Gig review: Steve Cropper & the Animals, Glasgow ABC

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IT’S impossible to dissociate The Animals from Eric Burdon’s deep, bluesy burr, but the singer has been estranged from the Newcastle-formed British invasion legends’ classic line-up since it fractured in the late 1960s.

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His version of the band tours as Eric Burdon and The Animals; appearing at Celtic Connections was the parallel incarnation led by drummer John Steel – founder member and legal owner of The Animals name – and keys player Mick Gallagher – a replacement for Alan Price in 1965, better known as a member of Ian Dury and the Blockheads and for recording with The Clash.

However faithfully and skilfully rendered the likes of Bright Lights Big City and Boom Boom might have proven, an opening slew of Animals classics – led by Geordie Jack Black-alike Peter Barton on bass and vocals – traded rather too flatly on past glories. But once The Animals were joined at the halfway stage by American guitarist Steve “The Colonel” Cropper – founder member of Stax records house band Booker T & the MG’s, frequently ranked among the greatest guitarists of all time – a much more fun and collaborative dynamic immediately reigned.

We got Cropper co-credited Stax soul classics from Otis Redding’s Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay – preceded by a recounting of its very inception in the studio, and ending with a mass whistle-along – to Eddie Floyd’s Knock On Wood. With such a Booker T Jones aficionado as Gallagher on Hammond organ, what else could have ended Cropper’s innings – prior to a rousing Animals encore of, what else but House of The Rising Sun – other than a hip-shaking Green Onions?