Eric Burdon & War Play “Spill The Wine”

Eric Burdon Declares WarListen to this track by Animalistic, leaping gnome-like singer Eric Burdon as backed by Latin-influenced Long Beach L.A funkateers War. It’s “Spill The Wine”, a 1970 hit as featured on the collaborative and self-referentially titled album Eric Burdon Declares War. It was initially released as a single, scoring a top ten chart result.


The song bridges the gaps between British rock, R&B, and Latin music, with a long portion of it being something of a spoken-word short story. That story is a rather dreamlike excursion, filled with images of tall grass, afternoon naps, dreams, Hollywood movies, and visions of “every kind of girl”. There aren’t too many tunes like it. Since its release, it’s been featured on soundtracks in movies and on TV, and covered by a number of artists from The Isley Brothers, to Michael Hutchence.

War was an outfit that started out as a socio-political concern, with statements against racism, crime, poverty, and other negative forces that were becoming serious issues in their native Los Angeles. Eric Burdon had moved to the West Coast from Britain after having dissolved the second incarnation of the Animals, with the original group having split by the mid-60s. In some ways, it was kind of an odd pairing, with Burdon being a student of Chicago blues, and War being more of a funk outfit who’d left the blues behind for a more contemporary Latin R&B funk hybrid sound.


But, “Spill The Wine” consolidated their success, and with an approach that was stylistically off the map in many ways. Here are a few of them. Read more

David Byrne Sings “Loco De Amor”

David Byrne Rei MomoListen to this track by once-big suited Talking Heads frontman turned Latin music enthusiast David Byrne. It’s “Loco De Amor”, or in the English “Crazy For Love”, don’t you know. The track appears on Byrne’s 1989 solo record Rei Momo and his first, put out when Talking Heads was on something of a hiatus (they’d break up officially in 1991), and when his artistic mind turned outward from North American radio play to locales and sounds further to the south.

In addition to the salsa and reggae touched on here on this tune, the record as a whole explores a whole gamut of musical styles common to the Caribbean and South America, with Byrne’s post-punk voice at the center of it all. Stark contrast has always been a big part of the post-punk ethos of course. And there’s plenty of loopiness here that makes the tune as lyrically interesting as much as it is sexy and danceable. “Loco De Amor” contains one of my favourite similes in music: “Like a pizza in the rain/No one wants to take you home …”. So, Byrne was still writing David Byrne songs, just as he’d done while with Talking Heads.

Yet when the song was written, it was with another musician in mind, and several miles away from the world of Talking Heads, too.

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