Pink Floyd's 1977 Animals
saw the height of tensions on the band, and the height of the band itself. Between the textural genius displayed on 1975's Wish You Were Here
and the lyrical genius of 1979's The Wall
is a much overlooked album, that contains the best of both worlds. Animals
has none of the mysticism or strange psychedelia displayed on Wish You Were Here
, but rather Animals
is a very Orwellian look at then modern day society in Britain. Animals
sees the heights of lyric writer Roger Waters' cynicism, and also the sheer talent he has for metaphor. Dividing society into three categories; Dogs, who are the predators of society, Pigs, the money grubbers and capitalists, and Sheep, who blindly follow, Pink Floyd wrote an album that's possibly their masterpiece. It flows singly as well as 1973's Dark Side Of The Moon
, contains lyrical moments nothing short of genius, and the songs are much better than anything you're likely to find on any
other Pink Floyd record, Wish You Were Here
aside. Waters' social commentary is completely accurate, depressing at times, but the couplet "Pigs On The Wing (Part 1)" and Pigs On The Wing (Part 2)" give the listener hope, and a message of caring and almost, unity. It's not as dreary as The Wall
or as melancholy and longing as Wish You Were Here
. It's a much more "real" album, and it really holds together teriffically. So here is Animals
, an album that in my opinion, although certainly not the most accessible of Floyd's work, and with the possible exception of Wish You Were Here
is their finest moment.
Because of the fact that this album is more intended to be an album than anything, I'm not going to give individual songs ratings.
Pigs On The Wing (Part 1)
An often overlooked song, this is really just the intro to the album. However, it contains some pretty meaningful lyrics, that are completed in the second half of this song. "Pigs On The Wing" is just acoustic guitar and voice, but there's some really nice chord voicings, courtesy of Gilmour. The lyrics are almost a question, projecting about what would happen if "If you didn't care, what happened to me" and "I didn't care for you", that they would be "watching the pigs on the wing".
Dogs, a commentary on the predators of society, starts off with simple strummed clean tone chords, leading into the first verse:
You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need
You gotta sleep on your toes and when you're on the street
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
The song continues to categorize, almost frighteningly accurately, these "Dogs". Gilmour comes in soon enough with characteristic guitar playing, but, when compared to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (his most recognizable guitar work) it's much more rough and exhibits more chops. This whole album feels much more real than any other Pink Floyd before or after, and it's much more raw, with the exception of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
. Back to "Dogs": "Dogs" is an epic, with absolutely stunning guitar solos, featuring harmonizing complete with over-dubbing long held out bends; enough to make any aspiring guitarist cry. The lyrics are nothing short of genius, elloquently stating that when the "Dogs" lose control, they'll "reap the harvest (they) have sown". At the start of the third verse, the end of the guitar solo, Richard Wright comes in with a well-stated keyboard line, and the vocals once again come in. Like the rest of animals, there's no clear song pattern, no "verse-chorus-verse"; it's true progressive rock, and although it doesn't sound anything like prog greats King Crimson and Yes, it certainly is reminiscent of the long drawn out songs of Discipline
and Close To The Edge
. Dogs ends just like it began, with acoustic guitar leading into a heavy outro of predictions for society. Dogs is by far the most generous song on Animals
and explores every aspect of itself fully.
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
The darkest song on Animals
, this is a cynical look at the rich of society, the "Pigs". The lyrical technique used on this song is much more sarcastic than on "Dogs" or "Sheep", and it's effective for the song. "Pigs" begins with an eerie keyboard line, launching into a guitar and bass riff that brings to mind "Have A Cigar". "Pigs's" main progression is classic Pink Floyd, with the drop at the end that when one hears one can't not think of Floyd. After the first verse, complete with sing along "Ha Ha! Charade you are!"(s), there's a long interlude with a guitar or possibly keyboard solo using some sort of revolutionary synth that sounds like a pig squealing. This song is perhaps the most well layered and orchestrated song on the album; the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, along with vocals are all distinctly different but mesh together into what sounds at first listen like a simple song. Once again this is another epic, a song that has inherent energy and an almost raw-beauty feel. It's an extremely emotionally open song, and can really effect the way you feel.
The most upbeat and catchy song on Animals
, this begins with a bluesy keyboard line. After a minute and a half it launches into a rockin' blues influenced jam song that feels so mainstream it's hard to believe it's Floyd. However, this is perfect for the occasion. What to better represent the following masses than a catchy rock song? It's extremely reminiscent of "Young Lust" on The Wall
. Sheep has an extremely dark "chorus" (the musical parts repeat themselves, but the lyrics change) with nice riffage courtesy of Gilmour. This song, once again, triumphs lyrically. It's a perfect description, just like Pigs and Dogs, of the category of people that is depicted herein. It tells a bit of a story of fear and living in the shadow of Pigs and Dogs. After a brief lull it launches into another verse around the 7 minute mark, and around the 8 minute, and extremely bluesy riff that sounds so much like "Run Like Hell" it's unreal comes in. This fades out the rest of this song, another epic.
Pigs On The Wing (Part 2)
The second part of "Pigs On The Wing" sounds just like the first, but with these lyrics lyrics:
You know that I care what happens to you,
And I know that you care for me.
So I don't feel alone,
Or the weight of the stone,
Now that I've found somewhere safe
To bury my bone.
And any fool knows a dog needs a home,
A shelter from pigs on the wing.
leaves us not with a haunting commentary of life in the 1970s, but a commentary that's still relevant today. Entering Animals
is like entering another world, it's completely unreal yet real all in the same.
is a triumph on so many levels, and although it's not Floyd's most accessible work, it's certainly their finest.
I give Animals
a 4.5/5 because non-genre fans won't like, but it's still one of my all time favorite albums.