Animals

Pink Floyd

Columbia Records, 1977

http://www.pinkfloyd.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/11/1997

With all the talk about whether or not Roger Waters is rejoining Pink Floyd (my opinion: I hope not - let's let the past be) and the upcoming re-release of the band's Columbia catalogue,now seems as good a time to dip into the Pierce Memorial Archives (hey, who's been baking brownies in here?) for one of their most overlooked albums - 1977's Animals.

For the British foursome, you're in a sticky situation. Your last two albums, Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, have been incredible successes. But internal squabbles are beginning to fester in the band, and the group seems to be torn over whether to continue in a pop vein or to turn back to their psychedelic roots. The answer at the time: why not combine both? The end result: five songs, two of which are bridges to start and end the album, all vaguely connected by a theme surrounding animals. The jams are incredibly drawn out, and the musicianship is at a high.

So what does this all mean? Simple: while Animals showed that Pink Floyd couldn't go home again to the world of psychedelia, their songwriting was still riding at its peak.

The two snippets, both titled "Pigs On The Wing," are of little consequence to the album - let's pass on these tracks and concentrate on the remaining tracks. They all seem to have some touches of social commentary in them - though I will freely admit I haven't picked up all the nuances yet. The first real track, "Dogs," seems to criticize the way we behave in the human race - almost as if we are the real animals.: "You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to / So that when they turn their backs on you / You'll get the chance to put the knife in."

David Gilmour's guitar work has rarely sounded better than on this track - his lines are controlled, yet powerful. Waters has never been a really happy person, though lyrics like these give us the first signs of the dark nature they would soon take. (Okay, I lied: on "Pigs On The Wing," you can almost hear the core of "Mother" which would stand out on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Wall.)

I don't want to take away from the work of Nick Mason and Richard Wright, however; their work on drums and keyboards also add a special panache (brother, don't think I haven't been looking for a reason to use that word) to the music. Wright's keyboards help to add the touch of psychedelia that Pink Floyd was trying to recapture. And Mason, as always, provides a solid backbeat.

The highlight for me on Animals- in fact, the reason I bought it when I first heard the song on a local metal show - is "Pigs (Three Different Ones)." It is here that the band is at their tightest, with the keyboards perfectly meshing in with the guitar lines, and the bass creating a melody all its own. It's one of the best moments of Pink Floyd's career in my book - though here is where I have a problem unearthing the social commentary.

"Sheep," the last of the "tracks" on this album, will sound familiar to those who only know Pink Floyd from their 1983 best-of A Collection Of Great Dance Songs. If the band has been using a talkbox, then I will stand corrected when I've said it's best used sparingly. The synthesized vocals in the middle of the track are eerie, and while they become inaudible near the end, their message still rings out clear. Also it's worthy to note that a short tape lop first used back on "Dogs" returns to haunt you, connecting the track and the "enemies".Waters also lays on a rather heavy dose of social criticism again - there is no doubt that we are the sheep he was writing about.

The sad thing about Animals is that it's not known for the music it holds. Rather, the minor connection people will make is with the inflatable flying pig that appears at Pink Floyd shows. (For that matter, I don't remember the last time I heard about the band playing anything from Animals on recent tours.) The fact is that this album is probably the one which is least known. Atom Heart Mother is known for the cow on the cover, Meddle is known for "One Of These Days"... while Animals sits in relative obscurity.

And while I love Wish You Were Here and can tolerate both Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall, I think it's criminal that so few people these days know about Animals. It's almost as if - no, scratch that, it did get lost in between the mega-hit,overplayed albums. This, kids, is what we call a God-Damn Shame.

Fortunately, with the album being remastered as kind of a 20th birthday present (gee, and all I got when I turned 20 was an electric razor), we all have a chance to re-discover Animals. Don't let the length of the tracks fool you - the time passes very quickly with them, making you want to listen to the album again and again. Animals is an album that does not deserve to be forgotten - pick up a copy today and adopt it for your own.

Christ, I sound like a Beanie Babies ad...

Rating: A

User Rating: A-


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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.