Eric Burdon & The Animals: The Black Plague
By 1966 The Animals had, for all intents and purposes disbanded. Lead singer Eric Burdon had discovered acid, and bassist Chas Chandler had discovered Jimi Hendrix. Everyone else went back to Newcastle it seems, everyone except Eric Burdon and recent drummer Barry Jenkins. They decided they liked this town called San Francisco, and these people called hippies. So Eric decided to persevere, he got a whole new band together....complete with an electric violinist....cause hey, nothing says "we dig acid" like an electric violin. He hastely dubbed this band The New Animals and debuted themselves with a brand new song about San Francisco at the Monterey Pop Festival. Two months later, the album was out.....Winds Of Change, Eric's psychedelic debut. Now the "New Animals" never achieved the same succes that the "old Animals" did, which is a shame, because I think it's some of Eric Burdon's best work, second only to his early 70's work with War. Winds of Change is in my opinion the best Eric Burdon and The Animals album, and arguably one of the best of the psychedelic era....certainly one of the most forgotten. This song, a morality tale about the Black Death, is pretty representative of about half the album....the blue shade of the mood ring half.....well, given the subject matter....maybe dark blue.
The black plague is estimated to have wiped out anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of Europe's population from 1340 till the late 1600's. And it killed indiscriminately as purported in this song. Prince or pauper, priest or stableboy....all were subject to this much misunderstood epidemic. It is consequentially what kept Europe in the dark ages for so long. Religious fervor spread, jews, lepers and people with simple acne or psoriasis were executed. Witches and heretics were hunted and burned. There was disenchantment with the church. Some, like Martin Luther, sought reform. Some, like the flagellents decided the only way man could stop God's wrath was to travel form city to city mimicking the crucifixion in an effort to suffer as Jesus suffered. Cats were killed and burned for being in league with the devil (inadvertently prolonging the plague in the process), many were convinced the world itself was ending. And inside the castle wall, the bell tolled on...
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