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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover

ANIMALS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.52 | 2476 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The undisputed kings of Progressive Rock, Pink Floyd were the group who truly broke through into the mainstream conciousness, pulling off the remarkable trick of creating compelling, highly-progressive music and selling hundreds of millions of records worldwide, equalling the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin for sheer international popularity. Indeed, in all the history of Rock music there have been few bigger bands. Led during their formative years by the enigmatic lyricist, vocalist and guitarist Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd had been at the very forefront of the underground psychedelic movement that sparked into life during the late-sixties, releases such as their densely-cosmic debut 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn' and the bizarre double-album 'Ummagumma' showcasing an extremely imaginative quartet of musicians who were willing to push the boundaries of popular music as far as they could. By the beginning of the 1970's, however, it seemed as if the dream was over. Barrett, who loved psychedelic drugs as much as the girls loved his handsome good looks, had completely overdone the LSD and subsequently fried his brain to the point where it made him unable to either perform live or function within the confines of a professional band. He was subsequently replaced by his ex-Schoolmate Dave Gilmour(vocals, guitar) and the music press, rather hastily it must be said, began to write Pink Floyd's obituaries, thinking that the game was up for the four-piece without their primary creative force. Fast forward seven years, however, and the group, which still featured original members Roger Waters(bass, vocals), Richard Wright(keyboards, vocals) and Nick Mason(drums) alongside Gilmour, had enjoyed unprecedented success with a series of ground-breaking albums that started with the brass-heavy 1969 effort 'Atom Heart Mother' and continued with the mysterious 'Meddle'(1971), the super smash-hit 'Dark Side Of The Moon'(1973) and the emotionally-charged follow-up 'Wish You Were Here'(1975). The group's next challenge would be to navigate the vicious punk onslaught that was ripping through British rock music's old guard(and particularly progressive rock groups) and 1977's thoroughly downbeat 'Animals' album, which was loosely-based on George Orwell's satirical fable 'Animal Farm', would be Pink Floyd's extraordinary and darkly-wrought response. In the classic prog-rock style 'Animals' would feature just five tracks, two of which would clock in at around the one minute mark and act as the albums prologue and epilogue respectively. Featuring just Roger Waters broken vocals over the top of a sparsely- strummed acoustic guitar melody, 'Pigs On The Wing' and 'Pigs On The Wing(Three Different Ones') act almost as the quiet before the storm, their gentle, stripped-back vibe exuding rare moments of clarity. The remaining three tracks, however, would all last in excess of ten minutes and find Pink Floyd exhibiting a dank, nihilistic streak and, lyrically speaking, at their most acerbic, with the stand-out 'Dogs' reaching just under twenty minutes. With it's juddering bass-lines, spacey keyboard effects and frightening lyrical content 'Dogs' would be the only piece on the album not to be written and sung solely by Waters, with Gilmour lending his gruff vocals to what can be only be described as one of the gloomiest Pink Floyd compositions. Featuring themes that meditate on death, disease, greed and loss, the bulk of 'Animals' is seen by many as the absolute antithesis to the hopeful material found on 'Wish You Were Here'. 'Dogs', it's rumbling follow-up 'Pigs' and the psychedelic-flecked 'Sheep' would find a group gradually moving away from their melodic origins, creating rough, discordant and seemingly hopeless meditations on the state of 1970s Britain that seemed to aim much of it's abrasive criticism directly at the policies of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her right-wing government. Whilst also being a reaction to punk rock 'Animals' was also the album on which the first cracks in the relationship between the main creative forces of Gilmour and Waters would start to show, the duo apparently finding it difficult to now work in the same room together. From the outside it seemed as if Waters was slowly taking over the group and dictating the overall direction, and his methods alienated not only Gilmour but also keyboardist Richard Wright, who hardly features throughout the album. However, despite the ongoing concerns regarding the inter-band relationships, it didn't affect the quality of the music. 'Animals' would mark yet another outstanding chapter in the Pink Floyd story, spinning a darkly ominous musical tale that seemed a million miles away from the more upbeat material being produced by the likes of Yes and Genesis, two groups who were not adapting well to the changing musical climate. Although 'Animals' would find Pink Floyd at their least commercial, it also found the group at their most daring and creative, showing that, amongst many other things, the genre of progressive rock could also exhibit it's rarely- shown dark-side without stifling the instrumental complexity that is so important. In the face of so much criticism from both press and public, 'Animals' is very much the sound of Pink Floyd baring their teeth, flexing their muscles and fighting back.
stefro | 5/5 |

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