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Two of the iconic Battersea Power Station Chimneys against a clear blue sky

Wedged between the massive hits ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘The Wall’ , Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ might sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But this album is far from just another record in the band’s lineup, it’s a powerful comment on the different levels of society. Drawing inspiration from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ , ‘Animals’ uses characters like aggressive dogs, bossy pigs, and a herd of sheep who just follow along to dig deep into the roles we play in society.

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.

The iconic album cover of Animals showing a pig floating above Battersea Power Station
The original and iconic Animals album cover

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 closed
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking

Roger Waters lyrics on Dogs

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 real
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
What a surprise

Roger Waters lyrics on Sheep

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.

Roger Waters takes aim at Trump – Desert Trip 2016
‘Trump is a pig’ – Roger makes his opinion clear – Desert Trip 2016

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 karate
Lo, we shall rise up
And then we’ll make the bugger’s eyes water

Roger Waters lyrics on Sheep
The Flying Pig – Birmingham UK 2023

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!

A small metal plague at <span itemscope itemtype=

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.

Animals 2018

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.

Animals 2022 launch at Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station lit up for the 2022 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.

Jay

I am Jay, the founder of Wine, Travel and Song. UK based, I set this blog up in 2016 to share my passion for food & drink, travel and music - Wine, Travel & Song. In these posts I share some of my passions in the hope that it may inspire you to go there, eat that or listen to this. In return I hope you will comment and share recommendations of where to go, what to eat and what to listen to!