Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pink Floyd - Animals (1977)

Pink Floyd's concept album, loosely based on George Orwell's 'Animal Farm,' which compares people with three types of animals. Dogs as businessmen: aggressive, back-stabbing in their quest to get ahead, but ultimately inferior to their ruthless leaders, the Pigs. Caught in the middle, Sheep are the pawns in their power-struggle, unwittingly driven to the slaughterhouse by their own pacifism. Now, this all sounds like heavy stuff, but bear with me. Under all the grim overtones and angst is some sublime music, and some fabulous synthesizer parts to boot.

There are five songs on this album, including a short acoustic intro and outro. The remaining three are what we'll be focusing on here. First up is Dogs. Starting off with acoustic guitar and organ, it gradually becomes more driving and electric, with solos on guitar and synthesizer. On the refrain, an ARP Solina String Ensemble comes into play. It features again on Pigs and Sheep, lending a wistfulness to the dark nature of the music. The late Richard Wright played all keyboard parts and was responsible for some of the arrangements, despite not writing any of the music this time around.

The Solina is back again for the lengthy bridge section, where you can also hear sampled dog barking fed through a vocoder (unfortunately I don't know the make or model, but I'll put my money on the EMS Vocoder).

Dogs (part 1), courtesy of: unstoppable3rd

On the album, Dogs is a complete song, but because of YouTube's restrictions, we'll have to make do with it being split into two sections. We re-join the action with another great synth solo as the bridge concludes and verse three cuts in.

Dogs (part 2), courtesy of: unstoppable3rd

Pigs - Not quite so much synth action on this one, but the musicianship more than makes up for that. Listen out for Dave Gilmour's Talkbox on the middle section, and more of the ARP Solina.

Pigs (Three Different Ones), courtesy of: VjZman

Sheep - Lots more synth here, and the vocoder makes another appearance on the bridge. Note also the effect during the verses, where Roger Water's voice fades out to be replaced by a cutting synth note. 

Sheep, courtesy of: FabioSici

There you have it, a classic album from a classic band.