Release Date: September 16, 2022
Label: Warner Music (Sony Music outside Europe)
Release Info: Animals 2018 Remix will be released on CD, LP (with gatefold artwork), Blu-ray, SACD, and Deluxe Gatefold formats. The Deluxe Gatefold version includes LP, CD, audio Blu-ray, audio DVD, and a 32-page book. The Blu-ray and DVD audio include the 2018 remix in Stereo, 5.1 Surround (both by James Guthrie), and the original 1977 Stereo mix. The 32-page booklet features rarely seen behind-the-scenes photographs of the album sleeve shoot, along with live images and memorabilia. The album artwork has been reimagined for this release.
Animals is one of many Pink Floyd classics. I heard the album when it first came out years ago and thought it was bizarre, and I was unappreciative. I also knew it was stoner music without realizing what I was hearing was brilliant and imaginative progressive rock. For those of you newer to this musical world, this overview will give you a glimpse into one of the greatest bands and a fresh look at a timeless classic slice of progressive rock for those long ago initiated.
This most recent release comes in many flavors for the completist. I am sure the 5.1 surround sound mix is fantastic, and this vinyl version was very satisfying with the oversized colorful booklet. The sound is phenomenal, as one would expect.
Side one starts with a quick acoustic guitar introduction with waters doing the honors on vocals. Then it launches into the meat of the album with "Dogs." I call the track's lyrics backstabbing set to rock. The animals referred to are the greedy politicians and the gluttonously wealthy; at least, that is what I can ascertain based on the band's output. It starts with some dogs barking, an excellent electric solo kicks in, a lovely synth passage, and some superb guitar work from Gilmour. By the time the fourth verse starts, Gilmour's vocals are reigning supreme, and a lot of echo effects help to emphasize those words, then more dogs barking. Some wild synth parts come in, followed by some weird sound effects, then an acoustic guitar mellows things out and leads into the fifth verse.
Waters takes over the vocals, followed by some stinging electric leads, then a tasteful lead supported by some strong bass lines courtesy of Waters. The sixth verse has a repetitive message to solidify the track's meaning. Waters consistently would deliver vocals with the needed emphasis.
On to side two with "Pigs" (Three Different Ones) with the entrance of a funky guitar intro as Waters sings, "pig man charade you are." I love the energy and how different from side one it was. The lyrics bite with cynicism like "you radiate cold shafts of broken glass" and some pig sounds, then into the third verse and more political pokes. Gilmour uses the talk box, and steady rhythms carry it through to some echoing guitar sounds. Then Water's vocals start in the fourth verse. The vocals lead out to a magnificent lead guitar break. This is vintage Gilmour complimented by another outstanding bass run with great drum fills from Mason, which bring it to a fade out with sheep chattering and on to the next track, of course, "Sheep."
A tasty jazz keyboard run from Wright starts things off, then the bass enters, and Waters begins singing, followed by keyboards and drum mixing in with a prolific explosion as Gilmour peels off some more licks to astound with some effects. Waters delivers with preciseness and impact with the lyrics as usual. A nice transition changes it to a different purposeful pace, then a switch to a mellow downswing with the bass. The third verse is a prayer with lines like "getting converted to lamb cutlets." Are we talking about the animal itself here or god's children? The track leads out with a flourish from Gilmour, then a segue with sheep once again with birds chirping this time, then on to the finale "Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)" with Waters and the acoustic guitar ending it all as it began and you get "a shelter from pigs on a wing."
Animals is cynical, satirical, and a musical masterpiece. In 1977 it was a true wonder of music, and it stands today the same, only heard with different, perhaps older ears, remastered to accentuate all of the subtilities that may have slipped by or ignored on the first run. This essential release in the Pink Floyd catalog deserves another look and listen in 2022.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Progressive Music Reviews Founder
July 18, 2022
1. Pigs on the Wing (Part One)
3. Pigs (Three Different Ones)
5. Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)