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Sinatra, Burdon Go Walkin' Back to the '60s

Pop Music Review

January 01, 2001|NATALIE NICHOLS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Whisky may not be the hip-music ground zero it was in the '60s and '70s, but Friday's double bill featuring Nancy Sinatra and former Animals frontman Eric Burdon showed the venerable Sunset Strip nightclub can still nurture unique moments.

Like, where else would it almost make sense that Sinatra's backing sextet included both legendary session drummer Hal Blaine and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke? What other stage could support the absurd-yet-endearing spectacle of Sinatra and Burdon teaming like veteran outlaws on the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" and the Steppenwolf anthem "Born to Be Wild"? And what other darkened balcony would so effectively shelter iconic producer Phil Spector, who, naturally, ducked the attention Sinatra briefly lavished on him?

Both artists' sets drew largely from their respective '60s heydays. Wearing a gold miniskirt and boots, smoky-voiced Sinatra, 60, proved the more adventurous during her 75-minute show, which she said was being recorded for her first-ever live album.

She gave the crowd such expected fare as her 1966 chart-topper "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," but also applied her tough-chick-a-go-go persona to such amusing selections as the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You."

Although there were low points, including a Latin-funk-lite version of "Besame Mucho" straight outta some Holiday Inn lounge, Sinatra's knowing playfulness helped sell her blend of camp and nostalgia. She even convincingly projected the sweet-sexy bombshell image of her youth. Let's see Britney Spears do that 40 years from now.

Indeed, while Sinatra's stance was always somewhat kitschy, Burdon, 59, proved more cartoonish, despite his association with one of the pioneering R & B-rock groups of the British Invasion. His 35-minute performance stuck to such Animals hits as "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "House of the Rising Sun," and his distinctive growl was more than serviceable. Yet his vocal mugging appeared to mask an unfortunate, if understandable, boredom with the material.

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