The Animals were one of the most popular British Invasion bands from the sixties. Nowadays, they are often overlooked and forgotten, and people write them off as just another British Invasion one-hit wonder, but they were much more than that. Back in the sixties, they were probably the most popular early British Invasion band after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In fact, in the early days, those three bands would often hang out and jam together in small clubs before they got huge. The Animals played a very similar rhythm and blues style to early Rolling Stones or Yardbirds, but they had one major difference. Organ player Alan Price who would give their music a unique feel and whoís influence could be heard in later bands such as The Doors. Their career can essentially be divided in half, the first half they were purely a rhythm and blues rock band, and in the second half of their career, they embraced psychedelic drugs, changed their lineup, and started playing psychedelic rock. This disc only covers their first incarnation as a rhythm and blues act.
The Animals are:
Eric Burdon- Vocals
Alan Price- Keyboards
John Steel- Drums
Chas Chandler (who would later become Jimi Hendrixís manager)- Bass
Hilton Valentine- Guitar
Note: The Animals lineup changed a lot. Alan Price left after just two albums I believe supposedly because of a fear of flying. Then Eric Burdon assembled a new band called Eric Burdon and the New Animals. This compilation only spands the early years and I believe that all the songs feature the original lineup.
House of the Rising Sun- Everyone has heard this song, though many probably do not know that it is the Animals. It is by far their most popular song and was a huge hit. And understandably so, as it is quite possibly their best song. Itís an old traditional folk tune, but they completely remake it with guitar and swirling organ. The song opens with a famous foreboding guitar riff and then Eric Burdon comes in singing ďThere is a house in New Orleans, they call the rising sunĒ in a downbeat, spooky voice. Priceís organ comes in and the songís tempo progressively increases as Burdonís singing gets louder and more powerful. The highlight of the song comes midway through the song when Price gives off a fantastic organ solo. Burdon shows off his fantastic voice going from brooding soft vocals to screaming the blues. I canít go a single day song without listening to this song at least once. Probably the best song the band ever recorded and itís a perfect way to start off the album. 5/5
Iím Crying- One of the few songs that The Animals actually wrote, this is a pretty good example of why they stuck mostly to covers. Itís not a bad song, but the lyrics and structure arenít original at all. Musically, the song is dominated by Priceís great organ riff and fills. Eric Burdon also adds his trademark bluesy vocals to the song. Everything about the song is solid, but nothing stands out about it. 2.5/5
Baby, Let Me Take You Home- This is a cover of Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, but they renamed it Baby, Let Me Take You Home and changed the chorus. The song starts out with a great guitar riff and has some nice guitar and organ fills throughout. But the real highlight is Burdonís singing, which is bluesy and powerful throughout, and by the end of the song he is just wailing the blues with fantastic power. 4/5
Around and Around- This is a pretty good Chuck Berry cover. The Rolling Stones also covered this song on their 2nd album which shows how close the two groups were. The Animals cover of this song is changed from the orignal version to have more of a rough and bluesy feel. Hilton Valentine plays the guitar riff and a pretty nice solo imitating Chuck Berry's style. Alan Price plays a bluesy piano line with some excellent fills and a good solo. This song fits Burdon's voice perfectly, and he turns it into a rave-up by the end. 3.5/5
Talkiní Bout You- This song starts out with some slow chanting and clapping but suddenly explodes into a rousing rocker with some great singing by Burdon. The song is way too short, but features some of Burdon's best and most powerful singing. I love his rendition of Shout at the end. Instrumentally, the song is nothing special, but Burdon's singing makes it a good song. 3.5/5
Donít Let Me Be Misunderstood- After House of the Rising Sun, this was the Animals biggest commerical success. Itís kind of an anthem of the youth countercultureís disapproval of the world and young peopleís frustration at not being understood. Musically, Priceís haunting organ lines dominate the song and combined with Eric Burdon's moody vocals give the song a brooding atmosphere. 4/5
Boom Boom- Their cover of the John Lee Hooker classic. Nothing can beat the original, but this version is excellent. The song doesnít have the same boogie feel and they change the song around a little and make it there own. Burdon singing on this song is fantastic. He has really great power and knows how to rouse things up. He screams his voice out. The organ solo is some of Price's finest playing. Fantastic cover and a definite highlight of the album. 5/5
Dimples- Another Chuck Berry cover. Burdonís singing is great like usual, especially towards the end as his singing gets more powerful. The guitar solo is also good, especially for the Animals who didnít place a huge emphasis on flashy guitar playing like their contemporaries the Yardbirds. Valentine's playing is always short and simple, but still good, and this solo is a great example of his style. 4/5
We Gotta Get Out of This Place- This song starts out with a great and immediately catchy bassline and some soft, deep vocals from Burdon before his singing gets louder and the song erupts into the anthemic chorus. This was kind of an anthem for the counterculture who wanted to escape from their boring lives and tackle something new and exciting. Eric Burdon may not have been able to write songs, but I admire him for being able to pick songs like this and turn them into anthems. Very catchy anthemic song with some great singing. 5/5
Iím In Love Again- A Fats Domion cover that suits the Animals style perfectly. It starts off with a riff that will get stuck in your head and Burdon's voice fits the song nicely. Both Valentine and Price deliver excellent solos that fit the song perfectly. 4/5
Bury My Body- This is probably the song that I have the least to say about. The organ riff is good, but gets a little repetive and bores me by the end. Aside from that, there's really nothing interesting about this song. Maybe the weakest song on the album. 2/5
Gonna Send You Back to Walker- This song took a really, really long time to grow on me. I disliked it for a while for some reason, but now I really like it a lot. There is nothing special about Eric's singing in this song, but the interplay between Valentine and Price is great. Throughout the song they trade off riffs and solos that save the song from mediocrity. They show off some pretty good chemistry 4/5
Story of Bo Diddley- An actual original song written by The Animals! Shocking, I know. Not exactly original lyrics; itís pretty much Burdon telling the story of rock and roll for five and a half minutes. It gets boring, because itís pretty much the same organ riff over and over again, which gets really annoying. But Burdon saves it with impersonations of fellow rockers like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones which are pretty humorous even if theyíre not always accurate. 3/5
Itís My Life- Similar to We Gotta Get Out of This Place in that it starts quietly with a cool, catchy bassline and explodes at the chorus. Like a few of the Animals other songs, it really emphasizes the spirit of the counterculture. Burdon sings in a menacing voice warning people to stay out of his life. ďItís my life and Iíll do what I want, donít push it (background), itís my mind and Iíll think what I want.Ē His gritty vocals are perfect for the song, and Burdon delivers the songs message (pretty much **** off) with some powerful and menacing singing. 5/5
Bring It On Home- This is a cover of the Sam Cooke classic. A very sad and emotional song. This song has been covered many, many times, but this is my favorite cover version. Burdon's singing on this song is perfect. He starts out slow and melancholy but speeds up eventually, leading into a very simple piano solo that fits the song perfectly. After House of the Rising Sun, this is probably my favorite song by The Animals. A perfect way to close out the album. 5/5
Overall, this is a very good cd. It doesnít cover their whole career, is missing some classics, and there is plenty of room on the cd for more songs, but despite those flaws I still enjoy it a lot. Eric Burdon really dominates the group with his singing. I realize that my review of each song might be redundent, because I comment on his singing and Priceís keyboard playing on probably every song. But they were the real leaders of the band. I really love Burdonís voice, itís so raw and gritty. And Price is what made them unique from other rhythm and blues bands of the sixties. The other members of the band were all talented and provided a very solid backbone to the group, but those two were in the spotlight. Unfortunately, Burdonís ego would dominate the group and cause them to break up before they could reach their peak. If they hadnít broken up, and Eric Burdon developed a songwriting talent, they could have been huge. That may have never happened, but they still made some great and unfortunately overlooked music. Iím giving this cd 4 stars. Itís a very good compilation and you can find it cheap. The only reason it doesnít get 5 stars is because they could fit a few more songs on, and it is lacking a bunch of latter day classics. The audio quality is also not great, and sometimes a little murky. It wouldnít hurt if they remastered it. But honestly, I feel that the recording quality might actually add to the cd because it gives it more of a garage band and raw sound, and I feel that that rough sound is how the Animals should be heard.
Feedback is appreciated.