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Animals is the eighth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd. Released in January 1977, it is a concept album that provides a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of 1970s Britain and presents a marked change from their earlier work.

Animals was recorded at the band's studio, Britannia Row, in London. Production of the album was punctuated by the early signs of discord that several years later would culminate in keyboardist Richard Wright leaving the band. The album's cover image, a pig floating between two chimneys on Battersea Power Stationmarker, was designed by bassist and writer Roger Waters, and produced by long-time collaborator Hipgnosis.

The album was released to mixed reviews in the UK, where it reached #2. It was also a success in the US, reaching #3 on the Billboard album charts. Although it scored on the American charts for only six months, steady sales have resulted in the album being certified four times platinum by the RIAA.


In 1975 the band bought a three-storey block of church halls at 35 Britannia Rowmarker in Islington. Their deal with EMI for unlimited studio time in return for a reduced percentage of sales had expired, and they converted the building into a recording studio and storage facility. Its construction took up most of 1975, and in April 1976 the band started work on what was to be their eighth studio album, Animals, at the new facility.

1976 was a period in Britain's history dominated by industrial action, racial violencemarker, high inflation, and high unemployment. During this period, a new musical movement known as Punk rock grew in popularity, in part a nihilistic statement against the prevailing social and political conditions, and also a reaction to the general complacency and nostalgia that appeared to surround rock music. Pink Floyd was an obvious target for punk musicians, notably Johnny Rotten, who wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt on which the words "I HATE" had been written in ink. Mason later stated that he welcomed the "Punk Rock insurrection", and viewed it as a welcome return to the underground scene from which Pink Floyd had grown (in 1977 he produced The Damned's second album at Britannia Row).


Although for this new musical movement Waters' success might have counted against him, his concerns with inequality, prejudice, and the social-political attitudes of the day, were not so far removed from those expressed by the new breed of rock bands. Animals is loosely based on George Orwell's political fable Animal Farm, where various castes in society are represented as animals; dogs as enforcers of the law, pigs as ruthless leaders, and sheep as the mindless pawns. Whereas the novella focuses on communism, the album is a critique of the worst aspects of capitalism, and although both advocate a democratic socialist ideal the album differs again in that the sheep eventually rise up to overpower their oppressors.

In Comfortably Numb (2008), author Mark Blake argues that "Dogs" contains some of David Gilmour's finest work—although the guitarist sings only one lead vocal, his performance is "explosive". The song also contains notable contributions from keyboardist Richard Wright, echoing the funereal synthesizer sounds used on the band's previous album, Wish You Were Here. "Pigs " is audibly similar to "Have a Cigar", with bluesy guitar fills from Gilmour, and references to pro-censorship campaigner (and one of the apocryphal pigs) Mary Whitehouse are evident in the lyric "house-proud town mouse". "Sheep" contains a modified version of Psalm 23, where a Lord who "maketh me to hang on hooks in high places and converteth me to lamb cutlets" (referring to the sheep of the title) is celebrated. Toward the end of the song, the eponymous sheep rise up and kill the dogs, but later retire back to their homes. The album is book-ended by each half of "Pigs on the Wing", a simple love song in which a glimmer of hope is offered despite the anger expressed in the album's three other songs. The song is heavily influenced by Waters' relationship with his then girlfriend.


The group had worked with engineer Brian Humphries on several occasions, and he was called upon to engineer the album. Recording took place at Britannia Row, from April to December 1976, and also into early 1977. Two tracks previously considered for Wish You Were Here—"Raving and Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy"—reappeared as "Sheep" and "Dogs" respectively. The two songs were reworked to fit the new concept, and were separated by a Waters-penned composition, "Pigs (Three Different Ones)". With the exception of "Dogs", which was co-written by Gilmour, all five tracks on the album were written by Waters, including "Pigs on the Wing". "Pigs On the Wing" was split into two, and since royalties were accorded on a per-song basis, Waters would receive more than Gilmour, despite "Dogs" occupying almost the entire first side of the album. The song contains references to Waters' private life—his new romantic interest was Carolyne Anne Christie (married to Rock Scully, manager of the Grateful Dead). Gilmour was also distracted by the birth of his first child, and contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed as much toward Animals as they had on previous albums. The album was the the band's first not to contain a writing credit for Wright. Although he did not make a significant contribution as he had on Wish You Were Here, he had some influence on the arrangement of the songs, including solo playing on "Dogs" and "Sheep".

The band had discussed employing another guitarist for future tours, and Snowy White was invited to the studio. After Waters and Mason had inadvertently erased a guitar solo that Gilmour had completed, White was asked to record a guitar solo on "Pigs on the Wing", which although cut from the vinyl release, was included on the eight-track cartridge version of the album. He later performed on the Animals tour. Mason recalled that he enjoyed working on this album more than he had working on Wish You Were Here.


The album was completed in December 1976, and work began on its cover. Hipgnosis, designer of the band's previous album covers, offered three ideas, one of which was a small child entering his parents' bedroom to find them having sex—"copulating, like animals!"—but unusually the final concept was designed by Waters. At the time he lived near Clapham Commonmarker, and regularly drove past Battersea Power Stationmarker, which was by then approaching the end of its useful life. The building was chosen as the subject of the cover image, and the band commissioned German company Ballon Fabrik (who had previously constructed Zeppelin airships) to build a porcine balloon (known as Algie). The balloon was inflated with helium and manoeuvred into position on 2 December, with a trained marksman ready to fire if it escaped. Unfortunately inclement weather delayed shooting, and O'Rourke had neglected to book the marksman for a second day. The balloon broke free of its moorings and ascended into the sky. It eventually landed in Kentmarker, and was recovered by a local farmer, reportedly furious that it had "apparently scared his cows." The balloon was recovered and shooting continued for a third day, but the image of the pig was later superimposed onto the cover photograph as the early photographs of the power station were considered to be better.

The album's theme continues onto the record's picture labels. Side one's label shows a fish-eye lens view of a dog and the English countryside, and side two features a pig and sheep, in the same setting. Drummer Nick Mason's handwriting is used as a typeface throughout the packaging. The gatefold features monochrome photographs of the dereliction around the power station.


Animals was released on 23 January 1977, and on 12 February in the US. It reached number two in the UK charts, and number three in the US charts. The release of the album followed Capital Radio's broadcast of The Pink Floyd Story two days earlier, and an evening press conference held at the power station two days before that. The broadcast was originally to have been an exclusive for the London-based station—who since mid-December had been broadcasting The Pink Floyd Story—but a copy was given to John Peel, who played side one of the album in its entirety a day earlier. NME called the album "… one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music to have been made available this side of the sun …", and Melody Maker's Karl Dallas wrote "… [an] uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific …" Rolling Stone's Frank Rose was despondent, writing "The 1977 Floyd has turned bitter and morose. They complain about the duplicity of human behavior (and then title their songs after animals—get it?). They sound like they've just discovered this—their message has become pointless and tedious."

Animals was certified by the RIAA as 4* Platinum on 31 January 1995.


Originally released on Harvest Records in the UK and Columbia Records in the US, Animals was re-released on CD in 1985, , and in the US in 1987. It was reissued as a digitally remastered CD with new artwork in 1994, and as a digitally remastered limited edition vinyl album in 1997. An anniversary edition was released in the US in the same year, followed in 2000 by a reissue from Capitol Records. The album was also included in the Shine On box set.


The album became the subject material for the band's In the Flesh tour, which began on the day of the album's release, in Dortmundmarker. The tour continued to Europe in February, the UK in March, the US for three weeks in April and May, and another three weeks in the US in June and July. Algie became the inspiration for a number of pig themes used throughout. An inflatable pig was floated over the audiences, and replaced with a cheaper, but explosive version. On one occasion the mild propane gas was replaced with an oxygen-acetylene mixture, producing a massive (and dangerous) explosion. German promoter Marcel Avram presented the band with a piglet in Munichmarker, only for it to leave a trail of broken mirrors and excrement across its mirrored hotel room, leaving manager O'Rourke to deal with the resulting fallout. The band were joined by familiar figures, such as Dick Parry, and Snowy White.

Internal conflicts threatened the future of the band. Waters had taken to arriving at each venue alone, and departing immediately. On one occasion, Wright flew back to England threatening to leave the band. The size of the venues was also an issue; in Chicagomarker, the promoters claimed to have sold out the 67,000 capacity of the Soldier Fieldmarker stadium, but Waters and O'Rourke were suspicious. They hired a helicopter, photographer, and attorney, and discovered that the actual attendance was 95,000, leaving a shortfall of $640,000. The end of the tour was a low point for Gilmour, who felt that the band had by now achieved the success it originally sought, and that there was nothing else they could look forward to.

Track listing


Pink Floyd

  • Pink Floyd
  • Brian Humphries — engineering
  • James Guthrie — remastering producer
  • Roger Waters — sleeve design
  • Storm Thorgerson — sleeve design (organiser)
  • Aubrey Powell — sleeve design (organiser), photography
  • Nick Mason — Graphics
  • Peter Christopherson — photography
  • Howard Bartrop — photography
  • Nic Tucker — photography
  • Bob Ellis — photography
  • Rob Brimson — photography
  • Colin Jones — photography
  • E.R.G. Amsterdam — inflatable pig design
  • Doug Sax — remastering
  • Snowy White — lead guitar on "Pigs on the Wing" (8-track cartridge version only)

Sales chart performance

Chart Peak
UK Albums Chart 2
U.S. Billboard 200 3
Austrian album chart 2
French album chart 171
Swedish album chart 3
Norwegian album chart 2
New Zealand album chart 1

See also





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