THE ANIMALS’ SIXTIES’ HEYDAY.
The Animals’ Sixties’ Heyday.
A lot can happen to a band in just five years. The Animals were proof of this. They released their eponymous debut album in September 1964, and over the next few years, became one of the biggest British Invasion bands. However, by 1969, The Animals’ story was over. By then, the seven separate lineups of The Animals had released ten albums since the group had had been formed in 1962.
That was when The Animals were formed in Newcastle, England. However, The Animals roots can be traced to a band that that had been formed four years earlier, in 1958, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo.
They were popular within the Newcastle area, in the late-fifties and early sixties. However, by 1962, music was changing, and changing fast. The Beatles had burst onto the scene, and this was a game-changer. So in 1963, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to add a vocalist to their lineup.
The man they chose was Eric Burdon. He joined a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup, was organist and the man who lent his name to the Combo, Alan Price. However, not for long.
Not long after Eric Burdon joined the band, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to change their name to something more rock ’n’ roll, The Animals. They set about making their presence felt in the Newcastle music scene.
Soon, The Animals were one of the most popular local bands. Their fiery sets of saw The Animals fusing electric blues and rock. This proved popular, and won over audiences night after night. Each night, The Animals’ sets were combination ran through covers of songs recorded by blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed. This struck a nerve with audiences in their home city. However, The Animals had set their sights higher than being a big fish in a small pond.
In 1964, The Animals made the decision to move to London. By then, The Animals had struck up a relationship with music impresario Giorgio Gomelsky. He owned the Crawdaddy Club, and for a time managed the Rolling Stones, who were the club’s house band. However, by 1964, the Rolling Stones had gone on to bigger things. Soon, so would The Animals.
Not long after The Animals moved to London, they were signed by Columbia Records. Quickly, The Animals repaid Columbia Records’ faith in them. Their debut single Baby Let Me Take You Home was produced by producer and pop impresario Mickie Most. When the single was released in March 1964, it reached twenty-one on the UK singles charts. Success had come quickly for The Animals in Britain. America was a different proposition though.
Five months later, and Baby Let Me Take You Home was released in America, but stalled at 102 in the US Billboard 100. Soon, though, The Animals would be one of the biggest British Invasion bands.
Three months later, in June 1964, The Animals released The House Of The Rising Sun as a single. This traditional song transformed The Animals’ career it when it reached number one in Britain, America, Canada, Australia and Sweden. Elsewhere, including Germany and Holland, The House Of The Rising Sun gave The Animals a top ten single. They were well on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands on both sides of the Atlantic.
Given the success of The House Of The Rising Sun, The Animals were sent into the studio to record an album with producer Mickie Most. Columbia wanted an album quickly, to build on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun.
Twelve songs were chosen and would become The Animals. The songs included old blues and R&B numbers, and was a reminder of The Animals’ musical roots. Among the songs that were chosen were Ray Charles’ Talkin’ About You Baby, John Lee Hooker’s Mad Again, Fats Domino’s I’ve Been Around. It was joined I’m in Love Again which Fats Domino wrote with Dave Bartholomew. Two Chuck Berry’ songs were chosen, Around and Around and Memphis, Tennessee. They joined The Animals first two singles Baby Let Me Take You Home and The House Of The Rising Sun. These songs became The Animals eponymous debut album. It was released later in 1964.
Before that, critics reviewed The Animals debut album. It was mostly well received, and showcased what The Animals as a band were about. The Animals was then released in Britain and America in September 1964.
On both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals built on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun. The Animals reached number six in the UK and seven in the US Billboard 200. This was the start of rise and rise of The Animals to become one of the most successful British Invasion groups.
Just eight months later, The Animals released their sophomore album Animal Tracks. It had been recorded during 1964 and 1965, and mostly, followed in the footsteps of The Animals’ eponymous debut album.
Mainly, Animal Tracks was another album of covers of R&B and blues. This included Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’ Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Clarence Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll, which Ray Charles made famous. However, tucked away on side two of Animal Tracks, was the first song penned by a member of The Animals.
It was Eric Burdon who was the first member of The Animals to write a song for an Animals’ album. His contribution was For Miss Caulker. This was just the start of Eric Burdon’s songwriting career, which blossomed over the new few years. Before that, Animal Tracks was recorded with producer Mickie Most. Once the album was complete, it was released in Britain in May 1965.
Unlike the reviews of their eponymous debut album, Animal Tracks wasn’t as well received by critics. Some of the songs were as strong as those on The Animals. They lacked the quality and energy. However, this didn’t bother record buyers.
When Animal Tracks was released in May 1965, it reached number six in the UK. However, Animal Tracks wasn’t released in America until September 1965, but reached just fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. Before Animal Tracks was released in America, The Animals released their American sophomore album The Animals On Tour.
The Animals On Tour.
After the released of their eponymous debut on both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals ‘ popularity soared stateside. They quickly became one of the most popular and successful British Invasion groups. So a decision was made to record an album that would only be released in America, The Animals On Tour.
This was the start of confusing time for fans of The Animals. Albums were released in Britain and America at different times. Some albums, including The Animals On Tour weren’t officially released in Britain. The first album that wasn’t officially released in Britain, was The Animals On Tour.
Given the title, many record buyers thought The Animals On Tour was a live album. It wasn’t. Instead, it was another album of cover versions. Some of the tracks had featured on Animal Tracks, including Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’ Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Calvin Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll. They rubbed shoulders with John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom and Dimples, which he wrote with James Bracken. The only new track on The Animals On Tour was an Eric Burdon and Alan Price composition I’m Crying. These twelve tracks were recorded in 1964 and produced by Mickie Most.
The Animals On Tour was released in March 1964, the same times as Animal Tracks was released in Britain. Doubtless copies of Animal Tracks made their way across the Atlantic, where fans of The Animals were in for a surprise. Both albums featured a number of similar tracks. So it was no surprise that The Animals On Tour stalled at a lowly ninety-nine in the US Billboard 200. This was a disappointing outcome for The Animals.
What was a bigger disappointment was when of organist Alan Price quit The Animals in May 1965. Tension had been building within the band for some time. They had also been touring almost non stop. The constant touring made things worse, as Alan Price had a a fear of flying. So when he left The Animals, reasons cited were personal and musical differences, plus Alan Price’s fear of flying. This was a huge blow for The Animals.
Mick Gallagher stepped into the fray, and replaced Alan Price on a temporary. This was only until Dave Rowberry joined The Animals and became their keyboardist. This was the start of a new era for The Animals.
Things improved for The Animals when Animal Tracks was released in America in September 1965. It reached fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. That was despite many of the tracks on Animal Tracks having already featured on The Animals On Tour. It seemed that The Animals were still one of the most popular and prolific British Invasion bands.
The Animals had released three albums in America in the space of a year. Each album had sold well, and by late 1965, The Animals were one of the most popular British Invasion bands. They were rubbing shoulders withThe Kinks and The Who, and had set their sights on The Beatles and Rolling Stones. If all went well, The Animals could be one of the biggest British bands of the sixties. However, the pressure continued to build as The Animals began to work on their new American album, Animalization.
When work began on Animalization, the lineup of The Animals featured a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup, were vocalist Eric Burdon and keyboardist Dave Rowberry. They chosen twelve songs that became Animalization.
Just like previous albums, the majority of Animalisms featured cover versions. This included covers of soul, blues and R&B songs. Among them, were Joe Tex’s One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, John Lee Hooker’s Maudie, Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You and Alonzo Tucker and Jackie Wilson’s Squeeze Her, Tease Her. Joining the nine cover versions were a trio songs penned by members of The Animals.
Eric Burdon and new keyboardist Dave Rowberry formed a new songwriting partnership, penning You’re On My Mind and She’ll Return It. Dave Rowberry also wrote Clappin’. The Animals’ newest member was making his presence felt. Soon, though Dave Rowberry was no longer the new member of The Animals.
When recording of Animalization began, work began on laying down twelve tracks with producer Mickie Most. Dave Rowberry made his Animals’ debut, adding keyboards. However, with eight tracks recorded, drummer John Steel quit. He was replaced by Barry Jenkins, who featured on Don’t Bring Me Down, Cheating, See See Rider and She’ll Return It. Once the album was complete, Animalization was released in June 1966.
Prior to the release of Animalization, reviews of the album were published. They were mostly positive, with some of the reviews calling Animalisms one of The Animals’ best albums. Elements of blues, rock, R&B and soul were combined by The Animals. The only problem was, The Animals were still too reliant on cover versions. Maybe the Eric Burdon and Dave Rowberry songwriting partnership would flourish? That was in the future.
When Animalization was released in America, the album reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200, and became The Animals’ second biggest selling American album. Now they had to build on the success of Animalization.
Animalisms (US Version).
Just four months later, The Animals released an American version of Animalisms. It featured an alternative track listing, which featured twelve cover versions. They were an eclectic selection of songs.
Frank Zappa’s All Night Long sat side by side with Sam Cooke’s Shake, Fred Neil’s The Other Side of This Life, Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightnin’, Percy Mayfield’s Hit The Road Jack, Muddy Water’s Louisiana Blues and Donovan’s Hey Gyp. These songs were recorded during July 1966.
The recording session took place at Lansdowne Recording Studio, in London, England and T.T.G, Hollywood, in California. Tom Wilson took charge of production. He gave The Animals more freedom to express themselves artistically. They embraced this opportunity on what was the last session that featured drummer Barry Jenkins. He played on ten tracks, with John Steel playing on Outcast and That’s All I Am to You. When the sessions were complete, Animalisms was released on 21st November 1966.
When critics heard Animalisms they were impressed with the album, which found The Animals relishing their new found artistic freedom. They flit seamlessly between musical genres on Animalisms. Sadly, when Animalisms was release, it failed to chart. This was a huge disappointment. However, the times they were a changing for The Animals.
When a cover of the blues classic See See Rider was released, the group were now billed as Eric Burdon and The Animals. This lineup was short-lived and split-up in September 1966. The Animals’ career was over after just two years.
Eric Burdon and The Animals.
A new chapter in The Animals’ story began shortly thereafter. Eric Burdon began putting together a new band. Drummer Barry Jenkins was the first person recruited by Eric Burdon for his new band.
This new band became Eric Burdon and The Animals, who musically had undergone a Damascene conversion musically. Previously, Eric Burdon had a been a disciple of hard driving blues. Not any longer. He decided to incorporate his take on psychedelic rock into Eric Burdon and The Animals’ music. This began on their debut album Eric Is Here.
While Eric Burdon and The Animals was a new band, not all members of the band featured on the band’s debut album Eric Is Here. It comprised entirely of twelve cover versions. This time around, Eric Burdon was relying on many Brill Building songwriters. This included Goffin and King’s On this Side of Goodbye, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil’s It’s Not Easy and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s In The Night. Three Randy Newman songs were also chosen, including Mama Told Me Not To Come, I Think It’s Going To Rain Today and Wait Till Next Year. These songs were quite unlike what The Animals had previously covered. However, this was a new beginning for Eric Burdon and The Animals.
What didn’t change was that Tom Johnson produced Eric Is Here. He brought onboard an orchestra, who accompanied Eric Burdon and The Animals. They combined blues rock, R&B psychedelic rock and rock on Eric Is Here. Alas, it was neither a potent nor heady brew.
When Eric Is Here was released, only Eric Band and Barry Jenkins were credited as having played on the album. It proved to be an inauspicious start to Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. Neither critics nor record buyers were won over by Eric Is Here. The reviews of Eric Is Here included some of the worst that any Animals album had received. Things got were when Eric Is Here was released in March 1967. The album stalled at a lowly 121 in the US Billboard 200. Across the Atlantic, Eric Is Here failed to chart in Britain. All that Eric Burdon could hope, that things would improve when Eric Burdon and The Animals released their sophomore album, Winds Of Change.
Winds Of Change.
Following the disappointment of Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon began putting together Eric Burdon and The Animals. Joining drummer Barry Jenkins in the rhythm section was bassist Danny McCulloch and guitarist Vic Briggs. The final piece of the jigsaw was John Weider, who played electric violin. Now Eric Burdon and The Animals could begin to move towards psychedelic rock on their sophomore album Winds Of Change.
On their previous album Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon and The Animals had just toyed with psychedelic rock. Not this time. psychedelic rock. Eric Burdon and The Animals wrote ten new tracks, and covered Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ Paint It Black. Producing Winds Of Change was Tom Johnson.
Recording of Winds Of Change took place over a two week period in March 1967, at TTG Studios in Los Angeles. That was where Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded their hard rocking cover of Paint It Black. The rest of Winds Of Change was the most psychedelic album Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded and released.
Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, but before that, critics lavished the album with critical acclaim. It was Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic, on what was one of their best albums. Among the highlights were Winds Of Change and Yes I Am Experienced which was Eric Burdon and The Animals’ answer to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The quality continued on San Franciscan Nights, Good Times and the album closer, It’s All Meat. It found Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic. After a false start, Eric Burdon and The Animals had returned with a career defining album.
When Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, it reached forty-two in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. Despite that, it looked as if Eric Burdon and The Animals might go on to reach the heights that The Animals reached between 1964 and 1966. The new group certainly had the talent, and had something that The Animals lacked. Eric Burdon and The Animals featured five talented songwriters. They would put their songwriting skills to good use on The Twain Shall Meet.
The Twain Shall Meet.
For the very first time in the history of The Animals and Eric Burdon and The Animals, an entire album was written by members of the band. This was a first. No longer were Eric Burdon and The Animals reliant on old blues or R&B songs. Gone also, were the days when Eric Burdon and The Animals relied upon songs by Brill Building songwriters. The Twain Shall Meet was written by the five members of Eric Burdon and The Animals.
Among the songs they wrote for The Twain Shall Meet was Monterey, a celebration of 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Sky Pilot Parts 1 & 2) was an anti Vietnam War song, which would give Eric Burdon and The Animals a number fourteen hit single in the US Billboard 200. It tapped into the mood of the American nation. These songs were recorded in December 1967.
When the recording began, Tom Wilson returned to produce The Twain Shall Meet. This time though, two vocalist were used on The Twain Shall Meet. Eric Burdon took charge of the vocals on five songs, while bassist Danny McCulloch added the vocals on Just the Thought and Orange and Red Beam. These seven songs were completed later in December 1967, and released in April 1968.
Unlike Winds Of Change which was released to critical acclaim, The Twain Shall Meet received mixed reviews. One of the fiercest critics of The Twain Shall Meet was Rolling Stone magazine. This was disappointing for Eric Burdon and The Animals.
So was the performance of The Twain Shall Meet. It was only released. When it was released in March 1967, Eric Burdon and The Animals’ third album stalled at just seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. The only small crumb of comfort was the performance of the singles.
Monterey was the lead single, and fifteen in the US Billboard 100. The followup Anything, reached just a lowly eighty in the US Billboard 100. However, Sky Pilot then reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 and forty in the Britain. Two top twenty singles almost made-up for The Twain Shall Meet stalling a seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200. Maybe Eric Burdon and The Animals’ next album, Every One of Us, would be bigger success?
Every One of Us.
1968 was without doubt, the busiest year of Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. They released a trio of albums. The second album in the trio was Every One of Us, which was recently reissued by BGO Records. It’s a welcome reissue, because when Eric Burdon and The Animals released Every One of Us, it was never released in Britain.
Eric Burdon and The Animals were never as popular as The Animals in Britain. None of their albums had charted in Britain. It was very different to when The Animals enjoyed three top ten albums. That was the past, and the past was another country for Eric Burdon and The Animals.
When work began on Every One of Us, Eric Burdon and The Animals were now a sextet. Zoot Money, a British vocalist and keyboardist had joined the band. The addition of a new band member was risky. There was always the potential that it would upset the equilibrium of the band. Especially since the band had been working well together, and had written two albums. This changed on Every One of Us.
For Every One of Us, which featured seven tracks, Eric Burdon wrote much of the album He penned White Houses, Uppers and Downers, The Immigrant Lad, The Year Of The Guru and cowrote New York 1963-America 1968 with Zoot Money. Eric Burdon also arranged the traditional song St. James Infirmary Blues. The only song that Eric Burdon didn’t play a part in was Serenade To A Sweet Lady. It was written by John Weider. These seven songs would become Every One of Us.
When recording of Every One of Us began, there was no sign of producer Tom Wilson. Instead, Eric Burdon and The Animals produced For Every One of Us. By then, the rhythm section consisted of drummer Barry Jenkins, bassist and 12-string guitarist Danny McCulloch and guitarist and bassist Vic Briggs. John Weider switched between guitar and celeste and Zoots Money played Hammond organ and piano. This time round, Eric Burdon took charge of all the vocals. Once Every One of Us was complete, it was scheduled for release later in 1968.
When Every One of Us was released in August 1968, this accomplished album of psychedelic blues stalled at just 152 in the US Billboard 200. This was a huge disappointment, considering the quality of the music and musicianship. The critics had thought that Every One of Us would fare much better. Things didn’t improve when White House was released as a single. It reached just sixty-seven in the US Billboard 100. For Eric Burdon and The Animals this just rubbed salt into their wounds.
Especially since Eric Burdon and The Animals had released what was without doubt, one of their finest albums since the release of Eric Is Here in March 1967. The only album that surpasses Every One of Us, is Winds Of Change which was released in September 1967. Given the quality of music on Every One of Us, it was a frustrating time for Eric Burdon and The Animals. However, soon, they began work on their third album of 1968. Love Is.
For Love Is, the lineup of Eric Burdon and The Animals and changed yet again. Vic Briggs and Danny McCulloch had left the band, and former Police guitarist joined Eric Burdon and The Animals. They were no longer a sextet to a quintet, as work began on their tenth album, which would be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ first double album.
Unlike recent albums, Love Is featured mostly cover versions. This included Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich’s River Deep-Mountain High; Sly Stone’s I’m an Animal; June Carter and Merle Kilgore’s Ring Of Fire and Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood’s Colored Rain. They were joined by Barry and Robin Gibb’s To Love Somebody plus Don Deadric Robey’s As the Years Go Passing By. Eric Burdon contributed just the one song, I’m Dying (Or Am I?). Completing Love Is was an eighteen minute epic where Steve Hammond’s Gemini gave way Zoot Money and Andy Summers’ Madman Running Through the Fields. These eight tracks would become Love Is.
Recording of Love Is took place at TTG and Sunset Sound Studios, in Hollywood, California during October 1968, with The Animals producing Love Is. It featured the recording debut of the new lineup. Its rhythm section featured drummer Barry Jenkins; bassist pianist and organist Zoot Money o plus guitarist and violinist John Weider. This time around, the vocals were shared, with Zoot Money featuring on I’m Dying (Or Am I?) and on Gemini, while Eric Burdon took charge of the rest of the vocals. Once recording of Love Is was completed in October 1968, the album was released in December 1968.
Before that, critics had their say on Love Is, which was a very different album from recent albums. Love Is featured mainly cover versions. These cover versions were totally transformed by Eric Burdon and The Animals. The songs featured extended arrangements, and sometimes, new lyrics and sections. Among the highlights were Ring Of Fire and Traffic’s Coloured Rain, which featured a guitar masterclass from Andy Summers. His guitar solo lasts an incredible four minutes and fifteen singles. Eric Burdon and The Animals bowed in style with Gemini and Madman Running Through The Fields, an eighteen minute epic that took up the final side of Love Is. Whole most of the reviews proved positive, there were a few dissenting voice among the critics.
Despite that, Love Is recached 123 in the US Billboard 200, which surpassed the commercial success of Every One Of Us. An edited version of Ring Of Fire was then released as a single. It reached thirty-five in the UK and entered the top forty in Australia, Germany and Holland. Things it seemed, were looking up for Eric Burdon and The Animals.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Love Is proved to be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ swan-song. In 1969, Eric Burdon and The Animals disbanded for the second time. This time, it looked as if it was the end of the road for one of the most successful of the British Invasion groups. They had enjoyed four successful years together.
Between them, The Animals and then Eric Burdon and The Animals released nine studio albums and one live album between 1964 and 1968. These albums proved more successful in America than they were in Britain. The Animals and then Eric Burdon and The Animals enjoyed ten top twenty singles in the UK and America. Their most successful single was The House Of The Rising Sun in 1964, which reached number one on both sides of the Atlantic and sold five million copies worldwide. Nowadays, The House Of The Rising Sun is synonymous with The Animals and Eric Burdon and The Animals.
That’s somewhat ironic, as there’s much more to their career than just one song. Proof of that is the ten albums that The Animals and later, Eric Burdon and The Animals released during their four year recording career. These albums are a reminder of a truly talented band, that constantly reinvented their music to ensure their music music remained relevant. That was the case right up to Eric Burdon and The Animals released heir swan-song Love So in December 1968. Not long after the release of Love So, Eric Burdon and The Animals disbanded in 1969. That was the end of the road for Eric Burdon and The Animals.
Sadly, there was no pot of gold waiting for Eric Burdon and The Animals. Just like many bands, they had been mismanaged over the years. So it was no surprise that eight years later, the original lineup of The Animals announced they were about to reunite.
The Animals released their first reunion album, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted was released to critical acclaim in August 1977. It reached number seventy in the US Billboard 200, and was the most successful album since the release of Winds Of Change in September, 1967. Despite the success of Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, The Animals comeback was brief and consisted of just the one album.
Another six years passed The Animals made their second comeback, when they released Ark in August 1983. Although the album was well received, there were a few dissenting voices. Despite that, Ark reached sixty-six in the US Billboard 200. Ark proved to be last album the reunited line-up of The Animals released. This time there would be no more comebacks.
Never again, would The Animals reunite. This time, it really was the end of the road for one of the most successful and influential of the British Invasion bands. While their two comeback albums were a reminder of what The Animals were capable of, The Animals released the finest music of their career during their sixties heyday.
The Animals’ Sixties’ Heyday.
- Posted in: Blues ♦ Psychedelia ♦ Rock
- Tagged: Alan Price, Animal Tracks, Animalisms, Animalization, Ark, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, Eric Burdon, Eric Burdon and The Animals, Every One Of Us, Love Is, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, The Animals On Tour, The Twain Shall Meet, Winds Of Change