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Remixing 'Animals': How Pink Floyd's 1977 Album Set The Stage For Melodic Metal
After a three year delay, Pink Floyd's 'Animals' has been reissued. Drummer Nick Mason discusses how the album became the band's response to punk, and it inadvertently laid the groundwork for melodic metal.
When Pink Floyd released Animals in January 1977 amid the burgeoning punk movement. The band's 10th album is often described as the group's response to punk, but — intentionally or not — the atypically dark and aggressive album also lit the fuse for the eventual rise of melodic metal.
Musically and lyrically, Animals represented Pink Floyd at its most forceful and ambitious; the dreamy space-rock textures that characterized their breakthrough album The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and its followup, 1975's Wish You Were Here, were scaled back in favor of a harsher approach. Animals featured lyricist/bassist Roger Waters' most focused lyrics to date. Inspired in part by George Orwell's dystopian 1945 novel Animal Farm, the album presented an allegory in which all of humanity is characterized as pigs, dogs and sheep.
As a result, many saw Animals as the British group's take on the contemporary punk scene, a movement spearheaded in the U.K. by the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Clash and others.
With some reluctance and caveats, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason allows that punk did have some influence on the album. The group's previous albums had been created at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London — the same world-class studio used by the Beatles to record most of their work — which was populated with skilled engineers who followed strict rules; Mason chuckles as he describes them as wearing "smart white coats."
But by 1976, Pink Floyd had converted part of their equipment storage/rehearsal facility, Britannia Row, into a recording studio. There the band could work at its own pace, making its own rules. The Britannia Row studio was smaller and less sophisticated than Abbey Road, and that would be reflected in the sound of Animals. "Everyone was sort of looking at punk and thinking about doing things faster," Mason recalls. "Rather than settling into a two- or three-year project, it was, ‘Let's get on with it. Let's do it.'"
Yet Mason emphasizes that the punk rock that was happening all around the band didn't exert direct influence on the barbed character of Animals. "Were we particularly excited by [punk]?" he asks rhetorically. "No. Every now and again, there'd be something that would be interesting, but an awful lot of punk really wasn't of that great interest to us." He chuckles and adds, "It was all a bit too fast and noisy." (Mason was later tapped to produce Music for Pleasure, the second album by punk heroes the Damned, but emphasizes that "I learned far more from them than they did from me.")
Still, the tone and approach of Pink Floyd's late '70s release would inspire future artists, especially among the style that would come to be known as melodic metal. In the 1990s and beyond, Steven Wilson created a body of work that drew upon Pink Floyd as a primary influence. Working first as a solo project and later as a band, Wilson released 10 albums under the Porcupine Tree banner. While early Porcupine Tree explored sonic dreamscapes, by the time of 2005's Deadwing and its followup Fear of a Blank Planet (2007), the band had moved decidedly in the direction of melodic metal.
And while Wilson has always been inspired by a widely eclectic range of influences, his metal-leaning work bore the influence of Animals. He admitted as much in "Animals and Me," a 2020 essay for Prog Magazine. While Pink Floyd is often described as progressive rock, Wilson asserted that with Animals, the band moved beyond that genre. "There's nothing about it that's stereotypically progressive rock," he wrote.
Animals is often viewed as the beginning of the dominance of Roger Waters within Pink Floyd — he composed all of the record's lyrics and is credited with most of the music — though Wilson hears something else. "For me, it's [David] Gilmour's part; the guitar work on the album is the greatest of all, which is saying something." Throughout the record, Gilmour's always inventive and lyrical lead guitar work takes on an uncharacteristically angry tone, one in keeping with the album's dark, often pessimistic themes.
And such serious, weighty themes would become a foundational part of music by later melodic metal bands including Nine Inch Nails, Dream Theater and Tool. Maynard James Keenan is vocalist and songwriter for metal bands Tool and Puscifer, and credits Animals as an inspiration for both groups. "Pink Floyd, [and] specifically Animals, has had a huge influence on Puscifer and Tool," Keenan tells GRAMMY.com. "Not just because of the compositions, but also the approach to production and instrumentation."
That influence endures some 45 years after Animals' release. Keenan's more recent work continues to find inspiration not only from Waters' lyrics, but from the distinctive keyboard textures of Pink Floyd's Richard Wright. Keenan notes that like Animals, Puscifer's most recent release, 2020's Existential Reckoning "has the Arp Solina [String Ensemble] all over it."
When a who's who of progressive and metal artists collaborated on the 2021 album Animals Reimagined: A Tribute to Pink Floyd, two members of Dream Theater enthusiastically participated, underscoring their appreciation for the influential ‘77 album. Singer James LaBrie took the lead vocal on a reading of "Pigs (Three Different Ones)," and Jordan Rudess provided extensive keyboard work on "Dogs."
"The driving and hypnotic – while still rocking – nature of Animals made it a very unique album and source of inspiration to me," says Rudess. "That pulsing sound opened the door for so many; in our music we have proudly tipped our hats to the mighty Floyd many times."
Nick Mason agrees that there are some through lines connecting Pink Floyd's 1977 album with the more tuneful side of modern heavy metal. While taking mild issue with the term melodic metal ("I'm opposed to putting labels on anything," he emphasizes), he allows that Animals can be thought to fit that description. "If I was going to put a label on it," Mason says with a smile, "there's something quite nice about that one."
While Animals is neither punk nor metal, four and a half decades after its release the album can be seen as a kind of link between the two rock subgenres. In 1977, Pink Floyd was sometimes viewed as among the "dinosaurs" that punk hoped to sweep away. "I think the big thing that punk did that was really useful was [to take] the wind out of the sails of prog rock that had become so bombastic," Mason says.
The comparatively stripped-down aesthetic of Animals was in line with that kind of approach, and in the process it provided some musical cues for metal players to come. In his Prog essay, Steven Wilson made a similar point when writing specifically about Animals: "At their very heart, [Pink Floyd] have very simple songs, without unnecessary complexity, and I think that's given them a timeless quality," he wrote. And he – among many others – took those values to heart in much of his own work. "It wouldn't be overstating to say that Animals is responsible in many ways for the path that my career took," Wilson wrote.
And it continues to influence artists who make today's melodic metal. "Animals carved new ground for music production," agrees Dream Theater's Rudess. "And it has played an important part of all the rock that has followed."
Photo: Kelly Samson, Gallery Photography
Photo: ZIK Images/United Archives via Getty Images
15 Reissues And Archival Releases For Your Holiday Shopping List
2023 was a banner year for reissues and boxed sets; everyone from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones got inspired expansions and repackagings. Here are 15 more to scoop up before 2023 gives way to 2024.
Across 2023, we've been treated to a shower of fantastic reissues, remixes and/or expansions. From the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, to the Who's Who's Next, the list is far too massive to fit into a single article.
And, happily, it's not over yet: from now until Christmas, there are plenty more reissues to savor — whether they be mere vinyl represses, or lavish plumbings of the source material replete with outtakes.
As you prepare your holiday shopping list, don't sleep on these 15 reissues for the fellow music fanatic in your life — or pick up a bundle for yourself!
X-Ray Spex - Conscious Consumer (Vinyl Reissue)
Whether you view them through the lens of Black woman power or simply their unforgettable, snarling anthems, English punks X-Ray Spex made an indelible mark with their debut 1978 album, Germfree Adolescents.
Seventeen years later, they made a less-discussed reunion album, 1995's Conscious Consumer — which has been unavailable over the next 27 years. After you (re)visit Germfree Adolescents, pick up this special vinyl reissue, remastered from the original tape.
That's out Dec. 15; pre-order it here.
Fall Out Boy - Take This to Your Grave (20th Anniversary Edition)
Released the year before their breakthrough 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree — the one with "Dance, Dance" and "Sugar, We're Goin Down" on it — Fall Out Boy's Take This to Your Grave remains notable and earwormy. The 2004 album aged rather well, and contains fan favorites like "Dead on Arrival."
Revisit the two-time GRAMMY nominees' Myspace-era gem with its 20th anniversary edition, which features a 36-page coffee table book and two unreleased demos: "Colorado Song" and "Jakus Song." It's available Dec. 15.
Coheed and Cambria - Live at the Starland Ballroom
Coheed and Cambria is more than a long-running rock band; they're a sci-fi multimedia universe, as well as a preternaturally tight live band.
Proof positive of the latter is Live at the Starland Ballroom, a document of a performance at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, in 2004 — that hasn't been on vinyl until now. Grab it here; it dropped Nov. 24, for Record Store Day Black Friday.
Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark Demos
Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 3: The Asylum Years (1972–1975), from last October, is a terrific way to do just that; its unvarnished alternate versions strip away the '70s gloss to spellbinding effect.
Which is no exception regarding the Court and Spark demos, which got a standalone release for RSD Black Friday.
P!NK - TRUSTFALL (Deluxe Edition)
The dependable Pink returned in 2023 with the well-regarded TRUSTFALL, and it's already getting an expanded presentation.
Its Deluxe Edition is filled with six previously unheard live recordings from her 2023 Summer Carnival Stadium Tour. Therein, you can find two new singles, including "Dreaming," a collaboration with Marshmello and Sting. Pre-order it today.
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle (30th Anniversary Edition)
After his star-making turn on Dr. Dre's The Chronic, 16-time GRAMMY nominee Snoop Dogg stepped out with his revolutionary, Dre-assisted debut album, Doggystyle.
Permeated with hedonistic, debaucherous fun, the 1993 classic only furthered G-funk's momentum as a force within hip-hop.
Revisit — or discover — the album via this 30-year anniversary reissue, available now on streaming and vinyl.
As per the latter, the record is available special color variants, including a gold foil cover and clear/cloudy blue vinyl via Walmart, a clear and black smoke vinyl via Amazon and a green and black smoke vinyl via indie retailers.
Alicia Keys - The Diary of Alicia Keys 20
Alicia Keys has scored an incredible 15 GRAMMYs and 31 nominations — and if that run didn't exactly begin with 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, that album certainly cemented her royalty.
Her heralded second album, which features classics like "Karma," "If I Was Your Woman"/"Walk On By" and "Diary," is being reissued on Dec. 1 — expanded to 24 tracks, and featuring an unreleased song, "Golden Child."
The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set)
Fifty-seven years has done nothing to dim the appeal of 1965's The Sound of Music — both the flick and its indelible soundtrack.
Re-immerse yourself in classics like "My Favorite Things" via The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set), which arrives Dec. 1.
The box contains more than 40 previously unreleased tracks, collecting every musical element from the film for the first time, along with instrumentals for every song, demos and rare outtakes from the cast.
Furthermore, an audio Blu-ray features the full score in hi-res plus a new Dolby Atmos mix of the original soundtrack. And the whole shebang is housed in a 64-page hardbound book with liner notes from film preservationist Mike Matessino.
ABBA - The Visitors (Deluxe Edition)
With their eighth album, 1981's The Visitors, the Swedish masterminds — and five-time GRAMMY nominees — stepped away from lighter fare and examined themselves more deeply than ever.
The result was heralded as their most mature album to date — and has been repackaged before, with a Deluxe Edition in 2012.
This (quite belated) 40th anniversary edition continues its evolution in the marketplace. And better late than never: The Visitors was their final album until their 2021 farewell, Voyage, and on those terms alone, deserves reexamination.
Aretha Franklin - A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974
A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974 compiles her first five albums of the 1970s: This Girl's In Love With You, Spirit in the Dark, Young Gifted and Black, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), and Let Me In Your Life.
Each has been remastered from the analog master tapes. The vinyl version has a bonus disc of session alternates, outtakes & demos. Both CD and vinyl versions are packaged with booklets featuring sleeve notes by Gail Mitchell and David Nathan. Grab it on Dec. 1.
Fela Kuti - Box Set #6
From the great beyond, Fela Kuti has done music journalists a solid in simply numbering his boxes. But this isn't just any Kuti box: it's curated by the one and only Idris Elba, who turned in a monumental performance as Stringer Bell on "The Wire."
The fifth go-round contains the Afrobeat giant's albums Open & Close, Music of Many Colors, Stalemate, I Go Shout Plenty!!!, Live In Amsterdam (2xLP), and Opposite People. It includes a 24 page booklet featuring lyrics, commentaries by Afrobeat historian Chris May, and never-before-seen photos.
The box is only available in a limited edition of 5,000 worldwide, so act fast: it's also available on Dec. 1.
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (The Baskerville Edition) / Hounds of Love (The Boxes of Lost Sea)
Kate Bush rocketed back into the public consciousness in 2022, via "Stranger Things." The lovefest continues unabated with these two editions of Hounds of Love, which features that signature song: "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God.)
The Rolling Stones - December's Children (And Everybody's), Got Live If You Want It! And The Rolling Stones No. 2 (Vinyl Reissues)
These three '60s Stones albums have slipped between the cracks over the years — but if you love the world-renowned rock legends in its infancy, they're essential listens.
No. 2 is their second album from 1965; the same year's December's Children is the last of their early songs to lean heavily on covers; Got Live If You Want It! is an early live document capturing the early hysteria swarming around the band.
On Dec. 1, they're reissued on 180g vinyl; for more information and to order, visit here.
Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother (Special Edition)
No, it's not half as famous as The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall — but 1970's lumpy Atom Heart Mother certainly has its partisans.
Rediscover a hidden corner of the Floyd catalog — the one between Ummagumma and Meddle — via this special edition, which features newly discovered live footage from more than half a century ago.
The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
After endless fraternal infighting, the Black Crowes are back — can they keep it together?
In the meantime, their second album, 1992's The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, remains a stellar slice of roots rock — as a sprawling, three-disc Super Deluxe Edition bears out. If you're a bird of this feather, don't miss it when it arrives on Dec. 15.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
What Was 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' Almost Called? 5 Facts About Pink Floyd's Masterpiece Ahead Of The 50th Anniversary Boxed Set
Pink Floyd's 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' has maintained its philosophical, psychological and exploratory power for 50 years. Here are five off-the-beaten-path things to know about it.
Rarely do a mere prism and spectrum of light signify so much.
The cover of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon is recognizable by all denizens of the Western world, rock fan or not. For so many, it also opens a treasure box of associations: The themes of irth and death, greed and madness, and the relentless tick-tock of time. An ecstatic vocal aria. The specter of a departed Syd Barrett. The lunatic on the grass. Money: it's a gas.
After half a century of headphone-clad zone-outs and The Wizard of Oz re-rewatches, The Dark Side of the Moon transcends mere codification and ubiquity; it remains a work of uncommon perceptiveness, concision and ingenuity. And the arrival of a new boxed set invites listeners back through the gates of its mind-expanding, incisive, philosophical universe.
The Dark Side of the Moon — 50th Anniversary Boxed Set, out Mar. 24, encompasses a lavish array of ways to re-experience this classic rock staple. The set includes CD and gatefold vinyl of the newly remastered studio album, as well as Blu-Ray/DVD audio featuring the original 5.1 mix and remastered stereo versions, as well as a diamond-sharp Atmos mix.
Just as enticing is a CD and LP of The Dark Side Of The Moon - Live At Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974, which illuminates how an album that stretched the boundaries of the studio took on new dimensions on stage. When you see Roger Waters continue to stage ambitious, polemic productions across the globe, trace a line backward to Floyd's culture-shaking live show 50 years ago.
Roger Waters Sought Unprecedented Lyrical Clarity
The Dark Side of the Moon wasn't just a leap forward aurally, or conceptually: the band had never been so vivid and specific with their words.
"I think we all thought — and Roger definitely thought — that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect," Gilmour told Rolling Stone in 2003, referring to past albums like Obscured by Clouds and Meddle. "There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific. That was a big leap forward."
Thus, the band produced a work of thematic depth and concision, full of unforgettable one-liners like "All you touch and all you see/ Is all your life will ever be" and "There's someone in my head/ But it's not me."
Clare Torry Was Paid Just £30 For Her Vocal Performance
Despite the singer's lack of name recognition, millions and millions have heard Clare Torry's voice. Her cyclonic, wordless aria on "The Great Gig in the Sky" — they nixed a first attempt, partly on account of the word "baby" — is one of the most memorable parts of The Dark Side of the Moon.
So it might be surprising to hear that Torry was paid a standard rate of £30 for her work — and ended up suing the band in 2004 for a songwriting credit and lost wages. (The case was settled out of court.)
It Could Have Been Called Eclipse, With The Silver Surfer On The Cover
When a now-obscure band called Medicine Head released an album called Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd's desired title seemed under threat.
"We weren't annoyed at Medicine Head," Gilmour later said. "We were annoyed because we had already thought of the title before the Medicine Head album came out." But when Medicine Head's album failed commercially, the door was open to proceed as planned.
And, accordingly, while Pink Floyd desired the prismatic cover as soon as they saw it, the band had previously kicked around the idea of a Marvel superhero on the album sleeve.
"We were all into Marvel Comics, and the Silver Surfer seemed to be another fantastic singular image," Aubrey Power of art design group Hipgnosis remembered. "We never would have got permission to use it. But we liked the image of a silver man, on a silver surfboard, scooting across the universe. It had mystical, mythical properties. Very cosmic, man!"
The Band Performed The Album In Its Entirety A Year Prior To Release
Throughout 1972, the band performed a proto version of The Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics (its addendum at the time) in sequence. They also refined the song cycle as one continuous piece, with transitions at all, eventually landing on the continuum of music we know and love today.
That being said, there were significant differences in these nascent live versions — for example, "On the Run" was a guitar and keyboard jam, and "The Great Gig in the Sky" was hung on an organ solo, not a vocal solo.
There's A Beatles-Related Easter Egg Near The End
Paul McCartney, then finishing Wings' Red Rose Speedway, was among the various interview subjects interspliced into the finished project — but as his appearance was a comedic put-on against the band's wishes, they scrapped his appearance. But that doesn't mean there's no Fabs on The Dark Side of the Moon.
Near the end of "Eclipse," during the famous "Matter of fact, it's all dark" quip an orchestral version of "Ticket to Ride" can be faintly heard. This detail among so many others is more audible than ever in the new remaster — where the light shines through clearer than ever.