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*8.04-ORANGE AND RED BEAMS (Eric Burdon & the Animals)

Eric Burdon & the Animals

LISTEN

[Intro]

Orange and red beams,
The inner life,
Came through my window
In the night.

        A baby was born
        Before a storm.

And now I believe them,
What they said,
About the people
Who aren't really dead.

        [Refrain]

And now I think of him
When I’m away
'Cause orange and red beams
Yes, are here to stay.

[Break]

[Repeat 2nd verse]

        [Refrain]

Orange and red beams (13x)


The album The Twain Shall Meet takes its title by playing on Rudyard Kipling’s line O East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet (from The Ballad of East and West 1889) as if the psychedelic music included in this album, heavy with sitar playing, were proof against the saying. Despite the fact that the album contained two hit singles, Monterrey and Sky Pilot, both of which broke into Billboard’s Top 20, it sold poorly, doing worse than Burdon’s previous album, Winds of Change, which had only featured San Franciscan Nights. The fault may have been that the late psychedelic sounds in the record lacked necessary restraint—Gary Kellgren’s sound engineering is more intrusive with the Animals records than with his other psychedelic artists, the Mothers of Invention and Jimi Hendrix Experience, probably because Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix had a firmer grasp on what sounds they wanted. But worse is the self-styled hippie prophet that Eric Burdon has become on several of the cuts on the album, because many of his words of wisdom seem trite, illustrating the very self-righteousness that Frank Zappa was mocking in his album We’re Only in it for the Money.

Luckily, Orange and Red Beams avoids hippie prophecy, even if the lyric is rather muddled. It appears to be a statement about death and rebirth; perhaps the “orange and red beams” have shot through storm clouds dark as night to stimulate a vision of hope. The song is lushly orchestrated (in a manner that reminds of the Bee Gees 1st album) with horns, flute, celeste and strings. But the most distinctive quality of the song is the heavy use of flanging to create vocal “trails” (like streaks of light on LSD), which in the end tumble over one another in waves as both Danny McCulloch and Eric Burdon sing in syncopated rhythm. The tone accurately evokes the sort of awe one might have before an inexplicable LSD vision about the meaning of life and death and how they are interrelated.

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