The Animals – ‘Animalization’ (1966 / 2022 reissue)
The final installment of ABKCO Records’ reissue series of The Animals’ first four US LPs in their mono versions features ‘Animalization’ originally released in July, 1966.
Building on its predecessor ‘Animal Tracks’ The Animals sound heavier than ever, with the album including four band originals, two co-written by Eric Burdon and bassist Chas Chandler and two by Burdon with keyboard player Dave Rowberry. The album includes a Brill Building pop rocker, the remaining tracks consisting of the band’s familiar mix of American blues and R & B covers. The LP was the group’s highest charting since their debut peaking at #20 on Billboard’s Hot 200, and includes three Top 40 singles, two reaching no lower than #12.
‘Animalization’ was the group’s first to include new drummer Barry Jenkins, formerly of the Nashville Teens, who plays on 3 of the long player’s 12 tracks as well as appearing on the LP’s front cover, with John Steel playing on the remaining 9 tunes and being pictured on the album’s back cover. Additionally, the album saw producer Mickie Most replaced by Tom Wilson. The album opens with a cover of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin Brill House pop rocker ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ introduced by Dave Rowberry’s organ and Hilton Valentine’s fuzzed out guitar, Burdon’s vocals blending perfectly with Valentine’s lead line accented by Rowberry’s organ, Chandler’s pulsing bass. Jenkins’ racing drum beat and Rowberry’s piano adding texture. The tune hit #12 when released as the group’s second pre-album May, 1966 single. A cover of Joe Tex’s ‘One Monkey Don’t Spoil No Show’ features Rowberry’s piano and an insistent riff by Valentine on the mid-tempo R & B number. The Burdon/Rowberry original ‘You’re On My Mind’ has an intro with Rowberry’s piano and organ overdubbed while the song is dominated by Burdon’s vocals. The balladish track was issued as the b-side of ‘Inside Looking Out’ as a pre-LP single in February 1966. ‘Cheating’ a Burdon/Chandler composition opens with Jenkins’ drums rolls before Valentine’s snarling guitar enters accented by Rowberry’s piano. Valentine contributes not one, but two fuzz filled solos while Burdon repeatedly screams “cheating” adding personality to the track which appeared as the b-side of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. The Burdon/Rowberry ‘She’ll Return It’ is an R & B stomper led by Rowberry’s piano and Burdon’s vocals, with Valentine adding a twanging solo before riffing the outro to what would become the b-side of ‘See See Rider’ in late 1966. ‘Inside Looking Out’ credited to Burdon and Chandler along with American musicologists John and Alan Lomax, opens with Burdon’s plaintive vocals, with Chandler’s booming bass, Valentine’s roaring guitar and Rowberry’s organ driving the song’s riff as its tempo quickens with Chandler’s throbbing bass and Valentine’s fuzz guitar taking over. Valentine solos aided by Rowberry’s organ as the tune closes in a crescendo. The song peaked at #34 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. Side two of the LP begins with a mid-tempo cover of Ma Rainey’s R & B classic ‘See See Rider’, Valentine, Chandler and Jenkins dominating the melody until Valentine cuts loose with a fuzz fueled solo, Rowberry adding organ accents as the tune roars to a close. ‘Gin House Blues’ has a relaxed, bluesy acoustic guitar and vocal intro, Chandler’s restrained walking bass line and Rowberry’s piano interlude fitting the song’s mood, its title incredibly apt. The group’s faithful cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Maudie’ showcases Chandler’s throbbing bass with Valentine’s twanging lead guitar line complemented by Rowberry’s piano and Burdon’s roaring vocals. Chandler’s steady bass line and Rowberry’s organ join Valentine’s relaxed riff on ‘What Am I Living For’ with Rowberry taking a mid-tune organ interlude. Valentine’s guitar and Rowberry’s piano introduce the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ with Burdon belting out the vocals and Valentine adding a Berryesque solo while Rowberry beats the ivories a la Jerry Lee Lewis as the tempo quickens thanks to Chandler’s bass and Steel’s drums. The album closes with a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’, with Chandler’s insistent bass line and Steel’s time keeping steading the rhythm until Chandler’s racing bass line forces the tempo as the band races to a close, Valentine contributing two stunning solos before Burdon screams the vocal outro. The CD version of ‘Animalization’ adds three bonus tracks, with true stereo versions of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘Cheating’ and ‘See See Rider’ making appearances.
As with the other reissues in the series, ‘Animalization’ utilizes the original mono master tapes and uses the 2013 transfers, in this case by Seth Foster and Teri Landi, with mastering by Adam Ayan and lacquer cut by Carl Rowatti. The 180 gram vinyl version features liner notes by David Fricke, while the CD features the same sound credits with 6 page fold-out liner notes by Fricke.
The Animals – ‘Animalization’ (1966 / 2022 ABKCO reissue)
The Animals – ‘Animal Tracks’ (1965 / 2022 reissue)
The Animals – ‘The Animals On Tour’ (1965 / 2022 reissue)
The Animals – ‘The Animals’ (1964 / 2022 reissue)