Just when you think there’s nothing left in the vaults, a real surprise appears – the 1976 Animals demos! Described by Pink Floyd as a very hard album to record, Animals feature some of their best work and perhaps some of David’s finest solos. These newly surfaced demos gives us a glimpse of the process and the studio sessions.
It’s apparent that this isn’t really demos but rather “work in progress”. Most of the backing tracks are done – the drums, bass and acoustics – and even some of David’s and Rick’s guitar and keyboard parts are identical to the finished album versions. It’s also obvious that a lot of mixing and processing has already been done. From what I can gather, this is the very final stages of the initial recordings, right before they recorded the final vocals and overdubs and eventually mixed the album.
Animals was recorded between April and November 1976 in Pink Floyd’s new recording studio Britannia Row, located in Islington, north of central London. According to the source of this bootleg, the tapes dates from June 1976.
Dogs (You Gotta be Crazy) was one of two songs that was written in 1974 and performed during the Dark Side of the Moon tour but didn’t make it on the WYWH album. On the “demo” we can hear that the acoustic guitars, drums (including overdubs) and bass are more or less as on the album version – even mixed and processed. Most of David’s rhythm guitars, like the strumming on the verses, are finished. It’s interesting to hear Roger’s vocals throughout the song. David sang the first part of the song on the 1974-75 and of course on the album. One can only speculate why Roger recorded vocals for the demos but thank God they decided on David singing in the end!
The first solo, between verse 2 and 3 seems to be identical to the album version. David has stated in earlier interviews that most of his guitar parts on Dogs was recorded with a Telecaster and Big Muff (his #1 ram’s head) into a Hiwatt DR103 (and WEM cab) and a Yamaha RA-200 rotating speaker cabinet. We can clearly hear that the sound of the solo is mixed more or less as the album version with the same balance between the Hiwatt and Yamaha.
The second verse solo, after verse 4, is missing. It might not have been recorded at this point but given that the tone and sound of the first one, as described above, seems to be mixed like the album version, I think it’s also fair to assume that the solo was indeed recorded at this point but perhaps muted for this “work-in-progress” tape. I don’t know.
The next solo, the “twin solo” (and the repeat at the end of the song), is also identical to the album version and again mixed and processed for the finished sound or tone. What’s interesting though is the third guitar that’s on top of that. Hard to tell wether it’s an attempt at trying out something for filling in the wholes or if David’s just fooling around but if you listen closely you’ll hear that although it sounds very different it’s still the Muff and the Hiwatt/Yamaha combo but unprocessed, which makes it sound like there’s a lot of ambience or reverb on it. Hard to tell for sure how they got the finished tracks to sound that clean but I’m pretty certain that they ended up with hardly using any reverb at all, if anything, tightened the tracks with some EQ and possibly some mild compression just to get that strong presence. The final tracks are also placed quite high in the mix, which again, gives the illusion of presence and that clean and bright tone.
What’s cool about this third guitar is that it’s pretty apparent that David’s enjoying his new tone. Keep in mind that this was the first sessions with the Muff. Prior to this he’d been using fuzz pedals for his lead and distortion tones. Although the playing is pretty messy, his technique is closer to what you hear on Wall and Final Cut than WYWH, which was recorded only a year before. The Big Muff is so different than anything else and especially at that point, where you didn’t have all the distortions and overdrives that we have today. Apparently, David got inspired and it changed his style and playing quite a lot.
The most interesting part of the Dogs demo is the bluesy “dry solo”. This version is very different from the album version and perhaps closer to the 1974-75 live version. It’s always hard to tell for certain with these bootlegs but it doesn’t appear to be any Yamaha in the mix and if you ask me, it sounds more like a Fender Twin (or at least something Fender-ish) than a Hiwatt. I might be mistaken but I don’t think you can get that middy character with a Muff and Hiwatt. This also makes sense if you consider how smooth this solo sound on the album version. Again, I’m only speculating. Anyway, it’s also apparent that David’s set the gain on the Muff quite low or rolled back the guitar volume considerably. The reverb is probably from the mix and was more or less muted for the album version.
Sheep (Raving and Drooling) was the second song that was written in 1974 and performed during the Dark Side of the Moon tour but didn’t make it on the WYWH album.
This “demo” differ quite a bit from the final album version and some parts are obviously not finished, while others are still very close to the 1974-75 live versions. I’ll comment on David’s parts.
The first thing that strikes me when I listen to this is how polished David’s guitars are on the finished album version. I mean, listen to those nasty, swirling rhythms! It seems like most of what we hear here are the final recordings but I think they could have done more to maintain that raw and edgy character of the tone and not overdone the low cut and general EQ’ing. It’s a bit like listening to the Run Like Hell demo. David’s guitars are so much more aggressive than the album version.
There are different reports on who plays what on Sheep but the fact is that on the 1977 live performances, Snowy White played bass and Roger did all the rhythm guitars. David did the leads or the main rhythm/fills guitars. According to Vernon Fitch’s The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, Roger also recorded the rhythm guitars. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that the guitars that plays with the drums and bass are all clean and has a slightly different character than the lead rhythm, which was indeed played and recorded by David using the Hiwatt/WEM+Yamaha setup. It has also been reported that David used a Tele for the song. I doubt it listening to this demo as there seems to be some tremolo wiggling here and there. Perhaps Roger used one, I don’t know.
Pigs was the only new song written for Animals – apart from the short acoustic number Pigs on the Wing. The “demo” is very similar to the finished album version, apart from obvious differences in the mix and alternate takes.
Not much to comment on here really apart from the missing Talk Box solo during the middle section. Although one of my favourite parts of the album you can hear how that rhythm section is missing a key ingredient without the lead. The outtro solo is also missing and apparently not recorded at this point. There is, however, sort of a lead there played with a clean tone and lots of echo. Perhaps just fooling around or an attempt at using the tone and continuity from the swells used earlier in the song, I don’t know. Still, if you listen closely you’ll hear that some of the licks are already there and David copied these when he recorded the solo that ended up on the album.
It’s always great fun to hear demos and work-in-progress. There’s so much going on in a studio, from the writing to the finished album and very often we don’t get to hear the process that leads to the finished product. No wonder really. It would kind of the same as a painter showing us all his sketches and ideas along the way. Sometimes it ruins the experience of listening to the album or watching the painting as intended by the artist. Still, it’s been so many years and we’re starved! You get to peak into the secrets and the way they worked and although I’d wish we got to hear more of the actual demos this was a huge inspiration and a nice treat!
Please note: The ROIO was shared on Yeeshkul. The linked-to YouTube clips does not do the source or the sound quality justice. Visit Yeeshkul.com and check out the interesting discussions regarding these tapes and the history of the recordings. If you’re not familiar with Yeeshkul then be sure to read through the FAQ section for some tips on how to support the site and how to behave :) Do also visit this thread on the DG Forum for a general comparison between the album and these tapes.