Music

Pink Floyd: Animals

It's 1977. You're young and pissed off. If you wanted noise and petulance, you had the Sex Pistols. But if you really wanted to rattle some cages, you had Animals.


Pink Floyd

Animals

Label: Capitol
US Release Date: 2011-09-27
UK Release Date: 2011-09-26
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Pink Floyd was my first musical love, and the album Animals was my first experience in encountering and cherishing something that others did not care for. As me, my brother, and various acquaintances of his were pillaging the band's back catalog to find out what made this wondrous band tick, I was repeatedly told to steer clear of 1977's Animals. As I grew older, people's negative opinions of this album became better articulated for me: The band was beginning to be all about Roger Waters at this point, as David Gilmour's influence in Pink Floyd was sinking to its eventual low-point, they were losing their audience to the punk kids: yadda yadda, four legs bad. But I've always felt, before and after the recent EMI remaster campaign complete with the celebratory flying of a replica pig over Battersea Power Station, that with a slight shift in perspective, Animals can be every bit of as surprising and steadfast a milestone as Dark Side of the Moon. The music that Pink Floyd accomplished during the '70s has never felt like an artifact of the '70s, nor does it sound like a compartmentalization of the '60s. You can't really say that it was ahead of its time because, in some cases, it feels like time has yet to catch up with them. The most magically aligned moments of Animals feel like they belong to a decade that never really existed. The rest of it stands the test of time as good old-fashioned anti-conformist rock and roll.

Since this is a reissue, we will get the repressing details out of the way first. Does the 2011 reissue of Animals sound better than the 1994 reissue? The short answer is yes. This new edition is louder, but it's not a tremendous difference. Unlike the reissue jobs on old albums by Yes and The Who, the regular Pink Floyd albums don't have any bonus tracks or liner notes (Extras are supposedly saved for the Immersion boxsets). Everything is much like it was before: lyrics, credits, some really attractive photographs, and the music. Animals' iconic image, the large inflatable pig that once escaped a photo shoot, teases the eye with a now-you-see-me-but-not-fully manner that only added to Pink Floyd's overall stubborn mystique.

Everyone knows the thread going through Animals; three long works are bookended by the acoustic love ditty "Pigs on the Wing." "Dogs" are the aggressors; "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" are the greedy ones who manipulate the dogs; and the "Sheep" are the spineless conformists that do whatever the dogs and pigs tell them to do. Conveniently ignoring the existence of sheepdogs, Waters strangely enough makes the sheep the victors here, announcing "Have you heard the news? / The dogs are dead" but then reminds them that they "Better stay home / And do what you’re told." The dogs aren't immune to this easy corralling either. In the outro of "Dogs" (every lengthy song on this album boasts a certifiably distinct and wonderful outro), Waters rattles off the things that slowly killed the dogs' spirits. This includes, appropriately enough, "who was trained not to spit in the fan" since later that year, Roger Waters did find himself spitting on a Pink Floyd concert goer in Montreal. Their crime? Setting off firecrackers while Waters was trying to sing "Pigs on the Wing."

The disgust-with-a-smirk of Animals can, but won't ever, threaten to steal attention away from the music itself. Richard Wright's keyboard motif that introduces us to "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" holds a power of dread that dwarfs any of Rick Wakeman's tomato-splattered synthetic ivory tickling from roughly the same time. From a guitar point of view, several of this song’s six-stringed passages mimic Wish You Were Here's "Have a Cigar" while the decidedly more chorus-ey moments foreshadow Gilmour's eponymous debut solo album that would appear just a year later. And we can't forget the sustained vocal notes from "Sheep" that turn seamlessly into bits of falling action from a synthesizer explosion. To this day, I have yet to hear anything quite like that.

Roger Waters' anti-establishment spirit was alive and well in Animals, even if Pink Floyd were in danger of being lumped into the arena-sized dinosaur circuit by the likes of John Lydon. Targets like morality watchdog Mary Whitehouse in "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" and the irreverent skewing of Psalm 23 on "Sheep" help the listener understand the gravity of the cynicism here and what it was like to truly piss people off back in 1977. If you wanted noise, you had the Pistols. But if you wanted to rattle cages, you had Animals. As far as longevity is concerned, even though it has been over 20 years since I first wandered into this farm, hearing the songs on Animals still makes me snap to attention this very day.

9

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Music

Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.