240 of 259 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most unfairly underrated album in rock.
It's hard to call anything of Pink Floyd's underrated. The band has two entries in the 'Top 20 Best Selling Albums of All Time' list, matching the Eagles and the Beatles for two albums in the chart. Their best-known album, Dark Side of the Moon, spent 741 consecutive weeks (14+ years) in the Billboard 200 Album charts. Their devoted fan base includes millions. And that's...
Published on July 26, 2001 by cyberwares
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A boot
This is a bootleg album, not an official release. Made in an European country and sold here pretending to be the real thing. It has a bar code and everyting, these bootlegers just keep getting smarter, ha? DONT BUY THIS THING.
Published on February 9, 2006 by Blues Bro
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240 of 259 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most unfairly underrated album in rock.,
It's hard to call anything of Pink Floyd's underrated. The band has two entries in the 'Top 20 Best Selling Albums of All Time' list, matching the Eagles and the Beatles for two albums in the chart. Their best-known album, Dark Side of the Moon, spent 741 consecutive weeks (14+ years) in the Billboard 200 Album charts. Their devoted fan base includes millions. And that's not even half of their achievements. So to call anything of theirs underrated is rather unbelievable, but in the case of Animals, it's total truth.
For an opener, Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) is a rather fitting start. It's short, cynically romantic, and simple; just an acoustic guitar with vocals with an animal metaphor from the get-go.
Then comes Animals' most notable track, the seventeen minute 'Dogs.' Seventeen minutes is a rather long time on one subject, but in Pink Floyd style they make it count, with plenty of David Gilmour's wonderful guitar solos. For those who view rock and roll as guitar solo heaven, Gilmour is your god. Also add to the combination the lyrical genius that is Roger Waters. His imagery with the album-long metaphor of animals to humans is striking and fantastic. The dog in this song is a greedy businessman, who is always first to pick up stray meat, first to make a kill, etc. My favorite line is 'You have to keep trusted by the people that you lie to, so that when they turn their backs on you, you'll get the chance to put the knife in.' Even more incredible imagery fills the song as the lyrics describe the painful, lonely death of the dog, specifically from cancer.
Next on the album is 'Pigs (Three Different Ones).' Roger Waters' lyrics describe pigs as the overweight, overpowered authority of the 'farm.' This song spends more time criticizing authority figures like Mary Whitehouse (The Brit equivalent of Tipper Gore), than it does maintaining the pig metaphor. The song features plenty of grunts and voice box to decorate the song as it hops from one pig to another. You may have seen the South Park episode where Cartman tells his new fourth grade teacher 'ha ha charade you are, teach-a!' I say no more. Drummer Nick Mason keeps a great rhythm going through the slow track, certainly able to keep the beat.
The last opus of a song is the ten-minute rocker 'Sheep.' This is my favorite of the album. It features the trademark Pink Floyd 4/3 jumpy rock beat (as also heard in 'One of These Days' or 'Money'). Richard Wright gets his moment of shine with this song since his solos decorate much of the middle. Waters again delivers a powerful vocal as his lyrics describe the most submissive mammal, the sheep. They are pictured as mindless lemmings that do whatever they are told with no objections. They do rebel, however, as you can barely hear the satirical version of the 23rd Psalm, rewritten to include karate and meat grinders in the middle of the track. Do your research, it's funny. My favorite part of this song is the ending, the crushing guitar is as hard a rock as you're going to get out of Pink Floyd and its anthem-like tone will stay in your head long after the song ends.
The last track, Pigs on the Wing (Part 2) closes in its simplicity, ending what is a terrific album.
Apart from the music, the artwork of the cover is fantastic. That flying pig is actually an inflatable that was brought into the air above the power station. Its dream-like cloudy sky looks more like a painting, but ask cover artist Storm Thorgerson yourself and he'll tell you, it's photograph.
Just because you see two songs just over a minute and three songs averaging over ten, this does not mean the album is a messed up project or a throwaway. This album has such great consistency with defiant, symbolic lyrics, powerful guitar crush and Floyd cynicism. It was never appreciated when it was originally released, but it's totally worth reconsideration today.
350 of 383 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look out -- Roger Waters is on a tear!,
Roger Waters and David Gilmour composed "Animals" at a time in England when the face of rock music was drastically changing, 1977. Punk bands were forming everywhere, and they all hated Pink Floyd's brand of drawn-out, ethereal music -- stuff they felt was pompous. Thus, given the times, "Animals" turns out to be an impressively guitar-driven album, musical compositions that, despite it all, are also drawn-out and ethereal as only Pink Floyd can be. The middle of this great album courageously contains three lengthy songs, much too long- winded for radio, thus spoiling the album's commercial viability. Also, "Animals" strangely opens and closes with two short and melodically pleasing acoustic songs about love gone bad; "Pigs on the Wing," parts 1 and 2, somehow work well with the overall vibe of the album. Call it a settling of the nerves.
In many instances, "Animals" is fairly stripped-down, with Gilmour's soothing voice completely missing, and Richard Wright contributing absolutely nothing, thus nixing past creative keyboard elements. The possessive Waters writes all lyrics, and the concept of "Animals" is entirely his. In his harshest manner, Waters rips apart late-1970s society through the use of three types of animals: dogs, the materialistic and glib "yuppies" of a decade later, concerned only with wealth, good times, power and their own well-being; "Pigs" are no less flattering, high-positioned and self-righteous, they preach and dispense their high-minded, moralist views from atop the world's ranks; "Sheep" are the aimless and docile masses who get used and abused by the more powerful Dogs and Pigs in society. It's pretty acrimonious stuff, and downbeat lyrics like "all alone and dying of cancer" don't do much to lighten the mood. Weary of the corrupt and crumbling society surrounding him, Waters went on a musical rampage. Political foes, economic hardships and sleazy low-lifes all get their medicine from the non-apologetic Waters, within the confines of these thematically devised tunes.
Though he writes good, astute, observational lyrics, Waters is a bit of a "dog" himself, and he often comes across as self-imposing and self-righteous as the album moves on. Ultimately, "Animals" is great because of the actual MUSIC. Enter Gilmour, thankfully rescuing this one-man monopoly on creativity. Gilmour remains his usual melodic self, pushing forth the fairly paltry compositions with his brand of tunefulness and soaring guitars.
On "Dogs," an interesting moment occurs after Waters cheerily wails, "Have a good drown/Dragged down by the stone." The word "stone" is then repeated countless times through a haze of electronic muffling as dogs bark chillingly in the background and a synth sizzles quietly. Music like this is not heard everyday, and Pink Floyd should be commended for seriously reviving their music and changing with the times a bit back in 1977. The band's more quaint and drug-induced days of singing about lazy nature scenes or fairy-tale scenarios where one merely observes (see The Piper at the Gates of Dawn) were long over by "Animals." It became socio-political music with a harder edge, all run by Waters and Gilmour. There's a sense of purpose and direction from Waters on "Animals" that is eerily one-dimensional, but it's a prelude to an even better concept album to come. Though it's not Waters' creative apex (that would be The Wall (Deluxe Packaging Digitally Remastered), "Animals" is astoundingly excellent, profound music, and the continuation of the civil war within this band.
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on the 2011 Remaster,
This review is from: Animals (Audio CD)
So enough has been said about this album in many other Amazon reviews. This is my favorite Pink Floyd album, although it didn't always hold this status. On first hearing, it can seem very dense and inaccessible, given the length of the three main tracks. But the old addage of "rewards repeated listens" certainly applies here. The only real knock is that Rick Wright seems missing-in-action on this record, a fact generally attributed to his heavy cocaine use during the recording of this record (and which would eventually lead to his outster after "The Wall" was recorded). So while I would rate "Wish You Were Here" a VERY close second, this remains the best PF album, IMO.
So....the big question is the sound quality. I owned the original CD pressing of this album, the 1992 box set version, the 1996 remaster, and now this version. My overall opinion is that there have been discernible improvements with every release, and this time is definitely no exception. The closest parallel I can think of is the Beatles' 2009 remaster campaign. This album, like those, seems to have a deeper sound, with more resolution around the bass end. The drums have a nice, throaty sound (most evident in the verse of "Pigs"), and I can definitely hear the bass line better now (and this is even more noticable on "Dark Side of the Moon," as an aside). During the acoustic portion of "Dogs," I swear I can hear the clicking of Gilmour's pick on the guitar strings. And the last verse of "Dogs" packs a bigger punch than on any version I can remember.
But with Pink Floyd, the silent parts are almost important as the notes they play, and it's here where I can really hear something different going on. Its the space BETWEEN the notes that sound really quiet and clean here, giving everything that much more punch with each drumbeat.
If you are an audiophile with even a modest setup, and if having the best version of the album is important to you, grab this release, and for $11.99 (at Best Buy), you will definitely not be disappointed. If you do most of your listening on an MP3 player at low encoding rates, the improvements here may be lost on you.
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Pink Floyd!,
How could this legendary progressive-rock band possibly top the classic double-header of "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here"? Simple---drop the saxophonist and the female backup singers, make the music less spacey and more harder-edged, and lay down some of the most powerful, enthralling, bone-crunching prog-rock ever committed to tape! The mighty Pink Floyd did just that with 1977's "Animals," an astounding rock album that is not only an all-time classic, but it's also hands down the band's best work. Hey, I love "Dark Side" et al just as much as the next Floyd fan, but with "Animals," Pink Floyd ROCK with everything they've got, and for the very last time as a four-piece (session musicians were once again used by the band for "The Wall" and every Floyd album that has followed it).The theme of "Animals," inspired by George Orwell's "Animal Farm," is a journey through society split into three caste systems of animals---dogs, pigs, & sheep. The dogs are the ruthless cutthroats, the pigs are the stuck-up authority figures, and the sheep are the blind followers. Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright blaze through this work with astonishing musical force. With no extra help from session musicians, the band have only themselves to play off of here, and because of that, the band's musical power is given extra strength. "Dogs," in particular, is a great example---Gilmour's shimmering acoustic guitar strums initially sound far off, but then draw closer. As Wright's eerie keyboards make a cameo, Gilmour lays down the strongest, most powerful lead vocal he's ever done for the band. Then the rest of the band kick in, and "Animals" becomes absolutely mindblowing as the band REALLY shift into high gear.I also love the album's intro and outro in the form of Waters' two parter, "Pigs On The Wing," which is actually a love song to Waters' then-wife, Carolyn. The first part of the song beautifully acts as a sort of "calm before the storm," as it settles you into your seat or on your bed, and gets you ready for the sheer musical force to follow. Forty minutes later, after the Floyd's incredible treatment of "Sheep" finally fades away into the distance, Waters comes in with the second half of "Pigs On The Wing," the peace *after* the storm, if you like. It ends the album on a very poignant, memorable note.Pink Floyd have got many brilliant albums in their catalog, but "Animals" is the big one for me. It's outstanding, and, as a concept album, it's also a very fascinating allegory about our own society. Simply put, "Animals" is a brilliant opus from one of rock's greatest bands.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animals can actually rock!!!,
This album is simply amazing. When I first bought this, I wasnt real impressed because i was used to hearing the spacey-layed back sound of Dark Side, and the beautiful textures of WYWH. This is more of a fast-paced, complex album and it really works for the Floyd. I'll describe each song:
'Pigs on the wing (pt. 1)' - nice acoustic & vocal song from roger waters. Like a previous reviewer said, "the calm before the storm"
'Dogs' - awesome acoustic intro with some nice keyboard touches. Builds up into an amazing guitar solo, slows down, then goes into an even more amazing solo. The vocal melody is flawless and i must say, this is probably one of the best floyd tunes out there.
'Pigs (three different ones)' - cool intro with the pig and keyboards. Great lyrics to this one (roger waters basically bashing some british people). Got a really cool talkbox solo that sounds like pig grunts. This tune has an amazingly amazing outro solo that makes Dave Gilmour shine.
'Sheep' - The fastest (and probably heaviest) song on the album. Great keyboard work. Its awesome how when roger waters sings, he holds out those notes, and then they turn into synthesizers. Amazing production on this tune. cool outro with some nice guitar chords.
'Pigs on the wing (pt. 2) - basically the same as the first pigs on the wing, but with different lyrics and its at the end.
Hope this was helpful. If you like this album try to download 'Gotta be Crazy' and 'Raving and Drooling', you'll be pleasantly surprised....
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs, Pigs, and Sheep, Oh My!!,
Without a doubt the most underrated album in the Pink Floyd legacy, ANIMALS had three unfortunate circumstances thrust upon when it was released in 1977. Number one, it wasn't as accessible as the band's multi-million seller DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, which was still on the charts when ANIMALS was released. Number two, the blistering punk movement had erupted and painted progressive rock into a corner. Finally, number three, the album had the unfortunate luck of being sandwiched in between Floyd's two most popular albums - the warmly atmospheric WISH YOU WERE HERE and the double concept album THE WALL. But despite all those shortcomings, ANIMALS is a solid album from start to finish and has gained some recognition over the past 20 years. It is now widely regarded as one of Floyd's best works, as it should be.
Pink Floyd were always dark and cynical in their music, but they also had a tinge of beauty that was undeniable. For ANIMALS, they decided to focus a lot more on the darkness and cynicism due to the subject matter, resulting in their most unfriendly recording. Roger Waters' theme on the record is inspired by George Orwell's classic novel ANIMAL FARM (it's a great book, everyone should read it), by taking all that was horrible and disgusting about society and human nature in the late '70s and classifying the humans as dogs (blind money grubbers), pigs (totaliterian "leaders"), and sheep (the weak followers). Lyrically, this is some of the best stuff Waters has ever written.
The album is bookended by two parts of "Pigs on the Wing," which are both a minute each. Despite their short length, these songs have really beautiful acoustic guitar and vocals. It's actually a bit misleading, since the album is much darker. I guess they wanted to be optimistic before turning pessimistic. The 17-minute epic "Dogs" is a brilliant and well-written piece of music. The lyrics are deep and thought-provoking, the melodies are stunning, and the band's interplay is tight. Incredibly textured keyboard work from Rick Wright permeates throughout the song, complimented by simple yet consistent drumming from Nick Mason and raw, spellbinding guitar playing from David Gilmour. The music effortlessly flows from dark parts, to heavy parts, and to mellower parts, and everything in between. Just an amazing song.
"Pigs (Three Different Ones)" is 11 minutes long, and sounds like a terrific leftover from WISH YOU WERE HERE. More great keyboard playing from Wright is shown, but Gilmour's guitar definitely comes to the forefront this time around. It also has a bouncy, playful rhythm that gleefully mocks the hypocrisy of the pigs. The 10-minute "Sheep" is a combo of the previous two tracks, by combining the epic feel of "Dogs" with the energetic moodiness of "Pigs." There's some really awesome bass playing from Waters on this one, and the song does take a left turn with a really spooky mid-section before the end.
With five songs and three them over 10 minutes long, ANIMALS won't be everybody's cup of tea. It's the band's least enjoyable album (from a musical standpoint) and the music and message will take a while to sink in. But when it does, you'll be grateful, and that's what makes ANIMALS stand head and shoulders above Pink Floyd's other material. Instead of pleasing the punk rockers, they rightfully followed their own path.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pink Floyd's Most Underrated Work,
If Wish You Were Here is an internal cry of disconnected sorrow, then Animals is a caustic scream of venomous rage. This often-overlooked masterpiece was yet another leap forward for Pink Floyd. Coming off the bleak sad beauty of Wish You Were Here, the band lashed out with an edgier more aggressive sound to match Waters' vicious lyrical attack. The result was three brilliant sprawling tracks of anger and frustration sandwiched between two intimate acoustic moments of optimism.
Animals represents Waters' view of the avarice in modern society that divides people, creating the harsh, cold, uncaring environment in which he feels we live. His Orwellian world is broken down into three basic types: pigs (those who have and hold control with a self-consumed greed); dogs (who aspire to "pig status" and forsake everything and everyone in order to gain it); and sheep (the mindless masses who quietly accept all that is thrust upon them). Though a knee-jerk reaction is to view this work as a statement against capitalism, it would be more accurate to say this as an attack on anti-humanism. The subjects in Roger's lyrics are belittled for their pursuit of self-serving agendas at the expense of all else. The basic human needs of connection and understanding should not be compromised. This is clearly illustrated in the album's opener and closer, Pigs On The Wing, and is an obvious undercurrent in all of Roger's work.
As is typical of Pink Floyd, the band's music compliments and lifts Waters' poignant lyrics, painting images that words alone could never do. David Gilmour in particular shines throughout, showcasing his incredible guitar mastery in all its passionate glory in several very spectacular guitar solos. Richard Wright's keyboards are both fiery and surreal, creating a chilling feel of unease in many spots to underscore Roger's lyrical intent. Nick Mason's ever-mindful focus on dynamics proves why he is the consummate drummer. His galloping attack in the first and final sections of Dogs seems to spur Gilmour on, as Dave unleashes his stinging, gnashing guitar to dramatic effect. Roger Waters works his bass as sympathetically as Mason does his drums, creating funky pulses and palpitating rhythms, as well as adding to the harmonic alchemy. Throughout the entire album, lead vocals are sung almost exclusively by Waters who rises to the challenge with his inimitable style, injecting the lyrics with just the right amounts of bile and venom. The only exception is Dogs, where the lead vocal is split between Gilmour and Waters, Dave taking the first half and Roger the second. The Timbre on Dave's voice is akin to that of the vocal he laid down for Money, and remains one of my favorites performed by him. In my opinion, the music on this album contains every element that makes Pink Floyd, PINK FLOYD: It is dynamic, dramatic, moody, powerful, and very visual. This is illustrated best, I think, in Dogs, an epic song of uncompromising brilliance that surely stands as one of Pink Floyd's greatest and most ambitious creations. During one section, a dark moody atmosphere is created perfectly with Gilmour strumming a lonesome acoustic as dogs can be heard in the distance, barking and howling in the moonlight. Suddenly, a snap of Mason's snare ignites Gilmour into a torturously aching solo coaxed from his Custom Telecaster. It is truly a moment that could only be created by Pink Floyd. And that is just one highlight of many. Check out the middle section of Pigs (Three Different Ones) where real pig noises, embellished with a vocoder, are joined with Dave mimicking pig grunts and squeals on his guitar courtesy of a talkbox. This is nothing, however, compared to his spectacularly climactic guitar solo at the song's end. Unison bends climb the fretboard; notes stagger and sputter; bends scream and cry as Dave punishes his guitar, climaxing with a series of rapid-fire triplets during the fadeout. I could go on, but I've yammered on enough!
This is a brilliant, BRILLIANT album. I suppose it is often overlooked due in large part to the non-radio-friendly structure of the songs. Most of the general public has never heard a single note, and this is a shame. Animals remains the most underrated of all of Pink Floyd's work. It stands as one of the four primary albums from their golden era and is an absolutely essential piece of music history.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Gilmour's Magnum Opus,
While it may be true that Roger Waters' songwriting ability truly shone in The Wall, David Gilmour's guitar playing on this album is absolutely staggering. This CD truly shows off the highly underrated ability of Gilmour, as well as the drumming skills of Nick Mason and the keyboarding ability of Rick Wright. It is a heavily guitar-dependent album, so even those who find Floyd too spacy (crazy though you are) will enjoy this. It is their greatest album, but is often forgotten in the name of The Wall and Dark Side. If you buy this, you won't regret it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An album based on humanity itself...wow.,
A Kid's Review
About as thick as a 28 year-old fruitcake,"Animals" will remain as one of the meatiest albums of all time,and one of the most beautiful pieces of audio literature ever written and recorded.
When I first listened to this album...it really was a bit much for me at the time. Honestly,the lyrics are completely honest and brutal.
Until I listened to "Animals",I never thought a seventeen minute-long song could work.
And until I listened to it in it's entirety I never thought an album comprised of such songs could work.
Many of you all know what "dogs","pigs",and "sheep" all mean after reading all these other reviews.
I'm probably not adding anything new to it...just adding another 5-star review to the bin.
"Pigs On The Wing Pt. 1" is a beautiful,albeit simple,acoustic song that gets you relaxed and ready for what you are about to hear.
"Dogs",a seventeen-minute-long epic of guitar solo after guitar solo,biting,painful word after biting,painful word.
Speaking of back-biting,evil individuals after cash,strength,and ultimately,power.
But you've heard nothing yet..."Pigs (Three Different Ones)" is the best song on the album in my humble opinion.
The song starts out with oinks,synths,organs,and finally a protest-esque song about over-bloated and greedy,digusting individuals. After the main verse a hard blues jam,with the accompaniment some of the most painful words I've ever heard said in an album before. "Your hot stuff with a hat pin","Ha ha-charade you are",and my personal favorite "You're nearly a good laugh-almost a joker.With your head down in the pig bin-saying...keep on diggin'".At 4:15 Dave Gilmour hits some tasty licks in a sweet jam.All in all,"Pigs (Three Different Ones)" hits hard on those who are pigs,and, for the rest of
us,delivers tasty licks making it all taste so sweet.
"Sheep" is the most disturbing song on the album.
At the beginning you hear the unsettling sounds of bleating and baaing sheep. Afterwords,a jazz keyboard brings you into a hard guitar tone,following into a riff and then,urgent lyrics and vocals with a phaser effect. My favorite vocals on all of "Animals" followed by one heck of a riff. However,the overall unsettledness of the songs,followed by a butchered Lord's Prayer makes this my least favorite of the three "main songs" on the album. After alot the messy stuff in the middle of the song is over however, the tastiest and quickest of the riffs comes in saying:"Have you heard the news? The dogs are dead."
That's cool I guess,but what comes next?
"Pigs On The Wing Pt 2" is the final track on the album and pretty much a carbon copy of "Pigs On The Wing Pt. 1" only with different lyrics.
Anyway,that pretty much wraps it up.
"Animals" by Pink Floyd is recommend to everyone,especially to those who can listen to a few words of harsh criticism.
I give it a five,out of five.
I hope you enjoyed my review,and I hope it was helpful to you.Don't forget to put your opinions of my review in the "was this review helpful to you" place.
P.S. I was listening to this album pretty much thewhole time while I was writing with review.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Orwell-inspired LP from 1977.,
Still one of the most fascinating of Pink Floyd's albums, and the one that tends to get overlooked in favour of the more acclaimed likes of Dark Side, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. It's also one of the more difficult albums of their later career, building around three songs that each clock in at over ten-minutes and two short bookends that both introduce and bring to a close the overall themes and motifs behind the album. As most people are aware (even those who haven't heard the album, but are familiar with it's history) Animals takes it's lyrical and ideological cue from Orwell and, in particular, his classic Animal Farm. The three main songs - Pigs, Dogs and Sheep - use the same animal analogies to dissect the bloated face of Great Britain circa '77, with direct references to the self-righteous upper classes (Pigs), the totalitarian government (Dogs) and the mindless, classless workers (Sheep). The lyrics by Roger Waters point the finger at each group and offer some of the coldest and most heartless exchanges ever committed to tape.
The album sounds like a complete musical U-turn away from the territory of Wish You Were Hear, with the ambient synth and acoustic guitars of that album being replaced by cold, dissonant keyboards and angular, electric guitar madness. It manages to predate their hugely successful double album The Wall in terms of sheer sound and vastness, but replaces the navel-gazing and self-pity of songs like Comfortably Numb and Nobody Home with something much darker, abrasive and discontented. Like Wish You Were Here, the short number of songs is really a hint that the whole album should be viewed as a complete piece of work, with the songs moving in and out of each other and also, in and out of various mid-song movements. It's not out of the ordinary here for a song to begin with an eerie keyboard refrain backed by an acoustic guitar, only to shift into something heavier, with buzz-saw guitars, heavy bass-lines and furious percussion. As a result, it certainly shows Pink Floyd at their tightest musically, as they offer a selection of different speeds, tempos and atmospheres. It ends up sounding like a punk album before most punk acts had even jumped on the bandwagon, but at the same time, ends up as possibly the band's most 'progressive' album, with the long songs, over-bearing concepts and dense production ultimately having more in common with Genesis than Sham 69.
The lulled opening Pigs On The Wing 1, with its gentle folk guitar and distant organ comes across like a (musical) wolf in sheep's clothing (sorry!!), as the gentle melody and lyrical allusions to love and happiness essentially giving way to the regret, disappointment and desperation that will flourish throughout the proceeding 40-plus minutes. So, if the iconography of the artwork doesn't clue you in (the overcast sky, the enormous power station, the lone pig floating through the ether, the dark red bricks, broken windows and barbed wire of the near-by security offices suggesting anarchy, unease and rampant totalitarianism) then the opening line of Dogs certainly will; "you gott'a be crazy, you gott'a have a real need... you've gott'a sleep on your toes, when you're on your feet, you got to be able, to pick out the easy meat". The sound of Dogs gets more and more intense as it moves ever forward, with Dave Gilmour laying down some extraordinarily dexterous lead work and at least three standout solos throughout the monumental 17-plus minute running time.
The rest of the band are on top form too, with Nick Mason offering some powerhouse percussion, from seemingly improvised moments in those lengthy instrumental breaks, which brings to mind jazz and classical influences as opposed to straight-rock, and then there's the extraordinary organ/keyboard work from Rick Wright, who creates much of the musical textures and underlining sense of foreboding, particularly the album's centrepiece Sheep, in which he really deserved a co-song writing credit for the sheer enormity of his musical contribution. Waters offers a few decent bass-lines, as well as supposedly playing acoustic guitar on the first and final track, but it's his skill as a lyricist that really impresses here. The range of ideas conveyed throughout is spellbinding, as Waters offers moments of soul-searching emotion, spiteful caricature (the description of Mary Whitehouse on Pigs springs to mind) and snarling satire.
With the three songs that create the core of Animals, Waters ably establishes himself as one of the greatest rock lyricists/British poets of the last fifty years, easily showing fellow rock curmudgeons like Elvis Costello, Mark E. Smith, Luke Haines et al a thing or two when it comes to venting their musical spleen (the description of the central character in dogs is particularly cold, especially the central verse; "and in the end you'll pack up, and fly down south, hide your head in the sand, just another sad old man, all alone, dying of cancer"). The climax of Dogs is one of the most hate filled diatribe ever presented on record, as Waters and Co. cut through the heart of the oppressors and their lives of contradiction ("who was born in house of pain... who was fitted with collar and chain... who was ground down in the end... who was found dead on the phone... dragged down by the stone" etc). The bile continues throughout the rest of the album, with Pigs using it's three verses to cut up the moral majority ("bus stop rat-bag... ha-ha, charade you are... you f*cked up old hag... ha-ha charade you are"), whilst Wright offers a surprisingly funky keyboard grove and few piano fills that bring to mind Abba's Dancing Queen (!!), whilst Gilmour, again, offers some solid guitar work and a storming, over-the-top epic of a guitar solo to bring us to a close.
I've hardly mentioned Sheep, though suffice to say it continues the bleak and unapologetic sound, this time focusing on the underclass, as it's lyrical target. It's easily as essential as both Dogs and Pigs, and leads us nicely into the sweet reprise of Pigs on the Wing 2, with Waters bringing this cold and oppressive album to a close with a sense of hope and that sweet closing line... "only a fool knows, a dog needs a home, a shelter, from pigs on the wing".
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