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A pivotal point in Pink Floyds history..,
This review is from: Animals (Audio CD)
It’s no doubt this album hailed a significant shift in who had the most creative control over the band. Nine years since the departure of Syd Barett from the bands line up, after nine years of working strenuously together, it transpired that for this 1977 album it was Roger Waters, rather then David Gilmour, who contributed most to the output of the band. Five years and two more albums later, this shift in power would lead to the bands temporary demise and a much speculated lawsuit.
This was four years after what is generally acknowledged as Pink Floyd’s finest moment, Dark Side of the Moon, which was no doubt a seminal moment in recording history for a number of reasons. However, by this point the musical climate was changing. Floyd were beginning to be viewed as ‘Dinosaurs’, and a type of music called punk that had been brewing in NYC for many years had exploded onto the scene, changing social and musical attitudes worldwide (although soon the notion of punk music would become as equally contrived as the view of Floyd as a pretentious band for stoners). Floyd had become associated with an old age of hallucinogenic, hippy led space rock, and the long tracks that had peppered their fantastic 1975 album Wish You Were Here only enforced that view.
With those two points in mind, it’s not difficult to see why Animals does have a partly different sound to Floyd’s previous two masterpieces. It is edgier and more guitar driven, Waters (who supplies all the albums vocals) spits with more sarcastic malice then ever before. However, Floyd had thankfully not given up their penchant for epic tracks, and the album’s core three songs all clock in at over ten minutes. In fact, the album keeps many of the aspects that make Floyd such an excellent and unique group, such as the long instrumental sections and the ambient noises (heard here in the form of cows, sheep etc). It has a definite floydian stamp all over it, and that, for me, is why it is one of Floyd’s greatest albums.
With Animals, you get everything brilliant about Floyd cased into fifty minutes. Roger Waters’s lyrics are incredible, drawing on Orwellian influences and making them relevant to 1970’s society. He sounds as disaffected and angry as many a punk rocker on the song ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’, and although they give a definite indication to the lyrical directions he would take to an extreme on ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Final Cut’, they are less personal here, making them more relevant and in a sense more affecting.
Although Gilmour has less of a say here then on previous albums, his musicianship is reliably mindblowing, from the atmospheric ‘Dogs’ to the brooding riff on ‘Pigs’. This album stands as possibly the last time in the bands four member period that every member is utilised to the best of their ability.
Also, Unlike ‘The Wall’, which was indeed a sprawling, epic concept album, every track here stands up brilliantly in its own right. There is no filler. Each song is marvellous in its own way, and each could be a classic, yet for some reason the songs from this album do tend to be slightly overlooked. ‘Dogs’ certainly stands alongside ‘Echoes’ as Pink Floyd at their very best, despite the differences between the two songs. Seventeen minutes long, it is a simplistically complex creation which combines some of Water’s greatest lyrics with Gilmour’s mammoth guitar performance to create a warningly malevolent soundscape. The afore mentioned Pigs is a snarling tirade against society, driven by bleak, fast paced guitar and eerie keyboard. Sheep is bizarre, eclectic, but still brilliant, and the first and last tracks, Pigs on The Wing (parts 1 and 2) are both acoustic, and both poignant.
In the history of one of the worlds greatest ever bands, Animals could certainly be viewed as a transition album. Water’s social indignation began to monopolise the lyrics, and other members began to take a back seat when it came to song writing. However, taken out of context, it stands tall as an incredible, still very relevant album, a magical moment when all four members of the band came together one final time to create a small slice of still underrated musical perfection.