On January 21, 1977, "Pink Floyd" released their tenth studio album, "Animals".
The book, published on August 17, 1945, near the end of World War II, is a satirical story about the communist regime in the Soviet Union and the status of the individual vs. the regime. Orwell shows in his book, how the communist idea of equality and social and economic justice, can turn to corruption and exploitation, all in an allegorical, cynical, and satirical way.
Thus, in Orwell's story, a bunch of animals decides to rebel against the cruel farm owner. They manage to evict him from the farm, when a free and happy future is in sight. However, after a short time, the pigs take advantage of their wisdom and ascend to control the animal farms. Slowly it seems that there is no difference, at all, between the pigs and the humans or the cruel farm owner. They enslave the rest of the animals, exploit them and even move into the house of the farm owner, in a way that questions the viability of the rebellion and the results of the revolution, carried out by the animals.
The idea for the album was conceived by Roger Waters, who was born around the time the book was released. Waters took the idea from Orwell's book, adapted it to the time and place, and developed it into an anti-capitalist musical protest, that serves as a mirror to British society and is a kind of counter to the punk revolution that took place in England at the time.
This album for the most part is a Roger Waters solo project, which in a sense symbolizes the beginning of the end of "Pink Floyd" as a band. All of the songs on the album were written by Waters except for "Dogs" co-written with David Gilmour, while Rick Wright and Nick Mason serving as studio session players.
What helped Waters to take over the creative side, was the fact that at the time keyboardist Rick Wright became a shadow of himself, due to The dissolution of his marriage and a his heavy drug addiction. Waters recognized Wright's weakness and immediately filled the vacuum with an almost complete dominance that hovered over the whole creative process.
This "takeover" by Waters even influenced the musical style of the album. In the absence of Rick Wright who pulled the band in the Progressive direction, this album is more inclined in the Rock direction.
The musical piece on this album is divided into five parts, with Waters introducing us to the main characters who will star in the story of the act.
The pigs - members of the upper class, at the top of the chain with wealth and power, control society with a strong hand.
The dogs - middle class, backstabbers, traitors, crooks who will do anything to rise up the social chain.
The sheep - the working class, the passive herd, which is repeatedly exploited by the dogs and pigs.
The album begins and ends with the track "Pigs on the Wing", on its two parts. These are essentially different tracks from the rest of the dark and gloomy ones on the album. They are meant to open and close the album with an optimistic message of hope and brotherhood,. With the notion that love can protect people from all the evils of the world, including the evils depicted in other songs of the album like hypocritical and exploitative human behavior. The two parts song, was written by Waters for his then-wife, Carolyn, and it effectively replaces Orwell's pessimistic ending, with an optimistic message.
The second track "Dogs" is, as mentioned, the only track on the album in which another member of the band received credit - David Gilmour. The song is about a bad and cruel businessman who eventually finds himself dying of cancer, lonely and helpless. The piece was written by Gilmour and Waters in 1974 and was originally titled "You've Got to Be Crazy". Waters changed the lyrics a bit, changed the title to fit the concept of the album, and changed the tone a bit, so that the singing could fit both him and Gilmour. This is the longest song on the album that exceeds the 17-minute mark. It's interesting to note, that at 15:30 approx. Waters says the words "Who was trained not to spit - in a fan". Indeed, Waters eventually spat at a fan during the "In The Flesh" tour that promoted the album. Stunned by his reaction, Waters got the idea of isolating himself from the audience through a wall that would be placed along the stage, thus creating the concept of the album "The Wall".
The third track that opens the second side of the vinyl is "Pigs (Three Different Ones)". There are 3 verses in the song, each of which represents a different "pig". This song features one of David Gilmour's beautiful solos, in which he uses the "Talk Box" effect, meant to mimic a "pig" voice. This is the first time this effect has been used by Gilmour on a 'Pink Floyd" album. David Gilmour also plays the bass guitar in this song, as well as on the next song“ Sheep ”.
The next song "Sheep", represents the working class. The song includes a hidden parody message in the form of a quote from Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, He converteth me to lamb cutlets". Similar to "Dogs", this song was also written and performed in concerts back in 1974, then it was called "Raving and Drooling".
The album closes with the second part of "Pigs on the Wing" and with an optimistic message of love, hope, and brotherhood.
The iconic album cover, designed by the legendary Storm Thorgerson, was shot at London's Battersea Power Station. The pig between the chimneys of the power station was a huge balloon filled with helium gas and connected via cables to the chimneys of the station. The task of the photographers was not simple at all. The team required three attempts to obtain the desired picture, as it appears on the album cover and this too happened only with the help of editing tricks. The camera crew hired a sniper whose job was to shoot the pig in case the balloon was disconnected from its cables. On the first day, the crew was unable to pick up the pig and place it between the chimneys so the crew was required to return there the next day. On the second day, the pig was disconnected from its shackles, but the crew forgot to invite the sniper for this filming day, and the pig has swept away in the skies of London, advancing towards the flight path of Heathrow Airport and causing flight delays. Finally, the pig landed on a farm and its owner called the police and reported that the pig had landed in its territory and scared the cows. Only on the third day did the team manage to get a good shot of the pig, but it happened on a sunny day with blue skies, which did not suit the gloomy atmosphere that Thurgson wanted to convey. So, in the end, the picture of the pig from the third day of filming was put together with the picture of the power station from the first day of filming.
Despite Waters' attempt to wrap his heavy and dark work in a positive message, a very great dissonance is present between Waters the creator, and Waters the person. This masterpiece has become a poignant parody whose arrows are directed toward its creator. Waters' domination and tyranny towards his bandmates during the recording of the album, simply scream out, in a way that makes Waters the tragic hero of the musical story he himself created.
Waters' takeover would force Gilmour and Wright to release solo albums in 1978. During the tour designed to promote the album, Waters will isolate himself and move further and further away from band members. The tyranny and alienation will increase and their pick will come in the form of total disintegration of this mighty band. Although this is a formidable album, "Animals" will be remembered in the pages of history as an album that marked the beginning of the end for "Pink Floyd".
For Listening to the Remix version: Spotify