PINK FLOYD – ” Animals ” Released 23rd January 1977

Posted: January 24, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Pink Floyd released Animals on 23rd January 1977. Although it was the seminal band’s tenth studio album, it remains one of their most famous for its Orwellian socio-political critique, an iconic cover and early prog inclinations.

Animals also marked the beginnings of dissent within the band over a chief songwriter. Three years after it’s release keyboardist Richard Wright would leave the band and The Wall would be hit shelves, casting a gargantuan shadow across the humble forerunner. Steeped in woeful political distaste and harder rock breakdowns, Animals rates as highly as Pink Floyd’s most well-known albums for more intrepid fans, but it’s recording process was one of the shakiest they ever accomplished. Here’s five things you didn’t know about the birthday record and it’s mascot, Algie the pig.

Animals is a concept album, based on the flaws of capitalism. Various castes in society are represented as different types of animals (Dogs as the businessmen, sheep as the powerless pawns, and pigs as the ruthless leaders). Although this album mainly attacks capitalism, several components are similar to George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm”: In the book various animals (mainly pigs, sheep, dogs, etc.) represent different roles assumed by individuals in a communist society.

A bracing reinvention of the Orwell theme from ‘Animal Farm,’ ‘Animals’ found Pink Floyd pushing back – and hard – against the looming, punk-driven idea that they had grown soft into middle age. At the time, this searing commentary on societal decay in the late-’70s couldn’t have seemed more different from its predecessors. Today, it’s clear that ‘Animals’ represents the first stirrings of Waters‘ more political bent (one that would dominate his recordings past his association with the group he co-founded), even as it finds Richard Wright making his last important contributions of the Waters era.

Behind Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall towers Animals, as the third iconic Pink Floyd record but feels more important than ever. Oddly the cover’s concept was conceived by Roger Waters himself. This being said, Floyd approached long time collaborators Hipgnosis to make the final product happen.

While Hipgnosis were originally approached by Floyd in 1968 to design the artwork for their second album A Saucerful of Secrets, it was the album cover for Dark Side of The Moon in 1973 which shot the design group to international fame. Hipgnosis’ surreal photographic style used old school film manipulation techniques such as multiple exposures, mechanical cut-and-pasting and general darkroom wizardry, which served as a precursor to modern, digital forms of photo manipulation. Manual photoshop, if you will.

Animals’ best track “Dogs” delivers even more incredible guitar work from Dave Gilmour, who makes his instrument cry and cackle, moan and mock, surge and slice. But this 17-minute leviathan is a brilliant collaboration between Floyd’s members – not just co-writers Waters and Gilmour (who each sing lead for a while), but also Mason (who pounds and cracks his way through the song’s changing tempos) and Wright (who plays no less than five different keyboards to bring a variety of textures to the epic). As lyricist, Waters is in full-on deride mode, as he writes about Machiavellian menace, but the writing is so crisp and clever (“And it’s too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around”), the scoffing becomes sport.

The Pig, While Hipgnosis may have been a pioneer of collage techniques, there was no photo trickery involved in the cover of AnimalsFloyd commissioned German company Ballon Fabrik and Australian artist Jeffrey Shaw to collaborate on the construction of the 12 meter long piggy, which was manoeuvred into position on December 2nd 1966.

The pig has gone on to serve as a motif for political vitriol, English rock and everything Pink Floyd. It appeared in the backdrop of a shot in Alfonso Cuarón’s thriller Children of Men which imagines a dystopian England similar to Animals’ vision of the future . Danny Boyle made a more lighthearted reference to the porcine balloon in his short Isle of Wonder for London’s 2012 Olympics.

The Studio, Previously to 1975, Floyd had struck a deal with EMI which allowed them unlimited recording time in return for reduced earnings from sales. When this deal expired the band bought a three story block in North London and made it their own. Britannia Row Studios was largely comprised of church halls, and Animals was the first album recorded there after it’s renovation. Pink Floyd went on to record The Wall in the same location, the echoing school chorus of “Another Brick In The Wall” owing it’s sound to the towering studio.

While singer and guitarist David Gilmour is only credited for the music of one track, the epic “Dogs” (previously known as “You Gotta Be Crazy”), this song and “Raving and Drooling”, a Waters song which would later become “Sheep”, were created at the same time as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, and originally destined for Wish You Were Here. Their creation process was similar to the method the band used during the late sixties and early seventies. They would adapt and expand their compositions by performing them live, and later in the studio find a more coherent form and concept for the whole album, with Waters writing the lyrics. Animals was the last Pink Floyd album created in this way, as the subsequent The Wall and The Final Cut, were primarily conceived by Waters and worked out in the studio with some input from Gilmour. Although Rick Wright admittedly did not contribute much compositionally, he had some influence on the arrangement of the songs, including solo playing on “Dogs” and “Sheep”. As with “Welcome to the Machine” and “Wish You Were Here” , Waters wrote “Pigs on the Wing” and “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” to tie together the other songs in the album’s concept. His dominance in the writing credits and the discrepancy with the actual creation process is directly related to the increasing tensions within the band.

Animals began to be formulated 20 years after George Orwell published the canonical Animal Farm, a political allegory of the Russian revolution and Stalinist era of the soviet union.

Pink Floyd’s album borrowed heavily from the ruleset of Orwell’s fable, and each song’s title represents an element, or animal, within the capitalist British regime of their time.

The album is bookended by parts one and two of Pigs on the Wing, a short intro and outro on a record otherwise dominated by immensely long jams. Dogs represents the businessmen, deceptive, vicious but ultimately lonely. The narrative within the lyrics tells of two dogs, one younger and one older, coming to realise the doomed reality of their own existence, while the young is encouraged to break the mould and dissent from his fate.

As with Animal Farm, Pigs (Three Different Ones) represents the flawed, gluttonous personalities which sit at the top of society’s ladder despite their horrific traits. The Sheep suffer under the power of pigs and dogs, mindlessly following suit with the herd around them. Parts 1 and 2 were linked by a guitar bridge performed by Snowy White (subsequently available on White’s 1996 album “Goldtop: Groups & Sessions”),

The anti-establishmentarian soul of Animals has never been as relevant as it is today. If you need some proof, here’s a video Roger Waters posted which depicts him playing Pigslive to 300,000 screaming fans in Mexico City:

For many fans, Animals represents the turning point at which Roger Waters took the reigns of Pink Floyd. The entire album save for Dogs, which was co-written by David Gilmour, was written by Waters.

Speaking to Mojo Magazine in 2008, Gilmour had the following to say.

Roger’s thing is to dominate, but I am happy to stand up for myself and argue vociferously as to the merits of different pieces of music, which is what I did on Animals. I didn’t feel remotely squeezed out of that album. Ninety per cent of the song “Dogs” was mine. That song was almost the whole of one side, so that’s half of Animals.”

Animals was almost a fully-realised artistic vision for Waters, but the control didn’t end there. When work on the album ceased, Waters pitched the concept of The Wall to his band mates, who were initially cautious but agreed to follow Waters once again.

In 1985 Waters left Pink Floyd, eventually calling them a “spent force” and splitting the band in their separate directions.

The giant, helium-filled pig seen on the cover was actually flown over Battersea Power Station for the photo shoot (under the direction of Storm Thorgerson). On the first day of shooting, a marksman was on hand in case the pig broke free. However, according to Thorgerson, this was considered an “insurance problem”, and he was not hired for the second day of shooting. Ironically, on December 3rd, 1976, during the second day, a gust of wind broke the pig free of its moorings. Because there was no one to shoot the pig down, it sailed away into the morning sky. A passenger plane reported seeing the pig, causing all the flights at London Heathrow Airport to be delayed. A police helicopter was sent up to track the pig, but was forced to return after following the pig to an altitude of 5,000 feet. A warning was sent out to pilots that a giant, flying pink pig was loose in the area. The CAA lost radar contact on the pig near Chatham in Kent, at a height of 18,000 feet and flying East. It finally landed in a farmer’s field, without much damage.

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