Pink Floyd – Animals (Epic 2017 #205)

The Epic 2017 Project #205: 170724

Pink Floyd – Animals (1977)

In early December 1976, the year of the ‘hot summer’, I took a trip up to London to visit the National Portrait Gallery. And, as I approached Clapham Junction, I remember looking out of the window at the windy grey skies and seeing a massive pink inflatable pig floating in front of the chimneys and heading east over the Thames.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the photo shoot at Battersea Power Station for the front cover of Pink Floyd’s 10th studio album – Animals. Released on 23 January 1977 by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom and by Columbia Records in the United States, Animals is a concept album providing a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of late-1970s Britain.

The album was released to generally positive reviews in the United Kingdom, where it reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also a success in the United States, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and although it scored on US charts for half a year, steady sales have resulted in its certification by the RIAA at 4x platinum. The size of the venues of the band’s In the Flesh Tour prompted an incident in which Waters spat at members of the audience, setting the background for the band’s next studio album The Wall (to be featured in Epic #206 tomorrow), released two years later.

Animals was recorded at the band’s studio, Britannia Row, in London, but its production was punctuated by the early signs of discord that three years later would culminate in keyboardist Richard Wright leaving the band. The album’s cover image, a pig floating between two chimneys of the Battersea Power Station, was conceived by the band’s bassist and lead songwriter Roger Waters, and was designed by long-time collaborator Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis.

The album was released to generally positive reviews in the United Kingdom, where it reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also a success in the United States, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and although it scored on US charts for half a year, steady sales have resulted in its certification by the RIAA at 4x platinum. The size of the venues of the band’s In the Flesh Tour prompted an incident in which Waters spat at members of the audience, setting the background for the band’s next studio album The Wall, released two years later.

However, you’ll have already guessed that the shoot for that didn’t really go according to plan. The band’s manager, Steve O’Rourke had hired a marksman for the first day (just in case), but forgot to do so for day two when the wind broke the 40ft pig (known as Algie) free of its moorings. Algie flew over Heathrow, resulting in panic and cancelled flights with pilots spotting the pig in the air and eventually landed in Kent. The balloon was recovered and filming continued for a third day, but as the early photographs of the power station were considered better, the image of the pig was later superimposed onto one of those. If I’d had a camera back then though, I’d have had a great shot of it drifting down the Thames towards Bankside.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.