The Animals – ‘Animal Tracks’ (1965 / 2022 reissue)

Uncategorized October 6, 2022

The Animals – ‘Animal Tracks’ (1965 / 2022 reissue)

The third of four ABKCO reissues documenting The Animals’ early US albums in their mono versions ‘Animal Tracks’, originally released in September 1965, was another mix of American blues and R & B covers, with a dash of Brill House pop and a couple of Eric Burdon/Alan Price originals thrown in for good measure.

With this album The Animals’ sound evolved, gaining a harder edge. The album reached only #57 on the Billboard Hot 200, despite containing two Top 20 and three Top 30 US hit singles, and sadly would be the last long player to feature Alan Price and John Steel as members of the band.

The album opener Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ has become an iconic tune and was immensely popular with US Armed Forces G.I.’ s during the Vietnam War. The song was intended for The Righteous Brothers, but Mann, having gained a recording contract of his own, wanted to release it himself instead. In the end, record executive Allen Klein gave the song to Mickie Most, The Animals’ producer, and the rest is history. The tune features a strong vocal effort by Burdon, a thundering bass line by Chas Chandler and strong performances by guitarist Hilton Valentine and organist Dave Rowberry, Price’s replacement. The song was recorded in two versions with slightly different lyrics at the beginning of the second verse of the US and UK releases. With an unforgettable riff the track hit #13 in the US and #2 in the UK. Price’s electric piano and Valentine’s twanging guitar solo are prominent in ‘Take It Easy Baby’ which had been the b-side of Burdon and Price’s ‘I’m Crying’. Burdon’s vocals are again to the fore of the band’s cover of Sam Cooke’s classic ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ with Price adding a piano solo on the #32 US and #7 UK charting 45. The Burdon/Ellas McDaniel penned ‘The Story Of Bo Diddley’ has an organ intro by Price to complement its “shave and a haircut, two bits” Bo Diddley beat in the biographical number that runs nearly six minutes. Side two of the LP begins with ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ with its familiar Valentine intro and Burdon vocals supported by Price’s organ. Burdon’s plaintive vocals drive the tune which peaked at #15 in the US and #3 in the UK. ‘I Can’t Believe It’ the b-side of ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ is an R & B number written by Burdon with Valentine adding power chording and Rowberry organ accents. ‘Club-A-Go-Go’ the Burdon/Price b-side of ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ is a rollicking piano driven rocker a la Jerry Lee Lewis, with Price and Valentine soloing on piano and guitar. ‘Roberta’ is another piano based rocker, written by Al Smith and John Vincent, with the group showing their vocal harmony abilities and Valentine adding a guitar solo to the mix. ‘Bury My Body’ is a heavy R & B number with Price’s organ and Burdon’s vocals front and center, Chandler’s heavy bass line building to a Valentine and Price guitar/organ interlude with Steel pounding out the beat. Album closer ‘For Miss Caulker’ is a Burdon penned boogie woogie number with Chandler and Steel beating out the rhythm, Price’s piano again reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis. The CD version of the reissue adds five bonus tracks. ‘Roadrunner’ is a showcase for Valentine’s Bo Diddley lead line (he did write the tune after all), with Price’s organ supporting. But it’s Valentine emulating Bo’s classic, original 1960 riff as his guitar roars and soars. ‘Don’t Want Much’ offers more heavy R & B with Price and Valentine contributing memorable solos on organ and guitar. The Animals’ cover of Carl D’Errico and Roger Atkins’ ‘It’s My Life” is propelled by Chandler’s bass riff and Valentine’s 12-string guitar with Rowberry adding organ. As an aside, composer Atkins says Burdon confused the lyrics by singing “show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime” rather than “sure I’ll do wrong, hurt you some time” that Atkins had written, a mistake which has been perpetuated by cover versions ever since. The reissue closes with Burdon’s ‘I’m Gonna Change The World’ an opportunity for Valentine and Rowberry to display their prowess on lead guitar and organ with Burdon howling vocals over the top as Chandler and Steel display a rock solid rhythm section, Rowberry and Valentine again delivering stunning solos as the song and collection play out.

As with the previous two reissues in this series the 180 gram vinyl version of ‘Animal Tracks’ uses the 2013 tape transfer by Peter Mew, mastering by Adam Ayan and lacquer cut by Carl Rowatti, with liner notes by David Fricke and Mickie Most. The CD version includes the same sound credits and features 6 page fold out liner notes by David Fricke.

Kevin Rathert

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