Pigs have flown… again! Animals by Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd - Animals 2018 remix album cover

With the 2018 remix of Pink Floyd’s Animals album finally being released to the public, it’s time to look back at the time when pigs flew

 

Firstly, who is Pink Floyd? 

Pink Floyd is a progressive rock band formed in the late 60s in Cambridge, England. They’re well known for being one of the pioneers of psychedelic rock, using revolutionary compositions and philosophical lyrics, tackling subjects such as mortality, time, and mental illness. They were an album-focused band, who wrote almost exclusively concept albums. They started off with Beatles-Esque singles, moving onto avant-garde albums with long, space-themed instrumentals (space rock), before settling on more modern-themed albums. 

 

Historical context of Animals

The year is 1977, England. The Punk movement had been on the rise for the past couple of years with bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash topping the charts. Pink Floyd’s psychedelic rock had been losing popularity, being too posh and ignorant: their music was complex, pretentious, and didn’t tackle socio-political topics like the punks did. They were the establishment the punks were fighting against, with Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols famously leading the way with his „I hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt. 

Naturally, this had a huge impact on Floyd’s music. Following Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side Of The Moon, their best-selling album of all time, their new album Animals went in a completely different direction. Gone was the melancholic and philosophical aspect of their soft, glassy sound and lyrics, being replaced by a more aggressive, raw, and critical piece. 

Animals is a concept album, like all their past work, meaning that all the songs on the record belong to a certain concept; they need to be played one after the other, in the way the band intended it. Concept albums essentially consist of one musical piece divided into multiple tracks.

Pink Floyd - Animals original album cover.

Yes, that is a flying pig.

 

The album’s content 

The forty-minute-long album contains five tracks: 

  • Pigs on the wing (part 1)
  • Dogs
  • Pigs (three different ones)
  • Sheep
  • Pigs on the wing (part 2)

The album is loosely based on George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm. Likewise, Pink Floyd’s Animals divides society into different classes, which are represented by certain animals, but instead of describing and criticizing the Russian Revolution and the totalitarian regime of the USSR, the album criticizes capitalist alienation and the political status of 1970s Britain.

Animals divides society into three classes: the dogs, the pigs and the sheep. The dogs depict the middle class, who are losing their sanity while trying to climb up the corporate ladder, neglecting their feelings and values, while the pigs, like in Orwell’s novel, represent the politicians. The song Pigs (Three Different Ones) is essentially a roast of three politicians of 1970s Britain, even name-dropping one of them, Mary Whitehouse, a hard-line conservative activist, and reactionary. With all that being said, the song is general enough to be used against any politician one may despise. The lower class is presented in the song Sheep, which portrays the workers, the followers, and the exploited masses.

Even if we look past the Orwellian theme of the record, the songs still bring plenty of emotion and character to the table. The lyrics in Animals are a prime example of Roger Waters’ creative genius: although the individual tracks are very specific when it comes to the topics they tackle and the social groups they refer to, they are still general enough to be open for interpretation. You will be surprised to see how many levels you will relate to them; it takes multiple listens to experience the record fully. 

The other two songs, Pigs On The Wing parts 1 and 2 are the album’s opening and closing tracks. They are softer, one-minute-long acoustic pieces that tie the whole album together. They are a love song split in half dedicated to the wife of Roger Waters, the band’s lyricist. 

The three main songs, Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), and Sheep, make up what is essentially a protest in musical form. An entire journey filled with frustration, rage, and hope, presenting the defunct and destructive British capitalist society, all confined in three very different musical arrangements. From a bluesy, guitar-oriented progressive rock epic to a folk-infused punk track, Animals has every right to be recognized as a highlight of Pink Floyd’s classic era.

 

  

"Angie", the pig flying away from the

Battersea Power Station while the band

    was shooting for the album cover

So, if you’re feeling nostalgic, go out and grab yourself a vinyl copy, or a CD or find your nearest headphones, open your streaming platform of choice and enjoy one of the most unique albums of all time, while watching for pigs on the wing.