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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

(Columbia, 1977)

I'm sorry, new artists of 2008. Grammys and American Music Awards, you're wasting your time giving meaningless achievements. The album of the year ain't anything newly recorded but a somber British collection released 31 years ago.

Of course, you will say "you gotta be crazy", the opening line of "Dogs," after I claim this. But seriously, Roger Waters was either a prophet or the situation in the U.K. was very similar in 1977 to what the U.S. is going through now. Or maybe it's just human nature to act like either like dogs, pigs or sheep, as George Orwell told in
The Animal Farm. Plain human nature.

was trashed by Rolling Stone when it came out because they were expecting a continuation and an improvement of the Spatial Melancholy of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. Animals isn't about missing Syd Barrett's crazy antics and genius creativity by critizicing the Music Industry. It's about the failure of something bigger: the brutal and unaccountable capitalism and, now with the exposure of nasty corporate tactics and unemployment on the rise, the record is a friendly reminder that life can be a bitch.

This statement maybe has been the truth since the birth of the Industrial Revolution. Roger Waters wrote about the lack of support between co-workers, the ruthlessness of high-up management and how everybody, ultimately, is someone's lackey. When the system was working, these statements were considered depressing but ineffectual. Now that people are being laid off, lost their homes and realized they've been poor almost all their lives without knowing it, they come to their senses: their lives need a make-over, and the wall of lies needs to be tore down.

The brutal truth is that Pink Floyd released this album in 1977, not last September. Way back in '77 there was a Freddy Mac, a Sally Mae, a Washington Mutual, an AIG, and of course there was a Dow Jones index monitoring the U.S. economy. But the system's well oiled wheels that were turning AOK for most people in England were failing and a big recession was brewing.

The core of the story is about a warning. Dogs and Pigs have been doing shady business, keeping Sheep under their power, and once the later realize that religion and fear kept them oppressed, they uprise and kill the dogs. Unlike the 2000's, they were expecting things to be solved in a more violent way in the seventies. Dogs are businessmen, greedy and nasty, capable of murdering their own to keep the same amount of meat coming. They will do anything to keep the maximum profits possible coming, and that includes killing other dogs too.

Pigs are the politicians, greedy as well and living off people's taxes (the term
pork is not a coincidence, same with the inflatable pig flying over the defunct Battersea power station) and the sheep are, well, everybody else: and after the sad keyboards of Richard Wright accentuates their status of the sheep's miserable lives, their rebellion is all of a sudden celebrated with a repeating electric guitar riff by David Gilmour in a major, triumphant key, coda-ing to the inevitable end.

Notice the songs aren't about animals, but people's behavior. The words "pig" and "dog" aren't heard except in the opening and closing tracks, an acoustic guitar/ vocal performance by Waters called "Pigs On The Wing". In these two songs Waters indicates that love and companionship are the only things that really have any value in this world. Like we never knew it.

It turned out that the songs of
Animals were actually out-takes of the Wish You Were Here sessions. Songs Roger Waters was working on by himself and didn't have a place in the magnificent Syd Barrett tribute. By then Waters had took control of the band completely. It's actually not a bad thing he decided to work on them for a few months supervising his, ehem..., sheep. Gilmour, Wright and drummer Nick Mason didn't have any input in the creative process, they just followed Water's orders and they did a great job, but this album marked the end of the collaborative process that gave us a trio of essential LPs between 1971 and 1975.


Anonymous said...

pink floyd way ahead for the time ,spot on with your words :

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