Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Animals

The Animals (1964)

The Story Of Bo Diddley/Bury My Body/Dimples/I've Been Around/I'm In Love Again/The Girl Can't Help It/I'm Mad Again/She Said Yeah/The Right Time/Memphis/Boom Boom/Around And Around  
As with so many of the British "blues explosion" blues rock bands, their first album was pretty much one of covers of old blues and r 'n' b standards - The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Them, John Mayall and The Yardbirds. This, from Newcastle's The Animals was no different. Indeed they are all covers apart from the somewhat odd The Story Of Bo Diddley which has singer Eric Burdon telling us all about meeting Bo Diddley and also the story of the developing British blues scene in an American accent, as opposed to his native Geordie. As with all those albums, it is not as good as later work, or indeed as good as the singles that were (as was the tradition at the time) left off the album.

Despite their grinning visages on the cover, it is actually quite a sombre, intense group of covers, exemplified by the mournful Bury My Body. Musically, it is excellent - full of Alan Price's swirling organ breaks and some great bass and crystal clear percussion. It is not as energetically vibrant as, say, the debut Rolling Stones album or that of Northern Ireland's Them. It does give off a bit of an impression of trying to show everyone that they were the real thing. The Kinks suffered a bit in the same way on their debut too. That said, it is instrumentally extremely sound. They certainly could play. 

Dimples has a great, often-used blues riff and an addictive feel to it.  I have to say, though, that the backing vocals on I've Been Amazed are quite bizarre. Price's piano on I'm In Love Again is impressive, however.


When they try to have fun on The Girl Can't Help It they sound a bit as if they are trying too hard to  be light-hearted. The serious mood of singles like the iconic House Of The Rising SunIt's My Life and Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood would seem to be far more suited to The Animals than slightly forced "fun" songs. On this album, the sombre, insistent blues of I'm Mad Again is far more suitable.

Was there a British blues band that didn't cover She Said Yeah? Actually, The Animals, apart from The Stones, were the only ones, it just seemed that way. Night Time Is The Right Time is a solid blues, with some again strange, uncredited, backing vocals. 

Memphis Tennessee is a somewhat perfunctory Chuck Berry cover that doesn't really ever take off, for me. Similarly John Lee Hooker'Boom Boom or Berry's Around And Around lack just a little something, although it has it be said that the latter is pretty good, with some excellent bass and keyboards.

Animal Tracks (1965)

Mess Around/How You've Changed/Hallelujah I Love Her So/I Believe To My Soul/Worried Life Blues/Roberta/I Ain't Got You/Bright Lights Big City/Let The Good Times Roll/For Miss Caulker/Roadrunner    

Just as The Animals' debut album had been a pretty intense collection of blues and r 'n' b covers, their second one is very similar , but somehow the intensity sounds more convincing on this one. The sound is a punchy, muscular mono and it is superb.
Tracks like Eric Burdon's deep, bluesy interpretation of Chuck Berry's How You've Changed and the sombre, blues-drenched I Believe To My Soul are indicative of the serious mood of the album. Talented keyboardist Alan Price would leave after this album, and they would miss him, because on this, and on the debut his ability shines most brightly. 

The jaunty Hallelujah I Love Her So is enjoyable, but Mess Around is the sort of counterfeit "fun" that just doesn't really suit The Animals.

Worried Life Blues is probably the most authentically-delivered blues on the album and it features a House Of The Rising Sun organ from Price, throughout, and some killer blues guitar too, from guitarist Hilton Valentine

Roberta is an upbeat bit of boogie-woogie that does work, certainly more than the irritating Mess AroundI Ain't Got You is a lively bluesy rocker, with some more convincing guitar.

Bright Lights Big City (also covered by Them) has a We Got To Get Out Of This Place organ riff at the beginning before it launches into a rocking number. Price delivers a masterful organ solo in the middle, too. It is one the album's best cuts. 

Their cover of Let The Good Times Roll doesn't really convince, however, it sounds more like a bit of studio fun. 

For Miss Caulker sees a return to some copper-bottomed blues. It is an Eric Burdon original. Who was Miss Caulker and why did she leave him for fourteen long days? I guess we'll never know. She is not actually mentioned in the song.

Roadrunner is a lively end to what had been a considerably more convincing album than its predecessor, but one is still left with the impression that it was The Animals' singles on which they really shone.

The cover picture, incidentally, is a somewhat bizarre one that sees the group dressed up like a group of WWII Yugoslav partisans about to blow up a railway line.

Complete Animals

This is not really a Complete Animals, actually. It covers all the tracks on the first two albums - Animals and Animal Tracks. The sound is in glorious, punchy, crystal clear booming mono. The bluesy intensity of this seminal British r 'n' b band is showcased superbly, however, particularly the keyboard talents of Alan Price and the versatile blues vocals of Eric Burdon. Guitarist Hilton Valentine was an underrated member of the group too, contributing some impressive blues guitar throughout. The cover picture, which was also used on Animal Tracks, is a somewhat bizarre one that sees the group dressed up like a group of WWII Yugoslav partisans about to blow up a railway line.

The great hit singles from the same era are included too - the iconic House Of The Rising SunDon't Let Me Be MisunderstoodWe Got The Get Out Of This Place and It's My Life plus their 'b' sides, all of which are excellent. The group really came into their own on these songs. The albums were nearly all made up of Chuck Berry and old blues covers, with was de rigeur for the British blues bands of the time. That is not to say that the tracks are not delivered with a musical competence, attack, verve and intensity.

The Animals were up there with The Rolling StonesThe YardbirdsThemJohn Mayall and The Kinks in the vanguard of the mid-sixties British blues explosion. Their contribution and influence cannot be under-estimated. This compilation is an ideal way of catching them at their very best.

Check out some of Eric Burdon's fine solo work here :-


  1. I also wondered too why the early albums by The Animals and the other big groups of the time were so different than the hit singles they had. I think you're right that all those Blues covers were just the thing to do at that time. But it's always their worst stuff. Even The Who. The cover songs all these groups had on the early albums arent really them. There's nothing of their own personality. It was like somebody else or something. Anyway, I love The Animals. All their big hits are just unbeatable. Even the later hippie psychedelic stuff like Sky Pilot or San Franciscan nights are pretty good. I've only listened to the first couple albums once or twice but didn't like them that much. I really don't know them that well. I should listen to them again cuz I don't remember them that well. But I do listen to their compilation a lot.

  2. So many UK groups went down the blues road - Them, The Who, The Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds etc. As it happens I like the stuff but I know what you mean.

    I reviewed some late sixties Eric Burdon stuff containing Sky Pilot etc too.

  3. It wasn't awful or anything but I just think their own material was so much better. Even at the very beginning of their careers Pete Townsend or Ray Davies or the Stones wrote better material than the songs that they used to cover. From the very start they were great writers. I think so anyway. I could be wrong though.

  4. Correct. The same applies to The Beatles and their rock'n'roll covers - what a mess they made of Roll Over Beethoven!

    You're up early today!

  5. I have trouble sleeping so I'm always up at that hour. I usually sleep just a couple hours after work and then I'm up all night. And I don't like watching TV that much so I'm usually on the internet cuz what else is there to do in the middle of the night?

  6. My reviews will help send you to sleep! I was once accused of writing boredom-inducing reviews on Amazon.

  7. I wouldn't feel too bad about what the people on Amazon think. They probably think that anything with multi-syllable words is boring. LMAO. Most of the reviews on Amazon go like this: "It arrived on time and it was in good condition." lol

  8. Yeah, the Beatles early cover versions were mostly horrible. Not only Roll Over Beethoven but also Rock and Roll Music. But I never thought they were very good songs in the first place. A couple more are You've Really Got A Hold On Me, The Shirelle's Baby It's You, the Goffin-King Chains, and A Taste of Honey. But they did have one really great one. Which would be Twist and Shout which is even better than the original. I think it's one of their greatest early records, in my opinion. I think they did an excellent job on that one.

  9. Actually, The Rolling Stones did better on cover versions. Time is on My Side is one of my top 10 Rolling Stones songs. Fantastic. And also Not Fade Away is great too. There's even a couple more.

  10. Down The Road Apiece is one of my favourites.

  11. I'm convinced The Beatles' Roll Over Beethoven has two missed guitar notes at the beginning.

    The Beatles Twist And Shout is a good one, but I prefer The Isley Brothers. Springsteen does it great live.

  12. Re: Amazon - or, "the album is great but mine arrived with a crease at the top corner of the CD sleeve, therefore I give it one star" or "Bob Dylan should retire, why doesn't he do stuff like "Like A Rolling Stone" anymore?" etc etc.

    Last week I got to #5 in the UK Amazon reviewers list. Myself and Mark Barry (who recently turned up on Aphoristical's site) are the only music reviewers in the top batch. The rest of them review gadgets they are given free. I don't put much up on there anymore. Just the occasional new release. Mark's stuff is great by the way, but he is far more of a statistics/facts and figures man than me. I write from the heart and to hell with statistics.

  13. UK Amazon is something different than regular Amazon? I'm gonna look at your reviews. Do you go by the same name or a different name?

  14. Yes, we have our own chlorine-free Amazon ( thank you very much! I go by the same name - there is only one Punk Panther. The reviews are pretty much the same without the occasional profanity.