Animals (1977)


 
1. Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) 2. Dogs 3. Pigs (Three Different Ones) 4. Sheep 5. Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)

 

It was right about the time that this album came out that bassist Roger Waters sort of evolved into the band's "leader". Yes, there would always be debates about who contributed what in this band, but it was Waters that was pushing them into the directions that he thought best. He was, after all, the band's chief lyricist, so it's not completely surprising that he would be the one that took the reigns of control. It should also be pointed out that he was writing most of the band's music at this point as well.

On a heavier note, Waters was never really a cheerful kind of guy. His themes and ideas were always awfully depressing, and listening to Pink Floyd for many, just became too miserable of an experience. His writing would be become a bit more personable on future albums, but it was clear that "success" hadn't helped his demeanor at all. If anything, it made it worse and he found himself becoming a much more distant human being.

This is probably the band's most depressing album. It's impossible to talk about this album without discussing, to some degree, the concept of the album. Especially when there are only three songs (in addition to an "intro" and an "outro", that is) and they're all, well, named after a different animal. The concept is loosely based around the George Orwell novel "Animal Farm" in which all the characters are one kind of animal or another, and based on certain stereotypes, we watch the animals interact, and to some extent, destroy themselves.

According to Pink Floyd, we're all either a dog, a pig or a sheep. None of them are really "good" guys. The dogs chase and want to eat the sheep, but the sheep are too submissive to do anything about it, so they just allow themselves to be eaten. The "pigs" are the fat, bloated ones in power who get to make all the rules and live "high on the hog" (if you parden the pun). Yes, it's heavy, too heavy, to be frank, and Roger Waters just flat out sounds a tad too pissed off. It becomes a little too much, lyrically to hear him beat up Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse in Pigs (Three Different Ones), and his bastardization of the 23rd Psalm in Sheep is mightily offensive to many as well, but Waters is Waters and you just had to take his crabby persona if you wanted to be a fan of this band.

Fortunately, the music here is excellent. This is quite possibly the best album of pure songs that this band ever released. True, there's really only three, but they average probably about twelve minutes in length, so the band has plenty of opportunity to screw things up, yet they never do. A lot of Pink Floyd albums are filled with noises and/or sound effects. They paid the bills a lot on their records by being different and just a tad bit weirder than most of their contemporaries. So unlike, for example, their last album Wish You Were Here, we hear a lot more guitar, bass, drums and keyboard as opposed to just dreamy synthesizers throughout the album.

Another curious thing about the album, is that it really was impossible to have singles from this album. The pieces are just to varied in their scope in addition to being very long, so unless your listening to a "classic rock" station, you couldn't expect to hear these songs pop up on a top 40 playlist anywhere. I thought it was sad that in the later years, the Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd ignored this entire album. Bad feelings were deep, and it wouldn't surprise me if they stayed away from playing parts of the album just because most of the songs were written by Waters.

It's also worth noting that this album was really the beginning of the end. Yes, they were now selling out stadiums, but their mass popularity became more about wanting to be associated with this group rather than really caring about what they had to say. It has become a bit of a legend that there were times during this tour that Waters became so enraged that he would either stop songs in the middle and berate the crazed, out of control audience, and one time he even actually spat on a fan. So yes, all great things must come to an "end" even though the Floyd machine still had some good work left in it. It was sad to see what this band was turning into though, even if they were churning out great music.

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