Pink Floyd - Animals
(3 reader votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

by RockHard

Image



Vital Statistics:

Record Company: Columbia Records
Release Date: January 23, 1977
Producer: Pink Floyd
Web Site: http://www.pinkfloyd.co.uk/





Musicians:

Roger Waters ~ Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
David Gilmour ~ Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Talk Box, Synthesizer (shared lead vocals on Dogs)
Richard Wright ~ Hammond Organ, Piano, ARP Synthezer, Backing Vocals
Nick Mason ~ Drums, Percussion



The Rundown:

1.) Pigs On The Wing (Part 1) [1:24] (Waters): The album opens with a little melancholy acoustic piece:

"If you didn't care... what happened to me...
And I didn't care... for you...
We would zig-zag our way... through the boredom and pain...
Occasionally... glancing up through the rain...
Wondering... which of the buggers to blame...
And watching... for pigs on the wing."


The lyrics highlight the importance of companionship to help stave off the drudgery and isolation of everyday life. Although on the surface, the lyrics have a rather pessimistic tone, the song still provides a glimmer of hope that a smiling face will be waiting at home after the work day is done. Simple. Thought-provoking. Beautiful. Rating: 10/10


2.) Dogs [17:06] (Waters/Gilmour): Here we have the first of our nasty little stereotypical bad guys: the Dogs. We all know them; those cut-throat, back-stabbing, get-ahead-at-all-costs businessmen. The lyrics begin with a sauntering, bragging tale of a man who is very good at getting what he wants, at all costs:

"You have to be 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."


Gradually, though, the lyrics change in tone as the protagonist grows older:

"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... and dying of cancer."


Soon after, Waters begins to circle like a predator, pointing out the hopelessness of this sort of aggression:

"And it's too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around...
So have a good drown...
As you go down... All alone...
Dragged down by the stone."


Finally, Waters' finishes off with a scathing attack, leaving no doubt about his feelings on the matter, pointing out that every predator is in turn used by someone higher in the food chain. The music is the perfect complement to the lyrical content. It is fittingly dramatic throughout, flowing with the aggression of the early verses, punctuated by soaring instrumental melodies to set off the different lyrical sections. A masterwork both musically and lyrically.
Rating: 15/10


3.) Pigs (Three Different Ones) [11:28] (Waters): This is a rather scathing commentary on the Pigs of modern society. Every word is an accusation... as the music howls and wails away in protest of the hypocrisy and greed of modern day life.

Piggy number one initially appears to be a generic "big businessman"... but parallels have often been drawn to James Callaghan, then Prime Minister of England (especially in the context of the other two verses):

"Big man, pig man...
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
You well-heeled big wheel...
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
And when you're hand is on your heart...
You're nearly a good laugh...
Almost a joker...
With your head down in the pig bin...
Saying, 'Keep on digging.'
Pig stain on your fat chin...
What do you hope to find...
Down in the pig mine?
You're nearly a laugh...
You're nearly a laugh...
But you're really a cry."


Piggy number two can be read as an ode to all the bitter back-stabbers and opportunists out there. From the passive-aggressive co-worker... to the mean neighbor... to the average jerk on the street... this lyric suits them all to a tee. However, those most familiar with Waters and Floyd generally insist that this section was actually intended to be an attack on Margaret Thatcher... who was a major proponent of both gun control... and large, funny hat pins :P :

"Bus stop rat bag...
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
You fucked-up old hag...
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass...
You're nearly a good laugh...
Almost worth a quick grin...
You like the feel of steel...
You're hot stuff with a hat pin...
And good fun with a hand gun...
You're nearly a laugh...
You're nearly a laugh...
But you're really a cry."


Last, but certainly not least, Piggy number three is a direct reference to leader of Britian's version of the PMRC, Mary Whitehouse. Ironically, old Tipper used to rail on about Pink Floyd because of their "anti-American" sentiments, despite the fact that the lyric was obviously intended for Mrs. Whitehouse... even mentioning her by name. I guess Tipper is just another textbook example of someone who's more judgmental than smart. :wink: :

"Hey you... Whitehouse!
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
You house-proud town mouse...
Ha Ha! Charade you are...
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street...
You're nearly a real treat...
All tight lips and cold feet...
And do you feel abused?

You've got to stem the evil tide...
And keep it all on the inside...
Mary, you're nearly a treat...
Mary, you're nearly a treat...
But you're really a cry."


From the sometimes-sparse arrangements and echo-laden guitar fills to the voice box pig sounds and guitar solo, this tune is an absolute masterpiece. The construction of this song is a testament to the songwriting prowess of Roger Waters and the musical brilliance of all four members of the band. I can't think of a better example of the perfection that is Pink Floyd. 8) Rating: 15/10


4.) Sheep [10:21] (Waters): We all know that for every Dog or Pig out there, there are hundreds of professional victims out there, who seem to rise and go to work each day simply to be used and abused by the predators of society. These are their stories. :lol:

A smooth, almost jazzy organ intro gives way to a frenzy of synths and guitar fills. The rhythm section sets a frantic peace, which perfectly complements the modd as the Dogs stalk their prey:

"Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away...
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air...
You better watch out...
There may be dogs about..."


The lyrics recount the last minutes of the unsuspecting sheep as they begin to fall victim to the evil dogs of the world:

"What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes..."


The interlude that contains Waters' updated version of Psalm 23 (see "The Last Word") is a pivotal turning point in the song, after which the hunted become the hunters... and the sheep finally have their day of vengeance:

"Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream...
Yeeaaaaaahhhhhh! Hahahaha!
Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream..."


In the end, the victory is short-lived, though. Ultimately, the sheep go back to what they do best... being sheep:

"Have you heard the news?
The dogs are dead!
You better stay home... and do what you're told...
Get out of the road... if you want to grow old."


Once again, the music is the perfect compliment to the lyrical content of the song, capturing the fear of the masses as they fall victim to the hunter, only to find themselves in a position to destroy their attackers (even if only for a moment). The song makes a powerful statement that speaks more truth than many would like to hear: The sheep often prefer their blissful ignorance for as long as they can... and then turn on their 'oppressors' the minute the opportunity arises. In some ways, that makes them the most dangerous of all. Rating: A mere 12/10 :wink:


5.) Pigs On The Wing (Part 2) [1:27] (Waters): The same musical theme that opened the album is used to draw it to a close, although with a somewhat more optimistic tone:

"You know that I care what happens to you...
And I know that you care for me too...
So I don't feel alone, or the weight of the stone...
Now that I've found somewhere safe to bury my bone...
And any fool knows a dog needs a home...
A shelter... from pigs on the wing."


The song was written with the simple prose of an everyday man trying to make it through his life, drawing on the strength of love to help derive a sense of purpose in his life. It stands as a wistful reminder that even in the rat race, the love of another can provide the strength to conquer all the Dogs, Pigs and Sheep in the world.

The two-part song was reportedly written as a tribute to Roger's then-wife, Caroline. Rating: 10/10



Trivial Tidbits:

~ The two parts of Pigs On The Wing were consolidated into a single song for the 8-track version of the album, with Snowy White (of Thin Lizzy fame) playing a bridging guitar solo between the two sections. This version of the song was released on White's 2006 album, "Goldtop: Groups & Sessions." No, I don't own it. :P

~ The song Dogs was also split between two programs on the 8-track version of the album, and also appeared in two parts (cut after the first verse) on some of the cassette versions to conserve tape.

~ During the "In The Flesh" tour (the tour for this album), Snowy would play bass on Sheep, while Waters and Gilmour both played guitar parts.

~ During the "Dark Side Of The Moon" tour, early versions of Dogs and Sheep were played regularly, and can be heard on many of the bootlegs from this time period. At the time, Dogs was called You Gotta Be Crazy and Sheep was known as Raving And Drooling. The music is mostly similar, but lyrically, they were both quite different from the versions ultimately recorded for "Animals." As a side-note, an early version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond was often played on the "Dark Side..." tour as well.

~ You Gotta Be Crazy and Raving And Drooling were originally supposed to appear on "Wish You Were Here," but the band decided to hold the songs to keep the theme of that album more consistent.

~ During the tour for this album, Waters repeatedly voiced frustration with his increased alienation from the crowds, sometimes referring to it as a "wall" between them. At a show in Montreal, his anger boiled over and he spit at a fan during a performance of Dogs. Here is a video of that performance:



~ The barking noises in Dogs and the voice-over of Psalm 23 in Sheep were both created using a vocoder (which is a type of vocal synthesizer). The pig noises heard in Pigs (Three Different Ones) were created using the same talk box used on the main solo.

~ The now-famous inflatable pig used on the cover of "Animals" and on subsequent tours was originally designed by Waters in 1976 for use in the album cover photo shoot. It was affectionately dubbed "Algie" and measured approximately 40 feet long when fully inflated. For the photo cover shoot, it was flown over the Battersea Power Station in London on three consecutive days.

On the first day, a marksman was hired to shoot down the pig in the event it broke free of its moorings, but despite high winds, it remained firmly in place (although a satisfactory shot was not obtained on that day). Photographer Storm Thorgerson deemed the precaution unnecessary after that, so the marksman was not rehired for the second day's shooting. Ironically, the pig did in fact break free in a gust of wind on that day, and since nobody was present to shoot it down, a police helicopter was quickly dispatched to track it. It quickly passed an altitude of 5000 feet, so the helicopter eventually had to break off up its pursuit of the fleeing beast. Heathrow Airport had to suspend flights while Algie quickly gained altitude and crossed through the major flight paths. Eventually radar contact was lost as the pig crossed 18,000 feet heading east over the English Channel. It was found later that day on a rural farm near Chatham in Kent with minor damage, and was quickly repaired for the third day of shooting.

Third day was calm and sunny, so several good pictures of the pig were quickly obtained without further incident. However, the cloudless background was considered too boring, so the pig was matted into a picture of the factory and skyline taken on the first day to create the more somber image that was used for the album cover.

~ Later incarnations of the pig (in various sizes) have since become a trademark of the band's stage show. There have been several incidents where the pig has either broken free or fallen over the years, adding to the legend of Algie and his descendants.



The Last Word:

 

Sheep wrote:
"The Lord is my shepherd...
I shall not want...
He makes me down to lie...
Through pastures green...
He leadeth me the silent waters by...
With bright knives he releaseth my soul...
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places...
He converteth me into lamb cutlets...
For lo, he hath great power... and great hunger...
When cometh the day we lowly ones...
Through quiet reflection... and great dedication...
Master the art of karate...
Lo, we shall rise up...
And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water."


~ Psalm 23 (Roger Waters style 8))


Since I'm sure we are all fairly well-acquainted with the incredible talent of the mighty Pink Floyd, the above verse is my somewhat ambitious attempt at trying something a little bit different. Consider this my disclaimer: If you've gotten this far, you've probably realized that this is not my standard review. It is more an attempt to analyze (and hopefully pay tribute to) the lyrical brilliance of Roger Waters and the unparalleled musicianship of the band as a whole.

Waters' cynical viewpoint really comes to the forefront here... and his struggles with Gilmour for creative control of the band reached their climax during these sessions. Gilmour has said that Dogs was 90% penned by him... and at over 17 minutes in length, represents nearly half of the album... so he did not feel short-changed in the process, despite the obvious disparity in the credits. At the same time, Waters' unmistakable fingerprints can be heard in nearly every other part of this album, from the melacholy beauty of Pigs On The Wing to the scathing attacks heard on Pigs (Three Different Ones) and Sheep.

Suffice to say, I firmly believe that this album might very well be the best of Floyd's legendary catalog overall. I'm sure that many will argue with me on this count, particularly with other classics like "Meddle," "Dark Side Of The Moon," "Wish You Were Here" and "The Wall" in play. However, I really think that this album represents the creative peak of the band as a whole, with the growing tensions within the band serving to heighten the edginess of the material and bringing out the best performances possible from each member. As always, all I can hope to do is give you my opinion... and let you give it another listen and decide for yourself.

Ultimately, I'm happy if you just dust off this oft-overlooked gem and give it another spin. :B

If you don't... "You're nearly a laugh, but you're really a cry." :wink:



The Bottom Line (AKA - The Six-Pack Scale): :B :B :B :B :B :B


:BB Steve
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