Produced by Pink Floyd
Recorded March--December 1976 at Britannia Row Studios in Islington, Longdon, England
Released January 23, 1977
Sleeve Design by Roger Waters and Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell)
Graphics by Nick Mason
Chart placing: #2 in the UK; #3 in the US
The years following the success of The Dark Side of the Moon took a great toll on Pink Floyd. The pressures of the music business, personality differences as well as creative disagreements created substantial tension between them all. In fact, everyone in the band wanted to pursue solo albums and perhaps spend half of the year working on them and the other half with the Floyd. Nick Mason confirms that towards the end of 1974, every Pink Floyd member had even considered quitting: "That was one of those things that one discovered much later. At the time, each of us had no idea the others felt the same. It was down to the pressure of following Dark Side… combined with Roger's feelings. This was the point when he started to feel that he could do it all on his own." This tension brought on the well publicized and often exaggerated head-butting between Gilmour and Waters, but perhaps even more so with Wright and Waters, who has never been shy to discuss these matters. "We always had our differences--witness what happened later on, the ways we parted in 1979, 1980 or whenever it was. He and Dave, I think, always resented the idea that I put a lot of emphasis upon emotion, politics, philosophy and all those things that they felt shouldn't really be a component. They've always been central to all my work." Wright acknowledges his emphasis on music rather than words. "As a musician and a listener to music, I never laid that much importance on lyrics… I don't think I had a problem with the quality of the lyrics at any time… There may have been evenings when I'd disagree with what he was saying politically, and still do… Certainly, he opened up all his traumas, which carried on through Wish You Were Here and into The Wall. I could empathize with those lyrics, but I didn't find life so bleak as he was perhaps suggesting."
Gilmour also saw Wright's unhappiness with the way things were. "Rick was curmudgeonly about things and wanted us to move in a more pure, maybe jazzy, direction. He was always moaning and groaning, but he didn't really mean it half the time. We all have very different personalities is the truth of the matter." Despite these differences of opinion, the Floyd continued to create some of the most brilliant music of the era, although at times it was the music itself that caused the internal problems. "We always argued." says Gilmour. "Arguments come out of passion. They come out of one's absolute belief that one way is the right way, and the other person has an absolute belief that it should be different, and out of that compromise, wonderful things can happen… I don't myself look on compromise as a dirty word. In our lives together in Pink Floyd, we argued and fought and compromised on things. Whether things would have been better done one way or the other way, we can only speculate." Wright was also quick to overlook personal conflicts for the sake of the music. "Even though I wasn't great friends with Roger, there was a great working relationship. We had respect for each other... Wish You Were Here was great, but the tensions were beginning to come between us." So Pink Floyd carried on, knowing that they'd already achieved what they'd set out to do. As Waters put it, "When you've been used to working very hard for years and years, and reached the point you were working towards, there's still a need to go on because you realize that where you've got to isn't what you thought it was."
1977 marked a time for change in the music industry--disco and punk were becoming popular, and established rock bands like Pink Floyd were on the decline. The newer "musicians" like Johnny Rotten of the British rock band Sex Pistols targeted progressive rock as being "lame" and "uncool," and Mr. Rotten made this point known by taking Pink Floyd T-Shirts and writing "I hate" over the logo. Even though Pink Floyd's followers didn't stray from the band, the music media had a very negative view of the Floyd, who were notorious for shunning the press. Chris Charlesworth, a writer for Melody Maker, remembered how they "maintained a couldn't-care-less attitude, as if giving interviews, never mind courting the music papers, was somehow beneath them." When he finally did get an interview with Rick Wright, the keyboardist was very open about their ambivalence toward fame. "We are not trying to sell ourselves, just the music. Right from the start we adopted this policy. We have never had a publicity agent and we've never found it necessary."
The band, unfortunately, had no strength to do anything about their waning image because of the massive touring over the past few years, nor did they seem to care. "I never really listened to much punk music." said Waters. "I've never been very interested in modern music. I might find some of it enjoyable, but it's never really been interesting. I never really heard The Clash, and certainly not the Sex Pistols... As I still am now, I was listening to Neil Young when all that happened. It passed me by. I'll always listen to a new Dylan album. But it takes an awful lot of something for anyone else to break in to what I listen to." Even Rick Wright shared the same frame of mind: "I ignore the way pop is going. I don't listen to what is being played on the radio. I don't watch Top Of The Pops…I don't even know how the rock business is going."
1976 saw them take a much-needed break from touring to head back to the studios to record a new album. The band spent £500,000 on the latest in studio equipment and were eager to put it to use. This was the last recording session in which Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright were all on good terms with each other. Waters was very much in control, but a weary Gilmour was passive about things and let Waters have his way. However, Gilmour denies any kind of power struggle for dominance. "I didn't want to be the leader, but Roger desperately did want to be the leader, and I didn't think that if someone wants to be the leader, that that then means he has the final say on everything that goes on… In terms of drive and lyrical concept matters, he was the de facto leader. But I certainly had a resistance to stating, 'Roger is our leader,' as it creates a feeling that you have to defer to him on other matters--and on musical matters I didn't feel I should. I didn't think it was good for us, for me not to argue and try and push my case as I saw it. Those moments were the exception rather than the rule."
Nearing the height of his dominance in the group, Waters had become the only band member who could pen meaningful lyrics, and the band had relied on him solely for lyrics and the majority of the songs. Gilmour also denies that he had any objection to Waters' philosophies and politics turning up in his lyrics, but recognized they provided an opportunity for further dissention. "My absolute heroes were Bob Dylan and other people who expressed their philosophical and political ideas. If the political ideas being expressed by one are not the political ideas of another, you get into a slightly different minefield." As was his custom, Nick Mason tried to stay out of it but saw a "synergy" between the music and Waters' lyrics. "Animals" found the band relying on Waters more than ever, with him writing all the lyrics and nearly all the music. This marks a time when he moved from the ambiguity of the lyrics of "Dark Side of the Moon," and to an extent, "Wish You Were Here," to much more confrontational lyrics. "Pigs (3 Different Ones)" is a direct attack on specific people, and the other songs reflect the very dark tone of the album, which is part of the theme--based on George Orwell's Animal Farm. Waters claims he was "trying to push the band into more specific areas of subject matter, trying to be more direct. Visually, I was trying to get away from the blobs...there isn't much left for you to interpret."
Oddly enough, the Floyd's best concept album began with no concept, just three songs accumulated from the past few years. Halfway through the studio session, Waters realized he could use George Orwell's concept of people as being animals, and paralleled them in our social lives. David Gilmour remembered that "The Animals concept didn't come up until the album was about three-quarters finished. I don't think Roger had it in his mind before, but at some point he realized how close the lyrics were on those tracks, and he changed the lyrics about a bit on 'Dogs'...and 'Sheep'... It all obviously fitted together in his mind, coming to mean that. It is a good thing, in the end, having come to a collective decision, though. It knocks out some of the excesses which might otherwise appear from us as individuals." This seems to indicate Gilmour was no longer comfortable with each band member coming up with his own songs and trying to decide whose songs to include on the album, and how to piece it all together.
"We tended to think that if we threw ideas into the pot while we were all working together in the rehearsal studio, unless they were specific things, you didn't hang on too tightly--if songs came up, then you would split the credit equally. In later years, the lyric came to count for half, so the lyricist would get 50% of a track and the musicians would get 50%...our fights at the end of making a record to decide who had what percentage of each song were always the worst arguments we ever had… There are times when someone has done a certain amount of one song, but it's been substantially written by another person. One accepts not getting credited on that one, but gets maybe a slightly bigger credit on another." Waters viewed Gilmour's role in the band very differently. "He doesn't have very many ideas. He's a great guitar player, but he's not really a writer. However conscientious or hard-working Dave was, he would never actually write anything. In terms of what the records were about--they were my ideas and I wrote them. Dave particularly, but Rick as well, had major, important contributions." Interestingly, Gilmour remembers a time when Waters wasn't concerned at all with credits and royalties. "There was a period long after Dark Side of the Moon when he was advocating for a little while that we split the profits of tours and records equally between us, and all of our staff and everyone. It never quite came into fruition." Ultimately Pink Floyd put aside their differences--regardless of who wrote what, it was accepted that Waters would maintain the overall creative vision. As Gilmour recalled, "We were all very, very happy to have a driving force like Roger who wanted to push for these concepts."
So by the time Animals was developing, the chosen concept, by democratic methods or not, was that the album would center around Animal Farm. Essentially a fairy tale about corruption of power, Animal Farm uses Stalinist Russia as an allegory of what happens when human nature destroys good ideals. The story is rich in symbolism and the characters and events represent actual historical scenarios. In relation to "Animals," the pigs were the smartest animals and originated the idea of a rebellion against the farm's oppressive owner. Of course once they overthrew him, the pigs took it upon themselves to run the farm and began to abuse that power, just like the human owner did. They used the dogs as their secret police to enforce their hypocritical laws and keep the other animals in line. If any animal broke the rules or was considered a traitor to "animalism," the dogs would promptly kill them. The sheep were the mindless masses who followed the pigs' every whim, no matter how ridiculous or harmful they were. Yet contrary to Waters' lyrics, Orwell's sheep never understand what is happening to them and they continue to live in misery. This is a brilliant story and originally was intended as a warning for what might happen in post-war England. However, it is a universal lesson for any era or political situation when seemingly normal individuals abuse the trust and power that was given to them, inciting a rebellion. For the most part, Waters captures Orwell's spirit perfectly and applies it to Britain in the 1970s. If you haven't read Animal Farm, you are missing one of the best political satires ever written, and a modern-day classic. It is short and easy to read, and the ending is just as disturbing as Stephen King in his prime. Even if you don't read it for its political or literary value, it is an essential supplement to the Pink Floyd album.
Translated into music, in the eyes of Waters, you are either a dog, pig or a sheep. Dogs are the crafty cutthroats who travel in groups, in a pecking order, each one trying to pass the other to achieve success. Pigs are the overbearing dictators who have a great fear for what they don't understand, but claim to know what is best for everyone. They impose this on the sheep, who are the meek and obedient subservient masses of the world. They realize what has become of them and revolt, but are eventually put back in their place and taken advantage of again. It's human nature in a graphic display of our true inner selves, represented in animal form. Waters' lyrics dominate the album, although the music is brilliant as well. The album cover is one of the best ever, with Gilbert Scott's huge Battersea Power Station as the symbol for mankind's folly of constant labor and vain pursuits, surrounded by industrial train tracks, trash and coal. It has a very ominous and dark Orwellian feel, and evokes a sense of power.
Waters came up with putting a pig over the station, symbolizing greediness, but didn't want it to be artificially created. A giant pig was designed to be inflated and placed over the station, and was so big that the first attempt to send it up had to be halted because it was dark before it was blown up. There were forty photographers and a man with a rifle (should the pig fly away), but he was removed because of cost. The following day, the pig was launched, secured with ropes, but a huge wind blew the pig off the ropes and it flew off into the air. The pig flew off south of London, interloping in the flight paths of airplanes, and Heathrow Airport was called about a flying pig--one pilot who reported it to the control tower was even given a breathalyzer test! Radar contact diminished after 18,000 feet, and it finally crashed to the ground and was recovered and sent back for more photos. Even after all the effort to re-shoot the pig, they ended up superimposing a picture of the original pig shoot onto the picture of the power station. Still, it remains one of the greatest album covers of all time.
Recorded: November 1976 at Britannia Row Studios
Roger Waters: acoustic guitar and double tracked vocals
Even the band said he was much easier to work with and perhaps Gilmour knew this better than anyone. "Our working relationship remained very good even through making most of The Wall. There were many moments when we were really talking well together and told each other so. We had huge rows, but they were about passionate beliefs in what we were doing. Roger is a very intelligent and creative person and I am very stubborn and pig-headed, but I think I have a good musical sense. Sometimes he would be willing to sacrifice all sorts of musical moments to get his message across. Our roles were complementary, at least in theory. We recognized each other's strengths and weaknesses." The third line comes from the original version of "Sheep," called "Raving and Drooling," and stems from the phrase "and pigs might fly," meaning achieving the impossible. The Floyd certainly did just that with this incredible album.
DogsRecorded: March-December 1976 at
Britannia Row Studios
Roger Waters: bass, vocals, vocoder, tape effects
Dave Gilmour: guitar, vocals, double tracked vocals
Rick Wright: Hammond organ, Fender-Rhodes and Yamaha pianos, ARP String Machine synthesizer, backing vocals
Nick Mason: drums, percussion, tape effects
Guitar World: On the next Pink Floyd album, Animals, "Dogs" is the only song not written solely by Roger. What was your part in co-writing "Dogs" with him?
Gilmour: I basically wrote all the chords--the main music part of it. And we wrote some other bits together at the end.
GW: What did you play on that?
Gilmour: A custom Telecaster. I was coming through some Hiwatt amps and a couple of Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets--Leslie style cabinets that they used to make. I used to use two of those on stage along with the regular amps. That slight Leslie effect made a big difference in the sound.
This is the album's centerpiece. It began years before, when the band would play it during the summer of 1974, when it was known as "You Gotta Be Crazy." Waters recalled the writing process to be fairly straight forward: "Dave came up with a nice chord sequence, I wrote some words, and we carried on from there with You Gotta Be Crazy." The fact that they road-tested a lot of their material on audiences to find out what worked and what didn't is one of the things that made the Floyd so great in the 70's. The song was so good that little changed over the 3 years, making it the strongest track on the album. "Dogs" are overachieving back-stabbers who climb the success ladder any way they can, only to die at an old age of cancer, or to be dragged down by the very weight they used to need to throw around.
In Orwell's Animal Farm, the dogs have somewhat of a moral ambiguity attached to them. On one hand they are vicious thugs who keep the other animals down, but at the same time they are also victims of the pigs' tyranny. Yet they are the only other animals besides the pigs who profit from the animals' backbreaking labor. A dog isn't quite as privileged as a pig, but is the second highest animal on the food chain. This comes with a price, of course--the dog must commit terrible acts of brutality and intimidation to earn his keep. The dogs' real-life counterpart were groups like the NKVD--Soviet secret police, comparable to the Nazis' Gestapo. Their sole purpose was to identify and eliminate enemies of the state, and in Soviet Russia they were responsible for the imprisonment, torture and deaths of millions. This brings up the age-old question: should the dogs should be pardoned from their actions because they were only following orders from the pigs in charge? Staying true to the satirical fairy tale style, the dog characters in the book show no sense of morality about what they do.
Waters' dogs, however, seem to acknowledge they are a tool for the pigs' greed: "gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused--sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used…" It appears the dogs know what they are doing is wrong, but convince themselves it is a "dog eat dog" world and necessary for survival. Waters' dogs aren't violent thugs in the literal sense. They are corporate stooges for the selfish pigs who use them to do their dirty work and make them richer. Presumably they get their cut from the pigs' avarice and live comfortably until they retire. There they might try to forget their careers of evil: "in the end you'll pack up, fly down south, hide your head in the sand…" Another clue to the dog's persona is "you just keep on pretending that everyone's expendable and no one has a real friend"--showing that the dogs think everyone is as shifty and cutthroat as they are, but no one admits it. This is also prominent in the line "you believe at heart everyone's a killer"--the dogs are paranoid and always looking over their shoulders for another dog to attack them. They don't trust anyone and can't believe that people are capable of genuine kindness. The best line, however, is "just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer." This seems to be sung to the dog, in a frustrating last resort to try and tell the dog off. He's saying that no matter how successful and powerful the dog may become, he will die and he can't take any of his success with him. Perhaps the most striking part is that it appears like the singer wishes the dog would die.
"The stone" is the symbol for negativity and pessimism, and probably Waters used this as a way of dealing with his own personality traits, realizing how negative and pessimistic he had become. In the time between the Wish You Were Here tour and the Animals studio sessions, Waters' view of the world had become increasingly bleak. "I think the world is a very, very sad fucking place. I find myself at the moment, backing away from it all. I think these are very mournful days. Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse and the seventies is a very baleful decade." These feelings ostensibly surfaced in his lyrics for Dogs. The stone prevents you from enjoying life and leaves you stuck to wallow in your own bitterness, which Waters seemed to thrive on in other works such as "The Wall" and "The Final Cut." The song itself began with Gilmour's opening guitar chords, and it was given to Waters during the "Wish You Were Here" sessions for approval, but tossed aside because it didn't fit in with the album. At the time Gilmour was upset, but once they got in the studio, Waters had his mind on the big picture.
"We started recording and it got very laborious and tortured, and everybody seemed to be very bored by the whole thing. We pressed on regardless of the general ennui for a few weeks and then things came to a bit of a head. I felt that the only way I could retain interest in the project was to try to make the album relate to what was going on there and then, i.e. the fact that no one was really looking each other in the eye, and that it was all very mechanical… So I suggested we change it--that we didn't do the other two songs." Ultimately it became some of Gilmour's best guitar solo work, and Gilmour himself finds it one of his best pieces. Unfortunately, the best version never reached the public's ears because of an inadvertent error by Waters. Not accustomed to the new studio equipment, he accidentally erased Gilmour's best take of the solo, and the second version, although incredible, was not as good as the original. Gilmour attempted to mimic the growling and barking of a dog, and it is evident in the song. The actual dog noises were created by a tape of dog barks put through a Vocoder, which creates the sound into synthesizer chords, and then ran through a Leslie (rotating) speaker.
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Recorded: April-May 1976 at Britannia Row Studios
Roger Waters: bass, double tracked vocal
David Gilmour: guitar
Rick Wright: Hammond organ, ARP synthesizer
Nick Mason: drums
Orwell’s pigs symbolized tyranny (in this case, Stalin) but in general terms, a pig is anyone who lords power over someone who is supposed to be his equal. A pig will not hesitate to force his beliefs on somebody, even if he does not always practice what he preaches. Pigs possess a childlike selfish and egocentric quality that makes them think their ideas are right, and everybody else is wrong. A pig will choose for you because he doesn’t think you are intelligent enough to make your own decisions. He will never be satisfied with what he has; instead he must embezzle his way through life, taking what he pleases while telling others he is doing it for their own good. Yet these people are simply charades, and their overbearing nature and tendency to act like they are better than everyone else is really a product of their own fears in life.
The song has three verses and one pig in each verse. The first pig is a corporate pig, who emulates the pig mantra of greed, lies and exploitation. The second pig is a bitter woman Waters says represents Margaret Thatcher, whose conservative political views clash harshly with Waters' strong socialist politics. The third pig is Mary Whitehouse, leader of the National Viewers and Listeners Association at the time, and strong campaigner for censorship in Britain, which Waters was very much opposed to. Waters tinkered with the lyrics for six months, and feared using her name because of retaliation, but after seeing her in the papers week after week decided to put it in. She made nasty comments about Pink Floyd in the 60's, claiming they glorified drugs, sex and hedonism. "Why does she make such a fuss about everything if she isn't motivated by fear?" asked Waters. "She's frightened that we're all being perverted. I was incensed by Mary Whitehouse, as I am by all book-burners and bible-bashers: people who foster that sexual guilt and shame, who try and deny people any opportunity to fulfill their sexual destiny." The middle part of the song is Gilmour's talk box imitating a squealing pig, which uses voice to shape the notes, which makes the guitar "talk," or in this case, oink. This song contains some of Waters' most bitter and ingenious lyrics, most notably "you radiate cold shafts of broken glass," which is a gem in the Floyd lyric archives. There is a rich imagery of words here, "pig stain on your fat chin," "tight lips and cold feet," all evoke images of greedy, power-hungry...pigs.
Recorded: April, May and July 1976
Roger Waters: bass, vocals
David Gilmour: guitar
Rick Wright: Fender-Rhodes piano, Hammond organ
Nick Mason: drums
Waters wrote "Sheep" at home under the original title of "Raving and Drooling" at the same time that "You Gotta Be Crazy" appeared in 1974 shows. Waters thought the band should include some new material in the set list, and even changed the title (temporarily) to "I Fell On His Neck With A Scream," a very old Floydian style of song title. Waters re-wrote the lyrics for the album, creating a vision of ignorant, peaceful beings being led to the slaughterhouse, suddenly realizing what is wrong, then rebelling against their oppressors. Disturbingly, there is a parody of the 23rd psalm, performed by Nick Mason live, but on the album it is an unknown Floyd roadie blaspheming through a vocoder. The verse does contain a clever use of the words "with bright knives"--very descriptive indeed. The song's literal meaning is that of what could happen if the conditions in England did not get better, that the people might revolt against the "too conservative" government. Waters' own socialist beliefs are very prominent here, and was seen as a prophetic view of Britain in the 80's. Roger puts it this way: "Sheep was my sense of what was to come down in England, and it did last summer with the riots in England, in Brixton and Toxeth, and it will happen again. It will always happen. There are too many of us in the world and we treat each other badly. We get obsessed with things, and there aren't enough of things, products, to go 'round. If we're persuaded it's important to have them, that we're nothing without them, and there aren't enough of them to go 'round, the people without them are going to get angry. Content and discontent follow very closely the rise and fall on the graph of world recession and expansion." Although Gilmour was very pleased with his solo at the end (it is one of the finest Floyd riffs ever), he didn't include it on the '87 or '94 tours. He claimed he couldn't achieve the bitter vocals well enough, though he has hinted at it popping up on the next tour, if there is one. However, it seems like a poor excuse not to include an Animals song on Delicate Sound of Thunder or Pulse, because anyone who's heard the Pulse version of "Hey You" knows that Gilmour can scream out lyrics nearly as well as Roger could.
Recorded: December 1976
at Britannia Row Studios
Roger Waters: Ovation acoustic guitar, double tracked vocals