How did Pink Floyd evolve from the sublime introspection of Dark Side of the Moon to the madness and despair of The Wall six years later? David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Roger Waters are In the Studio to explore the dark, ominous, yet vitally important transitional musical missing link, 1977’s Animals, an album that I played that February with great anticipation. After all, the two Pink Floyd predecessors, Dark Side… and Wish You Were Here, were on their way to selling 23 million and 6 million copies, respectively, just in the U.S.Animals, though, was cynical, agitated, downright venal in places, Roger Waters’ vented emotions frozen in time without the luxury then of The Wall‘s explorations of Waters’ troubled childhood past for context, nor his future for resolution. Listening to Animals upon its release was the musical equivalent of suddenly coming upon a car crash and being aware immediately that serious injury had occurred. The listener desperately wants to call for help, but who are we to notify?
The original sound of the Animals disc was as dark and murky as Roger Waters’ vision of humanity, and I must confess that the combination of only three lengthy main songs,“Dogs”, “Pigs”, and “Sheep”, with that thick bass-heavy sonic presentation, kept Animals off of much of American rock radio then. With the close-miking technique of the musical instruments so popular then, the resultant sound of Animals can be startling today with the latest remastering, like finding a pristine black pearl perfectly preserved in the muddy bottom of the stream of time. With hindsight, it is clear that Pink Floyd’s Animals and its subsequent tour was the lynchpin between the sublime Dark Side…, the melancholy Wish You Were Here, and the creeping numbing isolation of The Wall, brought on by superstar success. –Redbeard