Retrospective: Pink Floyd’s “Animals”

Happy Wednesday, kids. If you read yesterday’s Just the Tip post once I finally got it out, (this was at 9:30 PM, so if you didn’t, you’re forgiven) you’ll have noticed that on this week’s podcast, we’re going to be talking about the new, presumably final Pink Floyd album, The Endless River. Or, more accurately, it’ll most likely be our resident Floyd-head Corey talking about it, and me nodding along silently and pretending to have listened.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty big Floyd fan, if we keep to the true definition of Pink Floyd–that is to say, “a band that I care about only when it includes Roger Waters.” (It’s funny; Waters can be a bit of a dick, yet I also can’t acknowledge the band without him in it, so maybe it’s justified.) Point being: absent not only Waters but also late keyboardist and co-founder Richard Wright, I’m not really sure I care enough about The Endless River to register it in my consciousness, hence my allowing Corey to take the reins on it this week.

However, the album’s release has gotten the band back into my consciousness of late, and thus, I’m going to use this segment to take a look back to a time when I did care about Pink Floyd. For this week’s Retrospective, let’s revisit my personal favorite Pink Floyd album, 1977’s Animals.

floyd

If I had to guess, I’d venture that…maybe 80 percent of music fans can only name two, or at most three Pink Floyd albums–Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were Here, and The Wall–so to that lot, my selection of Animals might seem a bit of a shock. But I can’t help it–it’s been my favorite Floyd album since the first time I heard it. A concept album that critiques different levels of social class through animal allegory, (yes, it’s loosely inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm) it’s five songs and just over 40 minutes of absolute prog legend. (Okay, really three songs and just under 40 minutes; for measurement purposes, you can more or less discount the 90-second “Pigs on the Wing” bookends.)

But still, that leaves us with “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep,” none of which anyone in their right mind can complain about. We start with the mostly-David-Gilmour-penned “Dogs,” the true beast of the bunch. With more than 17 minutes to play with, the song serves up just about everything you can imagine–from a jazzy intro passage, to a harmonized Gilmour guitar solo, to several minutes of trippy synth overdrive–only to tie it up nicely in the final act.

In comparison, “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep” are a bit more straightforward (inasmuch as two 11- and 10-minute prog songs can really be “straightforward” at all) but pack no less of a punch. There’s a hint of swagger that the former maintains even throughout its midway-point feel change–I don’t know if you can call it “bluesy” per se, but there’s definitely a different kind of groove to it. “Sheep,” on the other hand, is…dare I say, kind of heavy? It’s easily the album’s most rocking song, and Wright makes his organ shriek with more force than anywhere else on this thing. Gilmour’s delayed, almost Edge-like upper-neck guitar work around 8 minutes in (think the intro to “Run Like Hell”) ultimately makes it for me. And okay, even though I discounted it for length’s sake above, the closing “Pigs on the Wing” reprise is just perfect–an excellent tie-back to the introduction, and a final glimmer of light in the sea of angry, proggy discord that makes up the rest of Animals.

At this point, I can’t really heap any praise on the album that hasn’t already been heaped in the 37 years since the album’s release. All I can say is: listen to Animals, and listen to it now:

That’ll do it for this week’s Retrospective. Check back later on for Quickies!

-Dan

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

One thought on “Retrospective: Pink Floyd’s “Animals”

  1. westiedad November 13, 2014 / 4:28 am

    Great album – enjoyed seeing Roger do Sheep on his Dark Side Of The Moon tour back in 2007.

    And for those of a certain age, this was another classic Floyd Animals moment:

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