Forgotten Classics: Animals by Pink Floyd

Animals may be Pink Floyd's most forgotten classic work.

By , Columnist

Pick any band with an extended catalog and their works are going to be evaluated according to their worth. As is expected, some albums in those catalogs will gather more praise than others. But as is often the case, a certain album will be overlooked because, well, too much focus is placed elsewhere. These aren’t albums that should overshadow more important releases. No, these are albums that should have better praise than what they’ve received. They’re not dismissed albums, nor is the assertion laid out that they are better than the accepted classics. They’re just great albums that slip into the shadows, revered by a few, but largely ignored.

Animals by Pink Floyd is one such album. Released in 1977, the album contains three long tracks, with two short acoustic pieces that bookend them. Creatively written in distinct metaphors to provide a piercing, unflattering look at humanity and concentrating on three social traits that haunt us, Animals goes in deep.

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” lyrically explores the commanding group of those who would have you follow their ideas on how life should be laid out. Often, this group contains the religious institutions and the moralists who would have you follow a packaged prescription that favors their idealistic views. And while Waters’ lyrics are teeth-sharp, it is also the music that adds to the allure of the song.

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“Dogs” exposes the greed that drives many toward the brink in search of power and wealth. It is a great barometer of the current times as it was in the ‘70s when it was released. Telling of men learning “kill” techniques to gain an advantage, and then reducing the same men to fodder for death, “Dogs” speaks truth from many angles.

“Sheep” ropes up the rest of humanity in an eye-opening attack on complacency, a willingness to let someone else do the ruling and law-making, while we “…stay at home and do as we’re told…”

Musically, David Gilmour and the rest of Pink Floyd contribute greatly to Waters’ frightening Orwellian dystopia with familiar Pink Floyd perfection.

Animals, a hard bitten look at the way we are, is an ignored classic that should be mentioned in the same breath as The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall. Yes, the album has its fans, but they’re far too few, leaving the mention of this highly underrated album often obscured as a footnote in favor of The Wall. With its jagged and frightening viewpoints, Animals is as good an album as they have ever made. But you wouldn’t know it.

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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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