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BLACK LIVES MATTER!

The Forgotten Animals


Umma

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This review was written by an old friend of mine aka 'Whong'

The Forgotten Animals

It's commonly agreed by those who know Pink Floyd's music, that far and away, the band's most widely praised period came during the Seventies, especially 1973 -79. We've all heard "Dark Side of the Moon" countless times, and continue to hold her in highest esteem, year after year, even as new things such as the "Wizard of Oz" connection make headlines. The follow up, "Wish You Were Here", is also highly regarded for it's cerebral blues, thoughtful Syd Barrett tributes, and the title track performance at the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "The Wall", of course, is considered by many to be the Floyd's crowning achievement, and one of the most powerful musical pieces ever to be unleashed upon willing ears. Three superb masterpieces, worked on in various capacities, by a foursome of incredibly talented individuals.

Here, in the United States, "classic rock" stations don't miss a day where at least one track from each of these gems isn't included in their playlists. As a hardcore Floyd fan (and I'm sure I speak for many others) I find it frustrating that, over time, as good as these classic recordings are, not more of Pink Floyd's catalogue is aired, especially given the size and overall quality of their body of work. Yeah, we occasionally hear "Learning to Fly" or perhaps "One Of These Days", but the overall selection of "radio-friendly Floyd" has become sadly compromised to vacuum-like predictability. If I stay on the present course here, I'll end up in an exasperated verbal tirade regarding the complete lack of creative balls by classic rock formatted radio, which is NOT my meaning, as it's a pointless exercise.

My point I'd like to make is rather, that of a rediscovery of a forgotten Pink Floyd classic from the same time period - the 1977 album "Animals". As a fourteen year old kid, this album was to be my first Floydian purchase, based simply on the strength of my friend's older brother saying it was a killer record. On first play, I didn't know quite what to make of it - kind of liked it, kind of didn't. Here was a kid weaned on a staple diet of the debut Boston album, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, Sabbath, and yes.......even Kiss! The opening acoustic song was a "skip over" every time. And the other pieces......interesting but so damn long!

But then I witnessed the concert (my first) at Tampa Stadium for the "In The Flesh" tour, and everything changed. The show was nothing short of a religious experience for me, and certainly got the ball rolling in what would become my twenty-one year (and counting) passionate love affair with Pink Floyd. I got back to the Animals album immediately after the concert, and it has remained my cherished favourite Floyd ever since. No, it's not a perfect record. I certainly understand why older Floyd fans than myself might have dismissed it. In terms of Pink Floyd's earlier releases, this was far more abrasive and less cerebral, with even the familiar vocals of Dave Gilmour (and sometimes Rick Wright) giving way to Roger Water's own distinctive, but as yet, unfamiliar vocal style. It can also be argued that the band's chemistry was at the beginning stages of deterioration. According to writer's credits, only Dave Gilmour managed to land a co-credit on "Dogs". Wright, for the first time, had no song writing credits, and Nick Mason only managed to slip his name into the fold by gracing the album with his calligraphy on the liner notes and lyrics.

Another discernable difference was on the album's production value (especially when compared to the two previous). Much more scaled down in terms of sound effects, sonic lushness and surreal overtones - this one was far more "raw". This might be due to, in part, Animals being the Floyd's first recording effort at their own Britannia Row Studios. Different atmospheres for recording will effect the final product to a degree.

Another probable cause for change might be Roger's own reaction to the late-seventies Punk Rock Movement, and his desire to lash out contemptively in his own way. Animals certainly rocked out musically and lyrically like no other Pink Floyd record before it. And even moreso in concert! The acoustic opener, "Pigs On The Wing, part one" is simply Roger playing an acoustic guitar, singing what would be the only "humane" moment on the recording. The power of the song comes from it's all around simplicity, ditching all the Orwellian overtones to come. Just a world weary man breathing a sigh of relief that, at the end of the dog-eat-dog day, somebody cares for him, and vice-versa.

What follows is, in my opinion, the band's greatest moment, a song of the overachieving middleman, "Dogs". I will strongly argue that there is no other song in Pink floyd's entire catalogue that better displays Gilmour's versatility on his instrument. This is not just by virtue of the song's length - Mr. Gilmour runs the gamut from inspired acoustic strumming, to soaring Stratocaster crescendos, to lap steel interludes............all played with his characteristic sense of melody and emotion. Much of the guitar work on this song, while instantly recognizable, is somewhat out of the norm for him. Seems as though he was more experimental and less subdued in what he offered to the song's guitar work. He also sings roughly the first half of the lyrics, giving a very nice counterpoint to Roger's vocals. It's always great to hear the two of them singing on the same piece!

Water's lyrics are as poignant as he's ever written, with that incredible insight he's become known for. His song's protagonist will stop at nothing in his endeavourment to reach the top, whether it be to slight by false face or commit the downright stab in the back. Inevitably, for all his cunning and ruthlessness, the "dog" finds himself succumbing to the weight of his "stone" unable to "fight the good fight" anymore and eventually resigning himself to humbled resignation and ultimately dying of cancer and paranoia.

Throughout "Dogs", the song's tempo changes many times, with Nick Mason providing some very inspired drumming, and Rick Wright's contribution, while mixed back and somewhat sparse, displays complimenting keyboard flourishes and some good electric piano parts. At two points during the piece, we hear the tape effect of dogs barking. The first time we hear this, it's done straight forward over an acoustic guitar lead. Later into the song, we hear barking and whistling over Gilmour's lap steel and slide guitars. At this point, the canine utterances eventually fuse into synthesised voice and keyboard , to great effect.

Next up is "Pigs (Three Different Ones)", which undoubtedly has one of the most powerful introductions to any song ever recorded. Is that Roger I hear on fretless bass? Ah......well probably it's Dave, but no matter.....this is certainly another great highlight of the rock solid showing of Pink Floyd at their funkiest.

Waters hits home with an angry tongue lashing directed towards all manner of corporate and political greedmongers, giving any 70's punk rocker a lesson in venomous wordsmithing. "You radiate cold shafts of broken glass" actually hurts! To hear that style of vocalizing on a Floyd record at that time must have been a real shocker to hardcore fans.

During the instrumental segments of the song, Pink Floyd hit full stride in that funky style all their own, with clever use of a vocoder to accentuate pig-like noises over the top of the arrangement. All in all, a great jam, and overall. probably the most well known track from the album.

"Sheep" is the third and final installment in the Animal Farm trilogy, and this one's an all out straight forward rocker. The song starts out with the bleeting of sheep and a very atmospheric keyboard solo by Wright. This gives way to to a bone-crunching bassline, somewhat reminiscent of "One Of These Days", with Roger vocalising again. How does this guy fit all that verbage so cleverly into a flowing piece of music? His words are directed upon the masses of everyday non-thinkers, who do as they've been taught to do, without much individual thought process. (Much like the listener's of radio formatted playlists! Sorry - couldn't resist that one!) No need to go into such detail here,nobody wants the role of the sheep, but most of us are, to some degree or another.

The song literally gallops along with the band moving at full throtle in a very succinct jam. Things slow down during some of the instrumental segways and get rather decadent, but are then salvaged by Roger's doctored reading of the Twenty-third Psalm. Mr. Waters at his eloquent best here folks. The remaining moments of "Sheep" work their way back into a gallop and then into another powerful showcase of the Floyd's jamming prowess at the end. finally, the album ends off as it started, with a tender reprisal of "Pigs On the Wing".

Although nearly twenty-two years old, the themes on this record are very much relevant today. If you've got it. spin it again - if you don't, and you appreciate the Band's music - this would be a very worthy purchase. It's unique in many ways in terms of their overall catalogue, and it sits very snuggly between "Wish You Were Here" and "The Wall".

Shine On Floydians!

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I thought this post was really going to be about forgotten animals

such as

wombat.jpg

wombats

tigerquoll1.jpg

tiger quolls

lbp1.jpg

and whatever this thing is

But I do like Floyd... I must admit I've never listened to this album... I think I'll give it a shot.

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that's why I put 'Pink Floyd' in the sub title as a clue for all those who can read :P

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sorry reading is something I've never been good at...... pick on someone with a brain big enough to defend his/herself.....

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There was one time I went around and asked people i knew to name 3 pink floyd songs that werent on WYWH, DSOTM, or the Wall...not many people could

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DSOTM was the first Floyd albumI heard... and I cant knock it, but I'd put Animals first then Meddle... then the rest.

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Animals was, is and always will be my favorite Floyd effort. While the first trip I took on acid was to DSOTM, but it was a LSD "vacation with Animals that Floyd took me around the known universe with me having to leave my living room chair.

As for so-called Floyd friendly radio stations, the vast majority of them cater to the relatively short attention span of the listener. It is rare, indeed, that you'll ever hear a cut from Animals on commercial radio. Having been in radio nearly 15 years, I only once played a track from Animals (Dogs). While the listeners were appreciative, management almost fired me. Such is life I suppose.

The Doctor

:scratchin:

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I dunno what more to add here! Its one of the most excellent reviews of Animals I've ever read! thanks for posting it umma! Anda BIG THANKS to 'Whong'!

It feels good to find out there are other Floydians who regard Animals as a great piece of work! It certainly has been my favorite for years!

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I agree madcap... it's well written. 'Whong' had planned to do a whole series of Pink Floyd reviews at the time (1997 ish) but unfortunately, that was the only one he sent me. It would be nice if he'd show up at BeatKing and do a few more. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yeah The Animals album was cool but I personally thought Atom Heart Mother was a bit further out and a earlier album as well.

I also dug Ummagumma a 2 album set, with one album live and the other a studio album.

After Atom Heart Mother I believe came Meddle which was also good.

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My first exposure to Pink Floyd was in summer school, 1978. Eighth grade, I had to retake algebra...doh! During our 20 minute cigarette break one morning some of the heads from North Stonington grabbed the cassette player* out from their car and they threw in "Pigs Three Different Ones." That was my introduction to Pink Floyd. I had never heard anything so fucking badass and visceral before in my short and fairly sheltered life...nor had I yet heard anyone use profanity in a song either...it was definitely a profound experience on many levels.

There is an element of funk and backbeat to Pink Floyd that just sends their tunes to another level beyond most of the other art/prog bands. Years later I was in a band that covered Pigs Three Different Ones--we had such a blast with it! It is just an awesome tune no matter if you are just listening to it or playing it.

*remember those old flat rectangular cassette players before the boombox? the tape went in the top all the buttons were at the end record rewind ff play & stop...one speaker pointing straight up at the other end, 4 d batteries, lucky if it would last 5 hours...somehow we were all so used to the crappy tinny sound it put out it sounded as good as headphones on, standing around in a parking lot or out in the woods somewhere. Especially if you drank and smoked enough...

Edited by CTC Command
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Years later I was in a band that covered Pigs Three Different Ones--we had such a blast with it! It is just an awesome tune no matter if you are just listening to it or playing it.

Les Claypools Frog Brigade do a cover of the whole Animals album..... and while it isn't Floyd... it's not half bad. you gotta admire any band that can pull off covering an album like Animals and get away with it.

Nice tribute.

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  • 3 months later...

Animals is one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums..... The Wall is another one.

TTFN :)

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