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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover

ANIMALS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.52 | 2512 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars Unhuman Animals Or Abnormally Human ??

If Dark Side and Wish You were both concept albums (or at least were more or less built as), Animals was not, at least in the first stages. As with a few of their album's material, Floyd often, previewed the up-coming "songs" on stage, to see if they worked well, but in the case of two of Animals' five tracks (but representing almost 2/3 of the album's length), Dogs and Sheep existed for quite a while (I think sice 74) and were thought originally to be part of WYWH, but were then left aside for a latter use. Indeed Raving And Drooling (future Sheep) and You Gotta Be Crazy (future Dogs) attack subjects already touched in WYWH, although from a different angle: manipulation and exploitation of blind followers (Sheep), familiar to Machine and Cigar, no? So Floyd (well mostly Waters) turned these two tracks into a new concept based on Orwell's Animal Farm and this in turn evolved into one of the most stunning album gatefold artwork ever with the rundown Battersea Power Station and the infanous flying pig (taking a unplanned ride over London's skies, provoking chaos with airplane corridors) and again designing the own specific disc centre labels. Roger wrote Pigs and the small book-ending intro and outro Pigs On The Wing accordingly to the album's newly found direction.

Past the forgettable Pigs On The Wing intro, where Waters strips the acoustic guitar from Gilmour, this album can be seen as the first step to the Watersization of Floyd's musical direction, but it still quite a group effort. If Water's lyrics had become one of Floyd's major strength since Meddle, here they climb another step in importance in their music, since not only very meaningful and thoughtful (debatable from the auditor's own political stance), but also in the quantity. Never have Floyd tracks been so wordy before, ever since the Syd days. Indeed Water's almost extreme-leftist stance on this album, when these guys were seen as multimillionaires (not really the case since they had built their private Britannia Row studios and made bad investments) might even shock and the critics had a field day describing them as either simplistic or demagogic and opportunistic (Waters takes a few swipe at the horrible "old hag" Maggie, then leader of the conservateur opposition and moral order defender Mary Whitehouse), but in the face of the "rock'n roll spirit" guardians of the faith/dogma establishment, this was another no-no, after the long tracks.

The almost sidelong epic of Dogs is definitely the album's centrepiece and yet another proof of how Gilmour and Waters where the Lennon-McCartney of the 70's, pulling a stunning collaboration, where Wright's superb keyboard arrangements is the icing on the cake - returning to his Farsifa organ and Rhodes rather than the synth of the previous two albums. Gilmour's guitar shines all the way through the album, but Water's lyrics (all sung by him on this album) are extremely "on the dot" (he considers himself part of that caste), thus making Dogs the most popular track on this album. Pigs is really bitter and angry, but (to me appears) to be written quickly, even if the middle sections (with the pig grunts and outstanding Gimourian guitar effects) is an excellent diversion from the weaker verse-chorus parts. Then comes my personal fave Sheep, a drama-filled pro-Marxist and anti-clergy ditty. One's got to love the mass' slowly deteriorating litany into revolt, before the track breaks out in the open and full freedom. Sonically speaking, The Wall's Run Like Hell is also very reminiscent of Animals' general soundscapes. Little surprise that after such bleak picture painted, Roger book-ended the three tracks with a glimmer of hope Pigs On The Wing ditty. The often-superb instrumental passages provide a much-needed breath of fresh air to lighten the heavy and weighty lyrical content

This semi commercial failure (everything being relative on that Floyd scale) of Animals is probably due to exterior factors: the punk outburst and prog decadence (the long tracks in the eyes of a new generation), the dark sombre (almost depressive) feel, the political message (and sort of punkier than punk), but past the Tatcher/Whithouse jabs, isn't this album's lyrical content ever more to date than today??? Animals is also often seen by fans as the moment where Waters' future take-over of Floyd took roots, although that might seem unfair as well when we know that both Gilmour and Wright will release (very) good solo albums the following year, their stuff simply not fitting the Animals mould. Another "bad" point often cited by detractors is that the album is almost entirely sung by Waters, and one doesn't hear much the voice of Gilmour (just on Dogs' first part) and Wright not at all. Unfortunately if this album is often overlooked by fans and the general public, but also by the group itself, as past its promotional tour, none of its "songs" will be ever played by the group (even stranger when you know two of its tracks were regular part of their show prior to the album's release), even if the flying pig will still be used for the shows. The most difficult of their classic albums, Animals remains one of my fave albums of the second half of the 70's.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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