and his voice always kicks ass...its where rock becomes "self-indulgent" that i begin to take an interest...its where rock becomes "pretentious" that im convinced of the power of the imagination, nobodys pretending anything -- just becoming something -- and i think thats grea t...erics take on "im an animal","rocky mountain high","ring of fire" and "madmen" are all beyond brilliant and im a trained jazz musician of sorts...all of this stuff is a ton of fun and its a shame you take things so serious but ,then, thats you...i disagree on your jefferson airplane reviews and your least favorite quicksilver songs (especially the slow pointalistic ones on shadygrove) are among my favorites...perhaps theres more than a grain of truth that you shouldnt be reviewing these albums unless your stoned on some drug and your adult judgements are put aside...the world of art can be a fun one when you just experience things: the ride can be beautiful,absurd,creepy,fun,functional -- whatever...a really good critic tells us what we're holding not what its end this review on a positive note im glad to see your reviewing some really good albums -- i just think your personal values are stifling and i wish you were more tolerant...a good 60s record is a recor d of a peculiar moment and thats what makes them so special -- read too much into it and you miss the point...but thats just me...good luck, my friend.


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Paul Watts (09.12.2005)

Isn't 'The Vision of Rassan' all about the 18th/19th century practice of luring blacks onto ships sailing from the West Indies and Africa to the US to work as slaves? Of course it is. This is where "make them work" comes in. On my original 1971 vinyl the second part of the song is called Roll On Kirk, which is indeed a play on "Roland Kirk". I'm no kind of authority on Roland Kirk but a quick Google search suggests he became Rahsaan Roland Kirk about 1970, which would have been shortly before this was recorded (and about the same time Muhammad Ali abandoned his slave name). So Eric and War even spelt the assumed name wrongly. The blind Rahsaan would frequently have "visions" (one of which led to him adopting the name Rahsaan) and his material had dealt with the same issues that this track deals with. Rahsaan had released an album entitled Volunteered Slavery in 1968, and another called "Rahsaan, Rahsaan" in 1970. So that clears that up.
The 'Tobacco Road' suite is engaging listening once or twice but lacks "relistenability". The sax solos on side 2 have a certain merit, and certainly War are an accomplished band, but for the most part EB doesn't even figure, except for the 'Mother Earth' parts and 'Birth', where Eric kindly points out the fact that "you first see light of day through the gap in your mother's legs" (which is not quite always the case). He goes on to say that most of us spend our lives trying to get back into a hole, and in the end they dig us a hole (which leads into 'Mother Earth'). No doubt this was quite a striking and confronting series of things to say on record at the time but these days it just seems silly. The sort of dorky thing Eric was always prone to.
As mentioned in the main review, the closer, 'You're No Stranger' is of little value, and might as well have been left off.
'Spill the Wine' was a chart hit the equal of 'House of the Rising Sun', and deservedly so. It still sounds marvellous. I always got the feeling the story was never finished, that there should have been another verse or two. It was already abridged by a minute or so for its 45rpm release, so making it longer on the LP should not have been a problem. He just had to think of a good ending. Eric should have finished the story instead of leaving us in limbo all these years.


Anthony Cantisano (11.01.2003)

This is an anthem. the real thing, as in Kant's thing in itself . Made in Los angeles with a local band. It's as fine and as healing as Mr. Burdon gets.


Conrad (25.01.2003)

Thought you might be interested in knowing that John Sterling was the guitar player for Love (Arthur Lee) in the later 70s and off and on through the 80s & early 90s. All of Arthur's music after Forever Changes is badly underrated and even some of the post False Start bands had their moments. I heard Sterling play some hot guitar with Arthur at some LA punk shows that Love played on.


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