CD: Til Your River Runs Dry by Eric Burdon

As the lead singer of The Animals, Burdon epitomized the tough and bluesy side of the British Invasion. Though the band never achieved the career and financial success of The Beatles and Rolling Stones, nor did Burdon prosper as a solo artist, his inspiration and voice remain as potent as ever. And at age 71, he has achieved a creative resurgence and lifetime high mark with his new solo album. He still reaches back to such early heroes of his as Bo Diddley with a tribute song and a smoking cover of Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” and offers a cautionary based on his friendships with Jimi Hendrix and Rolling Stone Brian Jones on “27 Forever.” But this feisty collection is hardly an exercise in looking back. He is right on time with such politically-themed numbers as “Water” (about the next great human resource crisis: access for all to clean water), “River is Rising” (looking at the recovery of New Orleans in an African-American field holler mode) and “Invitation to the White House” (a jazzy talking blues in which he offers sage advice for America). Musically accomplished and emotionally pungent, this album brings the rootsy and more real side of the original Brit-rock sound into the 21st Century with finesse and savvy.

TV Documentary: The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia

HBO’s superb documentary catalog has another winner with this examination of the etiology of the very common brain disorder, how people lived and coped with dyslexia before it began being diagnosed, and how research advancements are helping dyslexics overcome its challenges. It strikes a nice balance between the scientific and the human, and is a must-see film for anyone who has a dyslexic among the family and friends they love.

Movie: A Buddy Story

This tale of a rambling troubadour and his female neighbor in New York City that he takes along on a tour is one of those independent film gems that resonates with real life believability and sweet emotionality. What drew me to it is its co-star Elizabeth Moss from “Mad Men,” a favorite actress (despite the sad fact that she is an adherent of the vile fake religion Scientology) who turns in a nuanced performance. Then what impressed me is how fellow co-star Gavin Bellour perfectly captures the life of a talented guitar-playing singer-songwriter (because he is one) toiling on the lower rungs of the music game. Defying the Hollywood obsession with happy endings but still wrapping up nicely, it instead punctuates how life is really about the lessons we learn along the way.

From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2013



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