Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Animals

Animals
Studio recording March-December 1976 
* Released 23 January 1977 * 
Re-released in the Shine On box set, 1992

Production
Produced by Pink Floyd
Engineered by Brian Humphries
Recorded at Britannia Row Studios, London
Sleeve design by Roger Waters
Organized by Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell
Graphics by Nick Mason
Photography: Aubrey Powell, Peter Christopherson, Howard Bartrop, Nic Tucker, Bob Ellis, Bob Brimson and Colin Jones
Inflatable pig designed by ERG Amsterdam


Releases
UK: Harvest SHVL 815 (Stereo mix 41.50) Reached #2 in the UK
US: Columbia JC 34474 Reached #3 in the US
Reached #1 in Holland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, West Germany and Portugal



OVERVIEW

Roger Waters: "[I was trying] to push the band into more specific areas of subject matter, always trying to be more direct. Visually, I was trying to get away from the blobs . . . [so] there isn't much left for you to interpret." [Schaffner 216]

Rick Wright: "That was the first one I didn't write anything for. And it was the first album, for me, where the group was losing its unity as well. That's when it was beginning where Roger wanted to do everything. There are certain bits of music that I quite like, but it's not my favourite album of the Floyd." [Schaffner 213]


Roger Waters: "I think we've been pretty close to breaking up for years. I'm glad we didn't because I like the album and look forward to going out and playing it." [Miles]

Nick Mason: "This one is really my favorite. I've never been able to listen to any of our previous albums once we've finished them because we've spent so much time with them that there's no pleasure in it. But, with the possible exception of Saucer, this is the only one I like playing." [Dallas 116]

Roger Waters: "[Animals is] a bit thrown together. There aren't enough songs on it, and ones that are there are rather too long. Sheep was a song called Raving and Drooling which was intended to be on Wish You Were Here but I didn't think it was right. It was therefore left over. Pigs was written a couple of years earlier. I'm not sure about Dogs; it was Dave's chord sequence left over from Wish You Were Here, I think. It wasn't until we were recording those three pieces it occurred to me that they could cobbled together under the title 'Animals' and they were descriptive, anthropomorphic ideas. I think one of the songs stands up: Sheep. It was my sense of what was to come down in England, and it did last summer with the riots in England, in Brixton and Toxteth . . ."
Interviewer: "Where did that sense come from?"
Roger: "Probably that it had happened before in Notting Hill in the early sixties. And it will happen again. It will always happen. There are too many of us in the world and we treat each other badly. We get obsessed with things and there aren't enough of things, products, to go round. If we're persuaded it's important to have them, that we're nothing without them, and there aren't enough of them to go round, the people without them are going to get angry. Content and discontent follow very closely the rise and fall on the graph of world recession and expansion. I think the thing about Animals was that it didn't gel cohesively either musically or conceptually, but perhaps that was good. Three fairly angry songs about the posturing and defensive ploys set between two verses of a love song to Carolyne, Pigs on the Wing. The first verse poses the question: 'Where would I be without you?' and the second verse says 'In the face of all this other shit — confusion, side-tracks, difficulties — you care, I know you care about me and that makes it possible to survive.' That is the first time that sentiment appears, the sense of having somebody, being with somebody." [Dallas 117]

Sections of Karl Dallas' review is reprinted here mainly because Roger Waters, in a letter to Dallas, claimed the reviewer had really 'copped' what the album was all about. Therefore, his words will stand instead of the woefully scarce quotes from the band members themselves about this album.

Karl Dallas: "In a sense, the new album forms the third part of a trilogy, in which the theme of alienation (Dark Side) and loneliness (Wish) is wrapped up by an intense and savage humanism, which is paradoxically all the more powerful by being personified in a series of animal caricatures. While the Bible separates people into sheep and goats, this Floyd work divides them three ways: dogs, pigs, and sheep. The three sections are sandwiched between the first and second verses of an acoustic song, Pigs on the Wing, sung by Waters in a neo-Sixties singer-songwriter style that is so alien to everything one associates with the Floyd in that it comes like a douche of cold water to clear the mind for what follows. In itself, it is not really a great song by any standards, but in context it serves a definite purpose, as a sort of moral framework to the often horrific lyrics in between.

The rest of side one is devoted to Dogs, a horrendous depiction of the modern world as 'nature red in tooth and claw,' the dogs of the acquisitive society rending each other, retiring into loneliness and dying of cancer or dragged down to death by the weight you used to need to throw around. There is a moment about two-thirds of the way through the song when Waters' singing of the phrase dragged down by the stone is put on to a tape loop and repeated almost ad nauseum, while the human overtones of the voice are gradually filtered out, till at the end it becomes little more than a high-pitched howl, like a cry heard through deep water. Meanwhile, the band takes the recurring phrase as the ground rhythm for a long instrumental, and the sound of barking dogs is processed through a sort of effects box called a Vocoder, creating semi-musical chords out of them, while still retaining their doggy character. A chilling moment, which managed to reach me the first time I heard it, during the fuggy chat of the Battersea Park play-through.

Pigs (Three Different Ones) opens side two with very unflattering portraits of modern figures, each of them laughed to scorn, including a house-proud town mouse called Whitehouse, trying to keep our feelings off the street, which sketches in with a few deft moves, a picture of the censorious Mary as frustrated married spinster, all tight lips and cold feet. There is a line of heavy breathing on her verse, which I suspect is a censored version of something even less flattering, since it is followed by a shout of 'you!' Even in these savage attacks, however, there is an element of pity, for each of the three victims of Floyd's ire is described as really a cry, rather than the laugh the lyric pretends at first to have at their expense.

Sheep is almost a mini 'Animal Farm,' a picture of the contented mass, grazing peacefully on their way to the slaughterhouse. Again, there is a chilling moment when a grim parody of the 23rd Psalm is intoned through the Vocoder. This doesn't make the horror any easier to take, but it does integrate the intrusion musically, though possibly a little less processing or more up front mixing might have brought this section out more strongly.

The sheep revolt, killing the dogs, but the words march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream suggest that perhaps this is the only part of the album not entirely rooted in reality. And is the whole thing, like the story of the canine heroes in Clifford Simak's SF epic, 'City,' merely a fable told by one dog to another? There is a definite suggestion that the characters huddling together for shelter from pigs on the wing in the reprise of the opening acoustic song are dogs as well.

So much for the lyrical context, which is easier to talk about than the extremely thick mix of music, at times multi-layered and at others deceptively simple. Apart from the startling open and close, which is as shocking as a common chord of C in the middle of a piece of atonal music, the tunes are thematically very close to those of the previous two albums, with a number of tunes based on a rising minor second interval. But while, in the other two, it was possible to ignore the somewhat convoluted implications of the lyrics, treating the rich textures as a rather superior kind of musical wallpaper, here the savagery of the words is, at times, rather too close for this kind of complacent comfort, and the music only serves to underline the significance of the lyrics. For that reason, perhaps, the album may not be as commercially successful as the others, for at times the shocks come as staggeringly as Johnny Rotten gobbing at his audience, an uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium ('progressive' rock) that has become in recent years increasingly soporific. It is almost as if the Floyd realized that a lot of their buyers had managed to doze their way through the implications of the previous albums, and were determined to ensure that it didn't happen the third time round." [Dallas 113-116]

Roger refuted Dallas' theory that Animals was the third part of a trilogy, instead implying that it was the first part of a Wall trilogy (The Final Cut being the third).

Roger Waters: "I think Animals is more to do with The Wall than with Wish You Were Here. In fact, when I started jotting ideas down, strange ideas for a film, at one time, I did a lot of drawings using animal masks and things."
Dallas: "This was after The Wall album but when you were working on the movie?"
Roger: "No, no, no, no. I was working ideas for the movie even before I started writing music for The Wall." [Dallas 116]

It seems these ideas germinated as early as the Dark Side tour of 1972-3, and indeed Pigs was written at that time.

Album Package
Battersea Power Station, probably the largest all-brick edifice in the world, is the subject for the cover of Animals. Surrounded by train tracks and smoky skies, it is an effective representation of corporate industrialism and the world of the dogs, pigs, and sheep. The forty foot long inflatable pink pig floating serenely overhead is a powerful yet subtle statement about the greed that creates, and inevitably destroys, this world. Roger explained his choice for the cover art.

Roger Waters: "I like the four phallic towers . . . and the idea of power I find rather appealing in a strange way." [Schaffner 212]

Storm Thorgerson: "Roger had the idea for this cover and suggested flying a large inflatable pig from the towers of Battersea Power Station. He wanted to do it for real... no photo-trickery. Although the image of a pig suspended between the stupendous chimneys on a windswept day possessed a great sense of mood, it was the pig itself which caught the headlines. The day of the shoot was fantastic with a dramatic sky like a mixture of Turner and Constable. First the pig was inflated, but this took so long that it was not actually launched all day. The entire complement of eleven photographers and three film crews stood idle. The manager, with clever foresight, had hired a marksman with telescopic rifle to shoot down the pig if it escaped its mooring ropes and sailed off into the skies, where it would become an insurance risk. He also stood idle. On the second day, the manager with not quite such clever foresight had decided to ease the marksman on economic grounds. The inflated pig was launched into the air and secured by guy-ropes in between the towers. Everybody was very excited: cameras started clicking, film started rolling. But then a violent gust of wind suddenly put paid to our plans. The pig lurched one way, then the other, and then tore free of its moorings. It disappeared into the heavens in a trice. But there was no marksman to shoot it down. There was no time even to get a photo. Instead, there were a lot of people on the ground looking forlornly into the empty sky. The pig ascended into the flight paths of incoming jets landing at London's Heathrow Airport. Pilots stared in horror. The pig, with a mind of its own, carried on into Kent and descended upon a rural farmer. One can imagine the disbelief of his wife when the farmer said to her 'guess what...' The redoubtable roadies rescued the pig from the farmer that night, returned it to London, mended the punctures and put the pig up again so that we could photograph it the next day. The day was cloudless, with a bright blue sky, but it was not very striking. The pig was therefore stripped into the final artwork from day three into the sky of day one, which is how it could have been done in the first place. One could have photographed the pig at a separate venue, or even as a model. This might have saved a great deal of money, and a great deal of anxiety, but would certainly have prevented a jolly good story unfolding and a jolly good laugh being had by all, even the manager. And maybe Roger was right in that it actually did look better by being the record of a real event." [Shine On]

Simply because it is unequalled by any other anecdote in the history of Pink Floyd for pure hilarity, reprinted below is Miles' tale of The Flight of the Pig.

"The group of photographers assembled again [on the second day] to witness the ascent of the 40 foot pig into the early morning sky above Battersea Power Station. The photographers all shot furiously and then, to everyone's horror, one of the guiding lines broke and the massive pig sailed blissfully aloft into the stratosphere. The first sighting came from a jet pilot who touched down at Heathrow airport and reported his sighting. Some reports say that they tested his breath before taking his information seriously. A police helicopter was sent up and picked up the pig over London. It tracked it to a height of 5,000 feet before having to return to base. The Civil Aviation Authorities then took over and a general alert was sent out to all pilots that a 40 foot long, pink, flying pig, was on the loose in the airspace over the capital. The London evening newspapers began to get reports of sightings from readers. The Civil Aviation Authority lost radar contact with it at a point east of Detling, near Chatham in Kent, flying at a height of 18,000 feet and heading east towards Germany, where it was made. "You could call it a homing pig," quipped the man from the CAA. The pig finally reached the earth in Kent." [Miles]



TRACK LISTING
Pigs on the Wing Part One
Dogs
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Sheep
Pigs on the Wing Part Two




The following photos from Montreal in 1977...


1 comment:

  1. I agree with Waters,Animals seems like part one of quite possibly the darkest trilolgy in the history of music.

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