Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll can, in the right hands, be a pretty potent combination, but unfortunately Burdon's aren't the right hands. There’s no denying that it's a fairly easy read (which is what we have ghostwriters for), doesn't have you pausing to consider and reflect too much and I knocked it over in an afternoon with time to spare, but that was largely so I could get it out of the way and move on to something else.

There's quite a bit of sex (implied, side-referenced rather than full blow by blow descriptions), an inordinate amount of drugs with most of the usual suspects on deck and the odd magic mushroom thrown in for good measure and quite a fair bit of rock 'n' roll, but in the long run there's very little that comes across as new and interesting information. 

Some new, the odd morsel that's interesting, but the two don't coincide very much, at least not to this reader, apart from Burdon's suggestion that he was the eggman of I Am The Walrus fame.

Now, there's every chance that there's something along the lines I was looking for in Burdon's earlier autobiography, I Used To Be an Animal, but I'm All Right Now. Unfortunately it looks like that volume’s well out of print and, in any case, after sampling this one I don’t know that I’m inclined to try tracking it down.

There’s also Sean Egan’s Animal Tracks: The Story of The Animals, which, according to the reviews I’ve seen might be an interesting read and tie in with some long-term interests, but at the moment it’s not a high priority.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to learn from the contents. If nothing else, Burdon’s account of the millions he lost through shonky management and shady dealers, right back to the writing credits for House of the Rising Sun. There allegedly wasn’t room for everyone’s names in the space on the single’s label, so manager Mike Jeffrey, who went on to considerable notoriety when it came to Hendrix’s recorded legacy, suggested they credit it to organist Alan Price.

There are similar complaints about the way Robbie Robertson ended up with the lion’s share of The Band’s writing royalties in This Wheel’s On Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band, but Helm’s version comes across considerably better.

In any case, having been caught, you’d expect the once bitten, twice shy factor would’ve kicked in big time, but it seems Eric kept falling for the siren song of the guys who were going to make him his fortune but usually ended up arranging it so that he was making theirs.

As someone remarked around the time the Nigerian internet scams started appearing, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What’s that Hunter S. Thompson quote?

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

But when I went looking for the wording, I also found this one:

In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.

Ultimately, Burdon seems to have been caught too many times, though that may have been a side effect of the sex and drugs in between the rock ‘n’ roll rather than the other possible conclusion.

© Ian Hughes 2012