“Animals” is a concept album that gives us a thought of what life was like in the 1970’s with politics being a main part of everyone’s life. It’s the 10th studio album by the iconic rock band that is “Pink Floyd”. It’s also one of the most progressive albums that they made with the concept behind it being very intricate. It was released on 23rd January 1977 and 41 years later, this album is still as important as it was back then. The album cover includes a pig floating between two of the chimneys at Battersea Power Station in South London. Pigs became a symbol for Pink Floyd and featured as a kind of mascot at their concerts from the release of this album. Pigs weren’t just a symbol for Pink Floyd, they were an obsession for hippies in the 1960’s/1970’s as they used to call policemen that. For me, this album is so important, purely because it was the first album I listened to all the way through when I was young. My family gave me good music taste!
The album starts just as it ends. “Pigs on the Wing Part 1” is sung by Roger Waters. It’s a love song that Roger wrote for his wife at the time. The song is split into two halves which sits really nicely as bookends to such a full on album. The song doesn’t really make sense to the middle three songs but no one has ever really questioned as to why it’s on the album, because well, why should they? The song works so well. The song is so simple and just features Water’s guitar and vocals. Roger Water’s wife at the time was the only person who he had ever met that could stand up to him and he really admired her for that. All his life, until that point, he was looking for someone who he could count as an equal.
“You’ve got to be crazy…” was what the next song was originally going to be called, but they changed it to obviously, “Dogs”. Dogs are the real deal animals purely because they all aspire to be the big “boss”. Waters and Gilmour wrote Dogs lyrically to mean that Dogs are conniving people who are always after something. The song originally started off as a jam that the band had that was turned into a full arrangement of what would become probably the best song on this album. The song is lyrically about trying to find who you are as a person and your place in the world, but getting stuck in the day-to-day life routine. The first half is sung by David Gilmour and as verse 4 comes around, Roger Waters takes the lead. I think they really do sound very similar in this song though. Verse 4 is the only verse where first person is used for a moment, before it goes back to “YOU”.
Being the longest track on the album at a staggering 17:05, this song has got to be up there in the greatest Pink Floyd tracks. It’s progressive and melodically & lyrically golden. The one line that really hits home in this song has got to be “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”. This indicates that people try to do things purely for themselves when really they need to think of the principles before hand. If Black Mirror could be an album, I think it would be this album, purely because Pink Floyd really go into depth’s on their own political views. I’m not saying Black Mirror is politically, I mean it is, but I can see the similarities between them because the writers stick to what they believe in. Animals is still futuristic and ahead of its time even for the present time. It’s progressive and so important. “Dragged down by the stone” leads into a complex interlude in Dogs, that ironically features dogs barking.
This album is really where Roger Waters knew that he could get his political voice heard by writing songs for people to hear. Plus it was a good warm up for Pink Floyd before they released The Wall two years later, which we all know is an iconic, moving concept album with its own film! Dogs has always been one of my favourite Pink Floyd songs purely because when you think it’s gotten to the peak of the song, it just gets better and carries on building throughout.
“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” is about the society and the government in the time that they wrote/recorded this album. The bass completely drives this song and makes the song so funky, even though lyrically, it’s really digging into people. Animals isn’t just about one person, it’s about a lot of people that really angered Pink Floyd (mainly Roger Waters.) The only person that has been identified in this song is Mary Whitehouse, but really Pigs could be highly aimed at Margaret Thatcher who was in power at the time. I only say this because of the lyric “you like the feel of steel”… hello… her nickname was the Iron Lady for god sake! The lyric “you’re nearly a laugh” also cries out that he’s laughing at those in power, “but you’re really a cry” is him realising that he can’t really do anything about it, so instead, he wrote songs to explain his thoughts. The talk box is the most iconic part of the whole song purely as it sounds like a pig. I remember as a child listening to Animals in the car and Pigs always used to stand out to me mainly because of the bass. Roger Waters bass tone in this song is refreshing and equalised so lovely in the mix. This song actually got me into learning how to play the bass guitar.
Introduced with a sound just like how Rick Wakeman would enter a Yes song, Richard Wright progressively starts “Sheep” on keys while a strange sort of Doctor Who vibe comes rhythmically out of Roger Waters bass. Sheep is about the blind followers, which I feel was aimed directly at the public in the 1970’s who stuck by all the politicians as the safe option, because they were scared to stand up for themselves in what they believe in. “Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air” really interested me when I first heard it as animals know when they’re going to die apparently. If we are “gods” lambs then “christ” is our shepherd according to religion. I’m not religious in any way but it really is a good adaptation to describe “his” love. A shepherd will feed his lambs and protect them.. all the way up to when he slaughters them. Going back to the meaning of the song, politicians fool us all the way into thinking they’re right and then once everyone has voted for them and put them in power, they change and come out as their “true selves”. The ending chord progression of the song is such a happy sound and makes us feel that the sheep/blind followers are free from the dogs and badness of their everyday life.
We end the albums just as it starts. “Pigs on the Wing Part 2″ has the exact same concept as Part 1 does but in this part, Roger Waters talks about how he has stopped being a dog and has settled down in the society with his love. I personally love this album so much purely for the concept of it. They make such a deep concept turn into a child’s understanding of it. While referring to politicians as Animals, it really makes me open my eyes and released who’s who in the world.
Absolutely stunning album and still so iconic to this day.
Favourite Tracks: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Sheep
Score – 10/10