High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On the Record: The Return of the Burdon Bunch

Beginning in the fall of 1965 with “It’s My Life” (Dell ranked #10), Eric Burdon and his group The Animals placed seven songs on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell... five of them in the Top 100!

In the summer of 1966 the Animals were back in the barn with the double-sider “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Cheating.”

"Don't Bring Me Down" is a powerhouse of a song produced at the Brill Building by Mickey Most who also produced “It’s My Life." ”Don’t Bring Me Down” became another huge Dell hit for the Animals, coming to rest at #35 on my survey. The wailing, distorted fuzz guitar intro alone was nearly enough to rock the old barn off its foundation. In typical fashion Eric Burdon kept it real, delivering a passionate vocal performance steeped in streetwise toughness. Even on those hot Shady Dell nights the high voltage intensity of “Don’t Bring Me Down” always gave me shivers.

On the flip side of the 45 was “Cheating,” a bluesy number that also got its share of jukebox play. This Dell killer bee is ranked at #95.

At the Shady Dell the Animals were just as popular as the Stones and I dare say even more popular than the Beatles. Songs by the Animals resonated particularly well with Dellions who could relate to the blue collar working class sensibilities of Burdon’s boys.

A change in personnel and a change in creative direction coincided with the release of another Shady Dell 2-fer in the spring of 1967. “When I was Young” b/w “A Girl Named Sandoz” was the first single released by the newly formed group called Eric Burdon and the Animals, a band that had made a seamless transition from traditional blues rockers to exponents of British psychedelia. Heavy on drama and guitar distortion and featuring a shouting Eric Burdon telling it like it was, “When I Was Young“ hit Dell rats right smack in the bread basket and wound up at #53 on my Dell hits list.

The fab flip, the drug-referencing “Sandoz,” put Dell knights in a daze and was played heavily for many weeks, landing at #90 on my survey.

A few months after the release of “When I was Young”/"A Girl Named Sandoz" the Burdon brigade stormed the Dell again - this time with "San Franciscan Nights," a song that became a Summer of Love classic.

I enjoyed "Sandoz" and the other new recordings by Eric Burdon's reinvented group. However, my enjoyment was tempered by an uneasy feeling. I began to experience an internal tug-of-war between my devotion to the traditional Dell songs of the past and my undeniable fascination with the bold new sounds of psychedelia, acid rock, hard rock, and heavy metal.

Popular music was changing rapidly and that included the music being played on the Dell jukebox. Edgy, hard driving sounds by bands like the Jefferson Airplane, the Electric Prunes, the Blues Magoos and Count Five were filling the slots once occupied by sweet soul and innocent pop. “Light My Fire” by the Doors loomed on the horizon. A new era was upon us. For me, popular music was losing its soul and inspiration and was becoming a guilty pleasure.

Have a Shady day!

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