Tuesday, 1 November 2016

"Animals" by PINK FLOYD (September 2011 EMI 'Discovery Edition' CD Remaster 'AND' January 2016 Pink Floyd Records CD 'Reissue' Using The 2011 Remaster) - A Review By Mark Barry...







"...Born Into A House Full Of Pain..."

Despite (or perhaps because of) a musical landscape utterly blown open by the sheer violence and life-by-the-throat nature of Punk – good old misery guts Roger Waters of Rock Dinosaurs PINK FLOYD didn't seem to notice nor give a rat’s ass.

Recorded in 1976 and then released into a poisonous British landscape in January 1977 on Harvest SHVL 815 – even its dower Battersea Power Station 'industrial monolith' artwork seemed as grime-grubby as the portentous contents within where our cheery chappies blathered on about Orwellian things like Pigs and Sheep and the occasional Dog to the backdrop of an immaculately recorded guitar. It's coming from the sky – we're all going to die – nice. But none of that stops me from admiring the 2011 James Guthrie and Joel Plante Remaster on this more acidic of Floyd albums – relaunched January 2016 on Pink Floyd Records – the lads now just as corporate as the machine they so raged against nearly 40 years ago.

"Animals" remastered on CD is a huge improvement over the LP original – an album that sported a hard card inner sleeve itself inside a gatefold cover and has for years been notoriously difficult to get a good vinyl pressing of. This CD is 'massive' – and for all the right reasons – beautiful clarity that's made me reassess my loathing of both it and the 'the system is killing the kids' knob that followed – 1979's double "The Wall". Here are the newly floated Piggies...

UK re-released 8 January 2016 – "Animals" by PINK FLOYD on Pink Floyd Records PFR10 (Barcode 5099902895123) is a straightforward 5-track 2016 reissue CD using the Remaster from 2011. It's once again housed in a gatefold card digipak, has a stickered sleeve (on the outer shrinkwrap) and 12-page colour booklet (41:44 minutes).

The original version of this Remaster was released 26 September 2011 as a 'Discovery Edition' single CD on EMI/Harvest 50999 028951 2 3 (Barcode 5099902895123) – this 2016 version on Pink Floyd Records uses that 2011 remaster and the same artwork. The 'Discovery Edition' sticker is gone as is the horrible 'green Ds' reinvented CD artwork that came with the 2011 issue – that's thankfully been replaced on the CD with the Side 1 'Dog' label artwork of the original LP. The 'Sheep and Pig' label of Side 2 is nowhere to be seen.

1. Pigs On The Wing 1 (1:26 minutes)
2. Dogs (17:05 minutes)
3. Pigs (Three Different Ones) (11:26 minutes) – Side 2
4. Sheep (10:20 minutes)
5. Pigs On The Wing 2 (1:29 minutes)

PINK FLOYD was:
ROGER WATERS – Bass, Guitar and Lead Vocals
DAVID GILMOUR – Lead Guitar and Vocals
RICHARD WRIGHT – Keyboards
NICK MASON – Drums

Mastered by JAMES GUTHRIE and JOEL PLANTE at Das Boot Recording Studios in Tahoe in California in 2011 - the original 1st generation master tapes have been given a thorough going over (Guthrie is a Sound Engineer associated with the band since 1978). In fact - each song feels like these experts have spent a staggering amount of time worrying over every single nuance - because the audio result is truly impressive. That remaster has been reused for the January 2016 reissues.

Essentially three long pieces of music (17, 11 and 10 minutes) bookended by the short one-and-half minute acoustic strums of "Pigs On The Wing" Part 1 and 2 – the Audio improvement is immediate on hearing the opening. This is a beautiful remaster and when we enter the Waters/Gilmour written "Dogs" and its various Guitar-Solo parts – you're clobbered with the Production values Floyd and Engineer BRIAN HUMPHRIES brought to the original 1976 recordings (done at Britannia Row Studios in London). When Waters sings the verse beginning with "...and after a while you can work on points for style..." – the band kicks in, as does Gilmour's fabulous axework that makes the whole seventeen minutes so edgy. You can hear this version. The lyrics are incredibly bleak – old men dying of cancer – people born in a house full of pain – souls trying to shake of the creeping malaise. And when those dogs do start barking and Richard Wright gets a chance to make his keyboard presence felt – the effect is brilliant – ably supporting Gilmour as he rips into his Strat for the first of many solos.

Side 2 opens with treated piggy grunts and very clear Bass and Keyboard parts before Gilmour flicks that guitar on "Pigs (Three Different Ones)". I can never work out if Roger Waters blatantly vicious attack of England's Mary Whitehouse and her moral-crusading is either smart thinking or a petulant child with too much money barking at an easy target. 
And when he sings "...ha ha charade you are..." or "...Mary you're nearly a treat...but you're really a cry..." - he sounds like a wordsmith who can't get his words out. 

But there's absolutely no doubting the clarity of the Remaster and when it breaks down into more Pig noises and that slow Guitar strum - the rhythm instruments are better than ever – and that wild soloing towards the end is great. Many have commented on the similarity between Meddle’s "One Of These Days" and Animal’s "Sheep" - that same backbeat driving the song on. And it ends on the second variant of "Pigs On The Wing" – essentially a slightly different re-run of Part 1.

Even now I can understand why Punk Rockers (also enjoying a 40th Anniversary or two) despised Pink Floyd and "Animals" – it still reeks of establishment supposedly ribbing itself. But that aside – the CD Remaster is a thing of wonder after all these years of less than great originals and half-assed reissues on newer formats.

Fan – or just curious - "Animals" on CD is a must buy. Apple (who are finally going to corporate the Battersea Power Station into a multi-media selling powerhouse) will be pleased...

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