Thursday, November 30, 2006

Animals


OK - that's not a song title - but it is the title of a 1977 album by Pink Floyd - and I'm going to do a little review of it now. Animals was the first Pink Floyd CD I bought...sure I had watched The Wall, and I had probably listened to most of Dark Side of the Moon, but I wouldn't consider myself a fan by any stretch of the imagination.

I had got a Sony Discman for Christmas one year, and went boxing day shopping for some CDs with my Dad and brother. One store we went to was having a sale where they were charging $1 per song on the CD (well before iTunes came up with that pricing model). My Dad noticed a copy of Animals, he showed it to me by saying - "That's the Battersea Power Station...I used to drive past that every day". I took it from him and saw it was by Pink Floyd - but better yet it only had 5 songs - so $5! I bought that and about 10 other CDs...but for the next month Animals was all I listened to. It was the album that got me hooked on Pink Floyd.

Similar to George Orwell's Animal Farm, Pink Floyd used animals for metaphors of different classes of people. Dogs - Business leaders, Pigs - Politicians, Sheep - the working class.

Pigs on the Wing (part one)
A short, acoustic song with a catchy melody. This is the closest thing to a love song that the Floyd put on the album. Apparently Roger Waters wrote it (and part two) for his wife at the time. When I started searching for Pink Floyd stuff on the internet I found out that the 8 track version of Animals had a different version of Pigs on the Wing where the two parts were linked by a guitar solo by Snowy White. I like that version even more than the original two parts on the CD.

Dogs
When I first listened to Dogs I was blown away. It started out normally enough...the lyrics were fantastic...then half way through the 17 minutes dogs started barking. This was something I was not expecting as I had never really listened to anything like it before. When the song ended, I just had to listen to it again.

The song is obvious enough in that it is about big business and the complete lack of soul and feeling business people have about the working class on whose back they have made their fortunes.

Originally written and performed during the Dark Side of the Moon tours of 1974-5, Dogs was originally titled "You Gotta Be Crazy". The lyrics at the end of Dogs have a certain similarity to the style of lyrics in Eclipse at the end of Dark Side of the Moon:

Who was born in a house full of pain
Who was trained not to spit in the fan
Who was told what to do by the man
Who was broken by trained personnel
Who was fitted with collar and chain
Who was given a pat on the back
Who was breaking away from the pack
Who was only a stranger at home
Who was ground down in the end
Who was found dead on the phone
Who was dragged down by the stone.
The song was originally intended for the album that became "Wish You Were Here", but Roger Waters had different ideas. This may have been one of the starting points in the division between Waters and Gilmour.

Pigs (Three Different Ones)
In Pigs (Three Different Ones), Roger Waters starts by criticizing the greed and behaviour of businessmen - continuing on where Dogs left off. But in the second verse forward it targets more of the political figures of the day. Specifically it seems to me that his disdain for Maggie Thatcher so evident in 'A Final Cut' started well before the Falkland Islands 'war'. Also, the lyrics are critical of a group of politically connected parents that were advocating the censorship of music for being to sexually overt including music by Pink Floyd.

The line 'Ha Ha, Charade You Are' is now a common insult used on South Park.

Sheep
Sheep is my favourite song on the album. It's a view into the philosophy and viewpoint Roger Waters has about the working class. Like Dogs, this song started life as a song the Floyd performed on the Dark Side of the Moon tour and was originally called Raving and Drooling - one of my all time favourite titles!

Part way through the song, there is a satire of Psalm 23 which, for some bizarre reason, caused Tipper Gore and the PMRC to declare that Pink Floyd were Satanists!?

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me down to lie. Through pastures green, He leadeth me the silent waters by. With bright knives, He releaseth my soul. He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places. He converteth me to lamb cutlets. For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger. When cometh the day we lowly ones, Through quiet reflection, and great dedication. Master the art of karate. Lo, we shall rise up. And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water."

It doesn't get much better than that...


Pigs on the Wing (part two)
The conclusion of Pigs on the Wing from the first track. These two tracks seem to have little to do with the 'meat' of the album, although Roger does refer to himself as a 'Dog' and there is a mention of the 'stone' dragging him down that features in Dogs. When I listen to this album now, I generally just listen to the middle three songs, and sometimes the 8 track version of Pigs on the Wing.

2 comments:

Kimota94 aka Matt said...

Fantastic, detailed review of one of my favourite albums! Thanks for taking the time to write all your thoughts down like that.

I have more love for "Pigs on the Wing" than you do, I guess. I think parts 1 and 2 perfectly bookend the harsher sentiments of the rest of the album, providing a gentle easing in and then back out, like a decompression chamber!

I also look the central concept of the songs' title. It reminds me of the expression, "If pigs could fly, we'd all need umbrellas!" :-)

Kimota94 aka Matt said...

And by "look the central concept...", I, of course, meant "love the central concept..."