(All Album Reviews by Sean)
This album has always stood out, in my mind, from the band's output from Dark Side of the Moon onward. It has a seriously dark tone. It reminds me for some reason of an angry Meddle, even though the format is obviously different. I see a parallel between this albums long cuts and "Echoes" or even "Shine on you Crazy Diamond". At times Floyd's arrangements were vast and grandiose, like on those epics. More of that is found on Animals. Yet there is a certain unpredictability in the music here that sets it apart from the more concise Dark Side or the short cuts on Wish You Were Here. It seems the band stretches when they work in a format of songs 10 minutes in length or longer.
Animals is clearly a Roger Waters driven concept album. Some would even point to it as "The first Waters solo album", as it does seem to be a template his later works would draw upon. Luckily his influence isn't too heavy handed on Animals, the rest of the band really shines and turns in some their most inspired and unpredictable playing.
Also Waters lyrical theme on Animals isn't as personal or overpowering as it would be later in his career, starting with the band's next album, The Wall. The concept of people as a whole against a corrupt system or figure (like on Animals) seems not as preachy and wallowing in self pity as the angle Water's would soon write from.
Musically the prime mover on this album is guitarist David Gilmour. While he only cowrote one cut, "Dogs", his playing and influence is all over this album. It is easy to spot a few of his trademark licks on other albums from Dark Side onward, but few if any of those crop up on this album. Which leaves us with some of Gilmour's most exciting and unpredictable playing of his career. Not a bad deal.
Gilmour blends layer upon layer of guitars on this album via overdubbing. From careening harmonized solos to vibrant strummed detuned acoustic guitars, he mixes the tonal palette like a true artist at work at his canvas. His note choices are excellent here too, as usual. But with a wild twist of whole tone harmony tossed in at a few opportune moments. He is also the man responsible for the fine fretless bass playing on "Pigs (Three Different Ones)". Waters once thanked Gilmour for helping him win so many best bassist polls. People assumed all the bass playing on the album was Waters. But the fretless work was actually Gilmour.
Format wise this album is bookended by two short acoustic numbers "Pigs on the Wing Part 1 and 2". What lies between are three epic pieces that were each roughly ten minutes long. Each piece stands on its own, but there is a dark thread that runs through each that unites them. These numbers had been played on the previous tour, before the album was ever released. Once they were recorded for Animals the names and some of the lyrics were changed to mesh with the albums animal concept.
In closing. This album is really the last time Pink Floyd made a cohesive album that allowed all its members a chance to shine. It is also the last one to deal in long, epic type numbers. If these qualities appeal to you, get this album if you haven't already. Chances are, you already have.
Pink Floyd are to me the most innovative and indeed the most influence-ridden prog bands in the world (Yes, I know..some of you might disagree.) I have been able to buy their first albums when they "saw the light of day"...way back then (as I am 54 years old)...ever since then Floyd had a special place in my prog heart. And in my book there have been highs and there have been lows. This their 1977 album which is praised by many fellow prog friends....leave me cold....sorry guys (and girls..are there any??) but I just cannot see (hear) the brilliance of this album. Now mind you, my favorite album by Floyd is Atom Heart Mother so that just might explain my sentiments?! Id rather go with Dark side of... or Wish you were... or even Division bell but hey, thatís just me.
Nope....I think this Floyd album is weak!! Even though Iím up against "5 star reviewing" I think that this Floyd outing is mediocre. An OK album, but not essential.