Pink Floyd released their tenth studio album, Animals, in January 1977. It would ultimately prove to be the last featuring the classic line up of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright (Wright contributed to 1979’s The Wall only as a session musician and touring member). Although Waters wrote all the material (except “Dogs,” which was co-written by Gilmour), each member of the band contributes something unique to Animals.
Animals stands out as one of Pink Floyd’s most unusual and different albums. Although it does nod towards The Wall, it does not necessarily complete a trilogy with Wish You Were Here (1975) and The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973). Though Waters’ short (and yet powerful) acoustic piece “Pigs On The Wing” bookends the two sides of the album, in reality it features just three lengthy art rock pieces. As such, this album was not as commercially successful as their previous two. That said, it features some of their most overt political commentary in Waters’ trademark biting lyrics.
In 2018, longtime Pink Floyd collaborator James Guthrie was given the task of remixing the album from the original multitrack tapes. Guthrie first began working with the band during the making of The Wall, and has since created new 5.1 mixes of Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, and Waters’ 1992 solo album Amused To Death.
Though Waters first announced the remix was coming in early 2018, it never came to be. In mid-2020, fans learned that the delay was owed to a disagreement between Water and Gilmour over Mark Blake’s liner notes. This probably explains the lack of any notes in the package now.
The Blu-Ray disc includes Guthrie’s 2018 remixes in stereo & 5.1 surround, as well as an uncompressed flat transfer of the original 1977 stereo mix. The new stereo & 5.1 mixes are also available on a Super Audio CD from Analogue Productions.
The 2018 remix of Animals is quite different from Brain Humphries’ original 1977 mix. The album has a much fuller sound, which makes the quieter passages - especially during the “Pigs On The Wing” bookends - all the more startling and stark. Gilmour’s guitar and Wright’s keyboards are noticeably clearer than before. Mason’s drums, particularly the cymbals, are given much more prominence.
“Dogs,” the only track to feature Gilmour’s lead vocals, sounds absolutely incredible in the new mix. It is a strong vocal performance and his guitar comes screaming out of the speakers. Wright contributes strongly to the song with very interesting and creative synthesizer playing, especially during the extended instrumental section midway through the song.
Next is the very political and aggressive Waters showcase “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” Once again, Gilmour’s guitar is heard louder and cleaner in the 2018 mix. We then transition into “Sheep,” where Waters’ prescient lyrics examine the public’s blind acceptance of political leaders or even rock stars. One can see the clear conceptual throughline between this song and The Wall.
The 5.1 mix is absolutely incredible. Guthrie strikes a perfect balance between all five speakers, bringing out hidden details in every song. The animal sound effects in particular are extremely effective in surround. The album’s various effects and layered sounds, such as the crying guitars in “Dogs” or Waters’ vocal morphing into a synth in “Sheep,” lend themselves perfectly to the format. The sonic textures of the music come through with newfound clarity in 5.1, allowing listeners to hear the originality and creativity behind the classic album.
My only complaint would be the lack of liner notes and bonus material, such as the exclusive 8-track tape mix of “Pigs On The Wings” with Snowy White’s guitar solo or the seven-inch edits of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep.” The inclusion of photos is fine, but detailed notes about the recording process would have been an interesting addition to the reissue.
Fans will be debating this reissue for years to come. Though many remixes of classic albums wind up being inferior to the original versions, the 2018 mix of Animals actually enhances the brilliant album. The changes to the music are not subtle, but the sound quality is incredible and the end result maintains the genius of the source material.