Wedged between the massive hits
An album that is possibly more famous for the cover than the songs it is one that stands well against Wish You Were Here and foreshadows deeper and angrier songwriting that was to come on the Wall and Final Cut.
Released on 23 January 1977, ‘Animals’ stands as a pivotal point in the band’s trajectory and breakup. Recorded primarily at Britannia Row Studios in North London, the band’s own new studio offered them more creative control, allowing them to experiment with soundscapes and lyrical themes. Long gone were the psychedelic dreaming of Dark Side, or the introspective jazz of Wish You Were Here. In came cutting lyrics, cutting guitars and some of the Nick Mason’s finest drumming.
The Animals Songs – Pigs on the Wing (1&2), Dogs, Pigs, Sheep
At just over 40 minutes, the Animals album contains just 5 songs. Bookended by the acoustic ‘Pigs on the Wing Part 1’ and ‘Pings on the Wing Part 2’, it is the middle three songs that really deserve your attention.
Dogs focuses on the cut throat businessmen out for themselves.
You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closedRoger Waters lyrics on Dogs
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking
The biting lyrics are beautifully sung by David but it’s the middle section that really delivers for me. An extended instrumental section delivers a thumping heartbeat from Mason’s kick pedals as we hear dogs barking and wailing in the distance.
Pigs encompasses many people and types of people that Roger despises. From those businessmen (maybe taking another pop at the music industry?) politicians and censors like Mary Whitehouse that were critical of modern music.
If Dogs and Pigs were active, it was the passive Sheep that was the focus for the third long song of the album. A more passive, pastoral song compared to the previous two aggressive songs.
What do you get for pretending the danger’s not realRoger Waters lyrics on Sheep
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
What a surprise
Reading this makes it feel like the album is bleak and depressing. Far from it, this album is visceral and powerful – the depth of the lyrics and the quality of the music calls for this to be played loud, regularly.
Is Animals still relevant today?
Hell yes. Can I say more than ever?
These three major themes remain as relevant today as they were in the late Seventies. The names may have changed, the information channels may be different but very little has changed.
At Desert Trip Pigs was performed to the backdrop of a Trump caricature.
The more recent ‘This is not a Drill tour’ the sheep were singled out for accepting the status quo, but turning against their tormentors,
Master the art of karateRoger Waters lyrics on Sheep
Lo, we shall rise up
And then we’ll make the bugger’s eyes water
Animals and Battersea Power Station
The album cover concept was to photograph an inflatable pig flying over Battersea Power Station. Apparently Roger could see the active power station from his window and thought it would be a good idea to fly their new concert pig over the top. Perhaps this was a take on the capitalist ‘power house’ of the power station or just a cool idea! The time was booked, the airspace was closed and the pig was flown. On the second day of shooting, the pig slipped its chains and flew off towards Heathrow., leaving the album designers Hipgnosis without the shot they wanted. So that’s why you see the painted version adorning the now iconic album cover!
The connection between Pink Floyd, the Animals album has never died. It has always been a key London Rock Landmark for me and many other fans. There is is even a small plague at the Power Station complex commemorating the connection.
The much delayed 2018 remix came out in 2022 offers much greater contrast for the instruments. The overall sound is sharper and clearer and you can hear far more subtlety in Nick Mason’s incredible drumming.
It is rare for me to truly find a difference in these modern remixes but this version of Animals definitely improves the listening of this classic album.
Battersea Power Station Lights Up for Animals 2022
For an album that is so closely linked with a location, it was only fitting that the album relaunch included the power station, but from a different location. On a cold clear night in September 2022, the station’s iconic chimneys were lit up to celebrate the release.
Where was the cover for animals 2018 photographed?
We all know the original Animals cover showed Battersea Power Station from a distance. But for the remastered version there is a new photo, showing the power station beneath a pile of cranes. I set out to discover where it was photographed, and get my own snap!
45 years after it’s release, Pink Floyd’s Animals remains as fresh, as clear and as relevant than ever before. it is an album I play regularly, still finding inspiration from every track.