There are so many greatest hits collections of the best of the Animals that at first glance "Retrospective" just seems like the latest in a long line of such albums going back to ABKCO's 1966 collection of "The Best of the Animals." A reasonable person could be content as long as their CD has "House of the Rising Sun," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and "We've Got to Get Out of This Place." But for fans who see the Animals as the second best English R&B group of the British Invasion after the Rolling Stones, this 22-track collection deserves prime consideration if no other reason than all of the tracks come from the ABKCO masters and utilize Direct Stream Digital (which is what ABKCO successfully used in the Rolling Stones albums reissued in 2003). Yes, it is a pain when you get albums and then a few years later they are digitally remastered or whatever to make them sound even better than before, but maybe your dog will eat your Animals CD or you will lend it to a friend who never returns anything and you will need a new one, which will justify your picking up "Retrospective."
Of course the Animals were more than their three greatest hits (but those are three really good songs for one group to have recorded), and "Retrospective" is a reminder of that. They had "Baby Let Me Take You Home" (#21 in the U.K.) before "House of the Rising Sun" hit #1 in the U.S., and while Eric Burdon was always the group's front man it is Hilton Valentine's guitar riff and Alan Price's organ playing that really makes that song work. In terms of U.S. chart success the group had "I'm Crying" (#19) in 1964 and then in 1965, "Boom Boom" (#43), "Bring It On Home to Me" (#32), "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (#15), and "We've Got to Get Out of This Place" (#13), which in this collection is the original U.S. single version. The follow year they charted "Don't Bring Me Down" (#12), "Help Me Girl" (#29), "Inside-Looking Out" (#34), "It's My Life" (#23), and "See See Ryder" (#10).
By 1967 Eric Burdon & the Animals were clearly into their psychadelic phase (if this were an LP you would think it was time to flip over to the B Side). "San Fransiscan Nights" (#9) was the last Top Ten hit for the Animals, followed by "When I Was Young" (#15), and then in 1968 "Anything" (#80), "Monterey" (#15), and "Sky Pilot (Part One)" (#14), and "White Houses" (#67). The album ends with a radio edit of "Spill the Wine" as a sort of musical answer to the question, "Whatever happened to Eric Burdon?" after the group essentially broke up in 1969. So, overall, "Retrospective" does have all of the group's hits, at least those defined by making the Billboard singles chart, which explains why I have started listening to more of their songs than the big three.