Britain was not looking too good at this time. The weakened and sickly economy affected a lot of British society with unions running amok at the time. The Winter Of Discontent was just around the corner. Punk and Disco were becoming fashionable, being more commercially oriented in a negative way. This would not have helped Pink Floyd one bit.
But Pink Floyd was not going to give up right here. In fact, they released another classic album in 1977 – Animals. It is a concept album dividing people into said animals, by their nature. Let’s take a listen and see if it has aged well or not.
We begin with Pigs On The Wing 1. It’s a short acoustic piece and Roger Waters sings about the worldview he has in relation to this idea of humans being animals by nature. It’s very short, a minute and a half long.
Next is Dogs with its fast-paced acoustic guitars, eerie synth sounds and Roger Waters singing about the said nature of people who act like dogs, so to speak. It’s a great, almost Chinese astrology referral. It has some extremely nasty lyrics in it, in fact, nastier than anything punk ever did at this time. David Gilmour plays his guitar so well here, fitting the music perfectly. It’s a deeply psychological experience musically, and the music is very psychedelic. It goes into more warped guitar playing and awesome sounding drumbeats by Nick Mason. The guitar solos here are epic, typically great David Gilmour fashion. The rest of the music powers it along, with dogs barking in the background. It then goes remarkedly subtle, before kicking in with more guitar solos. The organ creates a good groove here as well. “And when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest that you’ve sown…” sings Roger Waters when part two of the singing commences. Once that finishes, we go into a dark sounding part of the song with loads of sound effects. There are some trippy dog bark sound effects in the middle of this piece. More similar sound effects occur here as well, including theremin style noises and a man whistling for his dog. The acoustic guitars then return. The dark and impressionist singing from Roger Waters powers the song based section on. Some pounding drums then enter the scene. We go back into instrumental sections towards the end of this track, then returning to the main song section. It ends after nearly twenty minutes, an epic journey indeed.
Pigs (Three Different Ones) begins with a pig grunting, then organ sounds and bass notes kick in. It’s a very hypnotic and psychedelic piece. The guitar riff here is excellent. The mix of sounds begins as we launch into the song. It’s a surprisingly catchy and poppy sort of song about humanity’s greed. It’s a much better piece than the previous track was, and is far more groove-based. Pink Floyd obviously still had some great music to make at this point, despite the differences within the band. It has many sections in it, never a dull moment here. The trippy guitars here in the midsection are excellent. This song flows naturally and is thoroughly enjoyable. Even though Disco was popular at the time, this has a sort of Disco groove about it. We then return to an organ riff, and sounds at the beginning of the track are revisited. The next part of the song refers to politicians as pigs, continuing the catchy groove that has been done before, as a reprise. Another set of guitar solos returns towards the end of this track. A long fade-out finishes off this great song.
Sheep is next, beginning with sheep sounds. It begins with some sorts of keyboard parts that Radiohead surely would have copied in their own time. A chugging bass riff then occurs, propelling the song along in its listening experience. Some reversed drums then lead us into the track, which has some really great singing from Roger Waters which utilize extensive vocal sounds effects. This is awesome stuff here, referring to the “herd mentality” that many people have in their lives. When the song section finishes, we go into a rather jam sort of midsection. The drumming by Nick Mason is really a standout point here, driving the rest of the band along in Pink Floyd fashion. The liquid bass riff then returns, which is somewhat funky. Some eerie synth sounds then enter, along with the sheep sounds, once again. A vocoder lyric part enters the sonic realm before Roger Waters begins singing the second half of the song. Towards the end, we have an almost Talking Heads like riff that fits the song very well. We follow the instrumental jam, all the way to fade out. Birds chirp and sheep baa-ing.
We finish with Pigs On The Wing 2 which is a reprise of the first track and finishes our concept album right here. It’s a beautiful and good statement to end the sonic journey we have had before and explains the finality of it all.
This album is not as good or as essential as Dark Side Of The Moon or Wish You Were Here. But still, it is a consistent and listenable effort. The only downside? Due to increasing tension between band members, Pink Floyd’s effort this time is not as good. The length of the songs could have been reduced. Roger Waters asserted increasing authority after this recording over the rest of Pink Floyd. Still, this is quite a good listen.