Animals is the tenth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released in January 1977. A concept album, it provides a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of 1970s Britain, and presents a marked change in musical style from their earlier work. Animals was recorded at the band's studio, Britannia Row, in London, but its production was punctuated by the early signs of discord that several years later would culminate in keyboardist Richard Wright leaving the band. The album's cover image, a pig floating between two chimneys on Battersea Power Station, was conceived by bassist and writer Roger Waters, and photographed by long-time collaborators Hipgnosis.
Animals was released in the UK on 23 January 1977, and in the US on February 12th. It reached number two in the UK charts, and number three in the US charts, and although it scored on the American charts for only six months, steady sales have resulted in its certification by the RIAA at four times platinum. The size of the venues on the band's In the Flesh tour, and an incident in which Waters spat at a fan, prompted him to conceive the band's subsequent album, The Wall.
In 1975 Pink Floyd bought a three-story block of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington. Their deal with record company EMI, for unlimited studio time in return for a reduced percentage of sales, had expired, and they converted the building into a recording studio and storage facility. Its construction took up most of 1975, and in April 1976 the band started work on their tenth studio album, Animals, at the new facility.
Animals was the child of another Waters concept; loosely based on George Orwell's political fable Animal Farm, its lyrics described various classes in society as different kinds of animals; the combative dogs, despotic ruthless pigs, and the "mindless and unquestioning herd" of sheep. Whereas the novella focuses on Stalinism, the album is a critique of capitalism and differs again in that the sheep eventually rise up to overpower the dogs. The album was developed from a collection of unrelated songs into a concept which, in the words of author Glenn Povey, "described the apparent social and moral decay of society, likening the human condition to that of mere animals."
Apart from its critique of society, the album was also in part a response to the punk rock movement, which grew in popularity as a nihilistic statement against the prevailing social and political conditions, and also a reaction to the general complacency and nostalgia that appeared to surround rock music. Pink Floyd was an obvious target for punk musicians, notably Johnny Rotten, who wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt on which the words "I hate" had been written in ink. Drummer Nick Mason later stated that he welcomed the "Punk Rock insurrection" and viewed it as a welcome return to the underground scene from which Pink Floyd had grown. In 1977 he produced The Damned's second album, Music For Pleasure, at Britannia Row.
In his 2008 book Comfortably Numb, author Mark Blake argues that "Dogs" contains some of David Gilmour's finest work; although the guitarist sings only one lead vocal, his performance is "explosive". The song also contains notable contributions from keyboardist Richard Wright, which echo the funereal synthesiser sounds used on the band's previous album, Wish You Were Here.
In his 2004 autobiography Inside Out, Nick Mason suggests that the album's perceived harshness, when compared to previous Floyd releases, may be a result of a "workman-like mood in the studio", and a subconscious reaction to the accusations from the afore-mentioned punk genre that bands like Pink Floyd represented "dinosaur rock". Animals was certified by the RIAA as 4X Platinum on 31 January 1995.