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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover

ANIMALS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.52 | 2580 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Pigs Might Fly, Impossible and Preposterous, but Pink Floyd Makes It A Reality

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell states, "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Pink Floyd were inspired by the thematic content of the novel, an anthropomorphic socio political saga of looking at the world differently; perhaps politically it only applies to the politics of the day, however this biting satire could apply to the politics of today. In Water's conceptualisation in this world you are either a pig, a sheep or a dog. Dogs are the corporate predators that have a no compromise attitude, are devilishly cunning and run in packs with survival at the top of their highest priority. 'Dogs' is the best track on this album taking up almost the entire side one of the vinyl at about 17 minutes, it has some of the most searing guitar that David Gilmour has played in his career. The lead solos are highly emotive ranging from soft, gentle and mellow to frenetic and aggressive. The lyrics are poetic and absolutely encapsulating, "I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused. Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used. Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise. If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?". It is a mesmirising song, with melancholy vocals and exciting synthesiser from Wright, some of his best material is captured on this album, which could be viewed as almost a paean to his genius; RIP Richard.

The album is bookended by 'Pigs On The Wing' which has a memorable Waters vocal and soft acoustics. The pigs on this concept album are of course the tyrannical moralists who are motivated by power, that corrupts absolutely as usual, and they have the ability to go to the top of the hierarchical ladder despite who they tread on to get there, but it's lonely at the top. They are focussed to impose their estranged worldview on the other animals. The story is one of corruption with all its negativity, and deception, that will ultimately drag the antagonist to their doom. The tracks are best heard as part of the whole rather than as separate entities, they work well as bookends, and I count them as part of the lengthy tracks that require these short pieces to make sense.

Moving on to other pigs, there are three different ones that are visualised in the surreal 11:30 track that has some very nice melodies, and mordant lyrics; "Hey you, Whitehouse, Ha ha, charade you are. You house proud town mouse, Ha ha, charade you are, You're trying to keep our feelings off the street. You're nearly a real treat, All tight lips and cold feet, And do you feel abused?" Of course this was Waters attack on Mary Whitehouse, self confessed moralist of the British public who had committed some onslaught on Pink Floyd for their stage antics and lyrical nature. Waters' literally spat at a fan on the DSOTM tour which made headlines and of course led to the inspiration of "The Wall" stage show where a giant wall between the band and the audience was erected. Interestingly enough, much of the music on "Animals" was already written and performed on the DSOTM tour; 'Dogs' was known as 'You Gotta Be Crazy' and 'Sheep' was actually titled 'Raving and Drooling'. I am kind of glad they changed those titles.

So who are the three different pigs on Pigs (three different ones)? It is no secret among Floydians that pig 1 was the business pig, the lying, cheating, thieving fat suit that deceives their way to the top of the business rung; pig 2 is the politician, Thatcher at the time, who had already, along with Whitehouse, copped a heap from UK TV on "The Goodies"; and pig 3 was Mary Whitehouse, as has been mentioned, who was scared witless that the British public were being perverted.

The concept was further enhanced with the iconography of the album, the enigmatic pig flying above the smoke stacks of Battersea Power Station became an image of the band never to be forgotten. Pink Floyd literally got a pig to fly when the ropes gave way and the pig sailed in to the heavens; perhaps a fitting tribute to the band bucking against the pigs of the music industry that were jumping on the punk band wagon.

The fatalistic concept always works for Pink Floyd as it echoes the bleak psychedelic music, but there is a real sense on "Animals" of a ray of hope, the way Gilmour plays with those uplifting chords and melodic notes, Wright's soaring keyboard swoops, Waters' pulsating bass, and Mason's exceptional percussion embellishments; you could not get better than the virtuoso genius of this lineup. However, I always felt that "Animals" was one of the darkest Pink Floyd adventures primarily due to 'Sheep'. There is a section in this track that disturbs me everytime and it is the part where a very doomy synth is heard and a voice over narration. It is almost subliminal but if you listen closely you can hear a parody of The Lord's Prayer with a nasty twist; "With bright knives He releaseth my soul. He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places. He converteth me to lamb cutlets, For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger..." The sheep are the passive followers, docile and innocent, the common man, headed for the slaughterhouse to be chopped into little pieces (reminiscent of 'One of These Days'), exploited by the dogs and pigs. The exploitation continues until the sheep rebel and rise up against the oppressors only to be exploited again, a vicious cycle. In a sense Pink Floyd themselves. The sheep in the novel gain a consciousness when they see the corruption of the rich corporations, and they rebel, as Pink Floyd rebelled against the trash music of the late 70s by producing music like this. Of course the irony is the communists could never do such a thing or they would be slaughtered too, and Pink Floyd are well aware of these ironies, even making fun of themselves, after the incredible success of "DSOTM" and "WYWH". They had to face these corporations who wanted a piece of them too. The band had already touched on this theme on "WYWH" especially, 'Have A Cigar' The 'communist' record companies wanted the band to conform to the music of the day; they refused and the result was "Animals".

To conclude every part of this album is equally important to the rest. The music is lengthy, complex and houses a framework of some of Waters most scathing attacks on the music business and politics. When I first heard this on vinyl as a teen I just did not get it. I was confused by the high concept, the visuals puzzled me, and it is nothing like "DSOTM" at all, or "WYWH", except it was sandwiched in between "WYWH' and 'The Wall" as a transition to both, and I think a lot of us were expecting something akin to the previous masterpieces, which it is not. However, I listen to this today and it jolts me every time. The concept is Orwellian, the music is psych and symphonic prog, the vocals are exquisite, and this album paved the way for the grand concept masterpiece of "The Wall".

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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