(2/9/14 UPDATE TO THIS STORY! NEWLY SURFACED DEMOS HAVE MADE THEIR WAY TO COLLECTORS! SEE THE YOUTUBE LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!)
Today marks the 36th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s perhaps most overlooked album, Animals. Why 36th? Because this time last year EMI was too busy prepping The Wall Immersion Box Set to properly celebrate the 35th anniversary. History has not been kind to this period of Floyd’s existance. In fact almost every documentary out there no matter how great tends to only glance over this album and instead focus on what happened at the concert tour that same year, dubbed pretty much ironically, Pink Floyd In The Flesh. Yes, far before the phrase would become a song title on The Wall two years later. The thing most people will take away from the documentaries is that the tours moved Floyd into football stadiums, all but killing the personal experience of the show. Having that many people meant having that many passive fans who maybe only knew of “Money” or The Dark Side of The Moon. The crowd’s drunken and rude behavior drove Roger Waters particularly too far, and at the final show of the tour in Montreal, he snidely lured a screaming fan to the stage, spat in his face, and then mocked him like livestock during “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”. Roger then said to himself he wouldn’t perform again unless it was behind a wall. Eureka, the first few bricks of The Wall started to take shape in Roger’s head.
The tour setlist consisted of the entire Animals album in the first set, but out of order for maximum stage effect I supposed, then the entire Wish You Were Here album in the second set. This was followed by an encore of “Money” and “Us and Them”, played entirely out of context to screaming fans, many who were impatient throughout the first two hours. I’m sure many of these same people brag today that they were there, but at the time had no idea what they were witnessing.
Animals is the album wedged between 1975’s Wish You Were Here and 1979’s The Wall. Not much is known about the state of the band in the studio during that time. We do know that two out of the three main tracks of the album were actually conceived around the time of Dark Side of the Moon. “Dogs” was originally titled “You Gotta Be Crazy”. It had twice as many lyrics, mostly in the same vein. “Sheep” was originally titled “Raving and Drooling”. Aside from many embellishments, the meat of these songs were the same. They were previewed to audiences during the 1974 legs of the Dark Side of the Moon Tour. David Gilmour usually ran out of breath trying to blurt out all the words in “YGBC”. “Raving and Drooling” had many dead spots. When the sessions started for the next album, these were considered as contenders along with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. However, the consensus was that the tracks were not strong enough. The following year, a rethought Wish You Were Here was released and went on to be the classic that it is. However, aside from an appearance at the Knebworth Festival in 1975, the band chose not to tour.
Flash forward to January 1977. Music had changed, especially in the UK. Punk and more immediate rock music were threatening to extinguish any type of progressive rock. Despite this, Pink Floyd launched an album with only 5 tracks, titled “Dogs”, “Sheep”, “Pigs (3 Different Ones)” and a two part intro and outro called “Pigs On The Wing”. There were no songs that could be singles. Promotion was made basically on the band’s name and the mystique they now carried. Rather than make TV appearances, the band, along with album sleeve designer Storm Thorgurson, decided to fly an inflatable pig above Battersea Power Station to snap pics for the sleeve. The “when pigs fly” motif became so iconic that the band would later use it in other places of their concerts aside from the actual song “Pigs”.
So why these three animals? It would seem Roger Waters would find an idea to gel his songs together in the George Orwell book Animal Farm. If you haven’t read it, the book uses heavy symbolism to explain the heirarchy of power roles during the Russian Revolution through the use of a children’s tale. The story takes place on a farm, and the main groups of characters are dogs, pigs and sheep. The pigs become the top of the hierarchy, being wealth and power-hungry but pretending the whole time to be for the good of the people. While the pigs at first say they are for the good of the other animals, they adopt a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude and become greedy. Hence “Pigs (3 Different Ones)” lists politicians and people in high power, as the label fits perfectly. The dogs in the story follow the pigs’ orders and do their bidding with the hopes of being as powerful as the pigs, barking orders at the sheep in hopes of their reward – as Roger writes, “a pat on the back”. “Dogs”, the song, frames a portrait of people doing what they are told because they are supposed to, because that is how you get ahead, and because these are things you simply must do. Or so you hope. But always living in fear of betrayal. The sheep are the blind followers. They do as they are told unquestioningly, believing that the others must know what is good for them. “Sheep”, the song, warns of the dangers of following the other two types of “animals” blindly. I’m not a history expert, and I read the book in 1994 in high school, so while I didn’t understand all aspects of the book itself, I definitely could see Roger Waters’ ability to latch on to the idea of categorizing people into one of these three types of animals.
The album starts with a gentle guitar strumming of “Pigs on The Wing (Part One)”, and Roger Waters pondering “If you didn’t care, what happened to me… and I didn’t care… for you” and the gentle heartfelt ballad’s last strum gives way to a murkier key.
“Dogs” is about greed and the need to be validated. It is also about how to succeed and get ahead. “You’ve gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder, so when they turn their backs on you you’ll get your change to put the knife in”. While band is said to have had tensions at this time, you really hear all members’ involvement here. Some of David Gilmour’s best melodic lines are in this track. While the song is over seventeen minutes, it is like a mini-suite made up of smaller parts. One of the most notable is the spacey mid-section, where not only does Rick Wright’s keyboard playing shine, but the use of three dimensional sound effects is astounding. If you drift off into a dreamlike state while listening, you will definitely have some sort of creepy horrific movie scene happening in your head.
“Pigs (3 Different ones)” was the newest track on the album. I feel it is Roger at one of his most venomous and bile-filled moments. The lyrics are as anti-establishment as any punk rock song at the time. The three pigs are an extremely wealthy greedy man, a very judgmental religious zealot, and Mary Whitehouse, a British politician of the time who set out on a censorship binge. I’m sure many American fans mistook “Hey you Whitehouse! Ha ha! Charade you are!” to mean something entirely different as the late seventies were a turbulent time. This is notably one of the few times you will ever hear cowbell in a Pink Floyd song. It also has a talkbox solo by David Gilmour that should have made Peter Frampton go home and cry. If the band was fraut with frustration, they definitely expunged a lot of it into the mood of this song. Some of Gilmour’s harshest licks are found here, and some of Nick Mason’s toughest drumming as well. But the ten minute length kept this from being anywhere near a single.
“Sheep” is quite literally a black sheep when played next to softer Floyd classics. It is by far one of the loudest and most aggressive tracks in their canon. Roger turned “Raving and drooling I fell on his neck with a scream” into “Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream”, referencing the sheep getting even with the dogs. Roger’s version of the story ends with the sheep rising up and destroying the dogs. Not what Orwell had in mind. Of note here is the way Gilmour ferociously attacks his guitar on the rhythm parts, and Rick Wright’s creepy haunting synth solo. Hidden under the layers of gloom is a robotized version of the sheep reinterpreting The Lord’s Prayer. Later some religious wingnuts would claim the band to be an instrument of Satan because of this “subliminal message”, having completely misunderstood the intent, and also what subliminal means – as the lyrics are there plain as day on the LP sleeve. After the victory, and the sounds of the barnyard fade, Roger comes back to reassure us “You know that I care… for you” and the song ends on a gentle note again.
It is sad to me that this album never got the respect it deserved. The biggest part of this probably has to do with there being no radio-ready songs on it. When EMI celebrated Floyd’s catalog a year ago with Immersion Edition box sets of three of their biggest albums from their golden period, this album was left in the dust. So let’s look at what would be required to make your own Immersion set of Animals…
Animals: the Immersion Edition
-1 copy of the 2011 remaster of “Animals”
-1 rarities collection with “Pigs On the Wings (Part 1 & 2), and a CD-R to tack this onto the end of Animals as a bonus track. This was a special “combined” version of the track, made specifically for the 8-track cartridge with the two parts bridged together with a solo by live backing guitarist Snowy White. I suggest taking this from the Tree Full of Secrets set.
-1 2cd live show from this period. there are no professionally recorded shows, but I recommend “Madison Square Garden 7/2/77”.
-1 dvd – 8mm by Harvested Records. The band sadly did not professionally film any shows. This is all known 8mm fan footage, pieced together lovingly on one dvd.
-1 book – “Inside Out” by Nick Mason – lots of great pictures and personal writings about the period.
-Then of course a cheap box set to plaster art over, a printer, and plenty of pig pics, along with pig marbles, coasters and a scarf. Because you have to have a scarf. You can probably still do all of this for cheaper than $130. But I digress. The Tree Full of Secrets collection and 8mm can be had at YEESHKUL! for free. Sadly, no outtake material is known to be in existence from this album, even in unofficial form.
Here are some video goodies relating to the album:
“Pigs On The Wing (Parts One and Two)” – Live 1977
Original 1977 TV Commercial for Animals:
“Dogs” (First half – live from “8mm” – footage + pictures):
Footage of the pig in flight over Battersea Power Station set to “Sheep”:
Over the past few weeks some of the original demos have finally surfaced amongst collectors and have been shared. While I will review this in an upcoming article regarding several new sets of outtakes, here are the three main songs from Animals in demo form!
“Raving and Drooling” (“Sheep” Demo):
“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” (Demo):