The Animals- The Animals (1964)
Updated: May 9
The Animals - The Animals
Released on Sept 1964
Recorded between January 22 and July 31, 1964
The Animals or Eric Burdon and the Animals are one of the most significant examples of a British Rock cover band that repackaged American blues and Rhythm Blues. The group formed in Newcastle in the early 1960s and was fronted by the very cool lead singer Eric Burdon. With their bluesy music and image, the group was known to be a little rough, a little wild, and a little bit like "animals." A key part of the British invasion, the Animals moved to London in 1964 and then traveled to New York to support their first album and singles, to appear on the famed Ed Sullivan Show.
About The Album
The self-titled debut The Animals featured the group's original lineup of Eric Burdon on vocals, Chas Chandler on bass, Alan Price on keyboards, John Steel on drums, and Hilton Valentine on guitar. Micky Most produced the record from the band Micky Most and the Playboys. Overall the Animal's sound at the time incorporated a heavy usage of Alan Prices' keyboard playing, which was one part blues, one part psychedelic sounds, and one part circus carnival. Also noticeable is the guitar work of Hilton Valentine, who was in no way virtuosic but had a particular ability to play some solid solos and lines. The genuine interest in the Animals came from the voice and overall presence of Eric Burton.
The Animals album included only one American single, "The House of The Rising Sun," which went to number one. Sadly the version released was a scaled-down 2:58 radio-friendly version, but later releases included the full 4:29 second version. The band wrote none of the songs on the album. Overall The Animals album was a key British invasion record and the perfect example of white English musicians repackaging the music of African American artists. This is not meant to be a criticism because I'm glad they did it!
Following the Album
Following this debut record, the Animals quickly started snarling. Still, they made a few more hits like "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "Boom, Boom." Burdon felt creatively restricted, and Price left because he was afraid to fly and for creative reasons. He did pretty well with his group Alan Price Set. Price was replaced by session master Dave Rowberry. The Animals then had a few more early hits like "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and "Bring it On Home To Me." Things basically fell apart by 1966. Burdon recorded a solo album Eric is Here and then reformed the group Eric Burdon and the Animals with a new, more psychedelic sound. Chas Chandler went on to manage Jimi Hendrix, one of the greatest rockers ever. The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994.
(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)
Track 1- "The House of The Rising Sun" This song made the album successful and launched the band's career. The Animals would have likely remained in their small Newcastle cages without it. Where does the song come from, you ask? No one knows the complete origin except that it is a freakin' old American folk song that was often recorded before the Animals gnawed on it.Melodically the song 16th-century ballad "The Unfortunate Rake" and the 17th-century folk song "Lord Barnard and Little Musgrave." The lyrics to "House of The Rising Sun" were said to be a song by American miners as early as 1905. The lyrics were first published in 1925 by musicologist Robert Winslow Gordon. The oldest known recording of the song is by bluesman Texas Alexander in the 1920s. Before the Animals, legends like Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Peter Seeger, Joan Byaz, Bob Dylan, and even Andy Griffith (Yeah, that nerdy guy from TV) recorded it. Of course, although American legends sang the song, English teens introduced the "House of the Rising Sun" to the masses. Lyrically the song is dark; it may be about a whore house, may be about a women's prison, or may be about a bad day in New Orleans.
The Animals first performed the song on tour in England with the legendary Chuck Berry. In a 2010 Songfacts interview, frontman Eric Burdon said: 'House of the Rising Sun' is a song that I was just fated to. It was made for me, and I was made for it. It was a great song for the Chuck Berry tour because it was a way of reaching the audience without copying Chuck Berry. It was a great trick, and it worked." The Animals version is noted for Valentine's opening arpeggiated guitar figure, the haunting organ lines and solos of Price, Steel's steady drum pattern, and the simplistic fundamental bass line only Chas Chandler. But it is Burdon's dynamic performance that sells the tune. In short, it's a classic! (*+)
Track 2- "That Girl Can't Help It" is a blues shuffle written by the white pianist/singer and songwriter who wrote the hit "Route 66". The tune was featured in the movie The Girl Can't Help It (20th Century Fox). "The Girl Can't Help It" was a hit for rock pioneer Little Richard in 1956. The song is about a hot girl who is a bit of a slut, and she can't help it. Apparently, she is in love with the narrator and everyone else. The girl can't help it, and you won't help singing the catchy chorus. Check out the sloppy but effective guitar solo.
Track 3- "Blue Feeling" was written by Scottish songwriter/guitarist/pianist Jimmy Henshaw. Yeah, I never heard of him, either. Basically, the narrator is feeling blue over a girl. Price plays some fine keys on the cut: nothing original here but straight-up bluesy rock.
Track 4- "Baby Let Me Take You Home" was written by Wes Farell and Bert Berns- who wrote a lot of hits like "Twist and Shout" and "Hang on Sloppy." The song was released as a single in the US, placing an unimpressive #57 on the charts. Basically, the singer wants to hook up with a girl. First, he asks to take her home, then to "dance" (read between the lines). She, of course, wants a commitment. She wants him to be "her man." He's all worked up, so he agrees. The song features a weird spy guitar intro, a breakdown section, and a gospel finale. (*)
Track 5- "The Right Time" is a blues classic credited to Jewish record executive Herman Lubinsky aka Lew Herman, who was apparently known as an arrogant prick. Before the Animals recorded the tune, blues pianist Roosevelt Skyes had a hit with the "The Night Time is The Right Time (same tune) in 1938, as did Big Bill Broonzy. Nappy Brown also recorded the tune in 1957, which inspired Ray Charles to record his classic version in 1958! The Animals do a solid job on the track. The song features a call and response between Burdon and the backup singers, who annoyingly sing "night and day" repeatedly. The lyrics talk about making love during the night and the day. Sounds great, if not a little exhausting! (*+)
Track 6- "Talkin' Bout You" Is a hard-driving rhythm and blues written by the legendary Ray Charles. In the song, the Animals showcase that they can clap and repeat "talking like you" a lot! They also incorporated the Isley Brothers' "Shout!" the final song of nearly every wedding. The music is characterized by the "clap "rhythm of Drummer John Steel and the walking bass patterns of Chas Chandler.
Track 1- "Around and Around" was written by the great early rocker Chuck Berry as a B side to his hit "Johnny B. Good" in 1959. Lyrically the song is about "rockin'," which was a code word for "screwin'." It's almost always about sex. Chandler plays a pretty hard-driving bass line at times, and keyboardist Alan Price plays some solid solos and compin' patterns. The tune is hard driving.
Track 2- "I'm In Love" was written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. The single was a number-one R&B hit for Domino in 1956. The song is about being in love, and the lyrics are as simple as you can get. A second grader could have written it. It's simple, and it works.
Track 3- "Gonna Send You Back To Walker" is a Johnnie Mae Matthews composition. Matthews, the "Godmother of Detroit Soul," was the first African American woman to own her record label. This is one of the better songs on the album. The song is about a girl from Walker, Texas, who has moved with her man to the big city. City life doesn't suit her or their relationship, so the narrator will send her back to Walker. Take notice of Valentine's guitar work; it's sloppy yet works.
Track 4- "Memphis, Tennessee," was written by Chuck Berry in 1958. The song is about a guy who calls an operator looking for Marie from Memphis. They lived together, but Marie's mother disapproved, so they split. In the beginning, it appears that Marie is the narrator's love, but as the song reaches its final verse, it becomes apparent that Marie is his six-year-old daughter.
Track 5- "I'm Mad Again" is a great slow blues by legend John Lee Hooker. The lyrics talk about helping out a friend in need, and after giving him a place to live and a car to borrow, he was also borrowing the narrator's wife! What a prick. Naturally, the narrator is "mad." He lists other people he is "mad like," including Al Capone, boxer Sonny Liston, and Cassius Clay, aka (Mohammad Ali). The narrator contemplates "drowning" or "shooting" his friend. No decision is made, but it's clear he won't invite his friend to Thanksgiving. The guitar solo and keyboard work on the track is passionate and filthy, but in a good way. (*)
Track 6- "I've Been Around" is another Fats Domino tune. The narrator has been around, and he finally "found a love that's true." The song is a little "bubblegummy." The tune is short, sweet, and lame. The Animals made a wrong choice with this one.
The Animals put the group on the road to stardom. Showcasing one of the most impactful and raunchier-sounding British Invasion bands. It also introduced the wider public to one of the greatest American folk songs, "The House of The Rising Sun." Awards (Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.)