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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.53 | 3911 ratings

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5 stars When the history of rock and roll is written, most will agree that the high art of the rock guitar was achieved in the mid-seventies, when Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, Robert Fripp, Steve Howe, and especially David Gilmour were at their peak. And one of the definitive masterpieces they collectively will point to is Pink Floyd's Animals. That is because never has the human voice and the electric guitar been so intimately bound. It's almost as if Gilmour is speaking in tongues, that's how emotive his solos are in this music. His angry, caustic, ringing lines and relentless, driving rhythm chords are the perfect companions to Water's poetry of dire futility.

I never quite understood why Waters would occasionally and petulantly claim authorship of certain songs when it's clear that without Gilmour most of "his" pieces would have been only half of what they were before. Gilmour's edgy vision is just as much in control of the music as Water's satiric melodies. One only needs to hear the concluding solo of "Pigs" to be convinced that Gilmour's contribution is essential to that piece. I have never heard a lead guitarist who could so commandingly deliver the hard rock that he sounds out. And that's actually how we seventies fans used to classify the band--hard rock, in that category with Led Zeppelin. I'm not sure when the Progressive Rock movement annexed them in, but it was later. In the band's heyday, fans saw them as a more blues-based band talking from the streets than a bone fide prog band. Metaphorically speaking, Yes, EL&P, and Gentle Giant were making music on completely different musical continents than Pink Floyd.

Unlike the prog of the time, Pink Floyd didn't propose or suggest a better future. Their approach was to satirize, to cut, to mourn; to send you to disquieting musical landscapes and leave you stranded there for a while. Then wrench you back for a final vitriolic verbal assault before slicing you to pieces with a frenzied lead guitar attack. I know this sounds violent, but Animals is all about violence; it's a violent response to the oppressive powers that keep us down, keep us thinking there's no better alternative than this dog-eat-dog way of life.

Waters ingeniously riffs off Orwell's "Animal Farm" to demonstrate his world view, suggesting that the gangland fascism of his dystopia--the one many would say would occur only when pigs fly--is already here. It's just that we can't perceive the pigs flying right in front of us. And with his uncanny knack for musically rendering Water's vision, Gilmour builds astounding guitar structures around the melodies and screams out the angst Water's vision suggests.

And I don't mean to ignore Wright's or Mason's contributions at all. They too add immeasurably to the overall effect. Wright's contributions are more noticeable--his synth lines in "Sheep" and "Dogs," but Mason's tight percussion and tasteful fills are just as effective.

I know there are minority of Pink Floyd fans who see everything after DSOTM (or even Meddle) as a some sort of falling away from the psychedelia they created up to that time. But what I think they are reacting against is Water's coming of age as a poet; they are, I think, made too uneasy by Water's satiric attack, they'd prefer less despair and anger in their mind trips.

But Pink Floyd had moved beyond that. They kept the psychedelic soundscapes but gave them literary form. For Water's, it was time to scare everybody awake. And if any rock album demands you wake up, Animals does.

This is an essential work of rock art. Five stars.

bluetailfly | 5/5 |


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