These reviews are provided to help maintain a connection with various genres of popular music extending from the 1940’s through to present time.
This is album review number 210 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl LP’s and Cd’s, in my collection.
The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album from my collection that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
Links to the previous 200+ reviews can be found at the bottom of this review.
There is no debating that one of the key English groups in the 1960’s, to bring American blues to that country was The Animals.
Through their music they spread the ‘word” too many other nations. Sure there were other great English groups whose careers were based upon covering and adapting American blues, such as the Rolling Stones, the Bluesbreakers and even The Yardbirds.
But, the Animals had one thing the other groups didn’t have – Eric Burdon. It is accepted widely that he had a unique, deep and powerful blues-rock voice that stood out as the best at that time.
So when a digitally remastered vinyl album of their complete work with Producer Mickey Most became available, titled Complete Animals and it is a 180gm audiophile triple album set, it became a must for my collection.
It was released on the Music On Vinyl label under licence from Parlophone with the code MOVLP1255.
It consists of 41 tracks and best of all, in the original mono format. No fake stereo reproduction here!
This album is presented in a solid high gloss gatefold cover, and the sturdiness of the cover reflects the wonderful solidity of the 180gm pressings.
The centre opens up to a very good summary of the history of the Animals with particular attention to their recordings. The rear cover lists the tracks.
The album, despite its title – The Complete Animals, isn’t! It is the recordings done under the auspice of Mickey Most and so they basically cover the years 1964 and 1965, with a few tracks from ostensibly 1990, when unreleased versions were, released.
It certainly features the very best of Eric Burdon in those wonderful halcyon days!
In many ways this was the halcyon period for there “blues” period, as a disagreement with the direction Mickey Most was talking the band during the latter part of 1965, saw the band cutting ties and shortly after, Chas Chandler left to manage the up and coming Jimi Hendrix.
In fact the group has already suffered from membership changes with Alan Price leaving due to personal and musical differences as well as an apparent fear of flying on tour.
By late 1966 the group had changed its name to Eric Burdon and the Animals.
So choosing tracks from a triple album becomes a chore because I am spoilt for choice.
1. Boom Boom
2. Talkin’ ‘Bout You
3. Blue Feeling
5. Baby Let Me Take You Home
6. Gonna Send You Back To Walker
1. Baby What’s Wrong
2. The House Of The Rising Sun
4. I’m Mad Again
5. The Right Time
6. Around And Around
1. I’m In Love Again
2. Bury My Body
3. She Said Yeah
4. I’m Crying
5. Take It Easy
6. The Story Of Bo Diddley
1. The Girl Can’t Help It
2. I’ve Been Around
3. Memphis Tennessee
4. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
7. Hallelujah I Love Her So
8. Don’t Want Much
1. I Believe To My Soul
2. Let The Good Times Roll
3. Mess Around
4. How You’ve Changed
5. I Ain’t Got You
7. Bright Lights Big City
8. Worried Life Blues
1. Bring It On Home To Me
2. For Miss Caulker
3. I Can’t Believe It
4. We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place
5. It’s My Life
6. I’m Gonna Change The World
7. New Year Radio Spot
The album does have seven tracks that charted, so that’s not a bad place to start, and it has four tracks from 1990, I’ll check out one of those and that brings it to eight.
Their first release charted, so I’ll play the B-side to that first single release and finally, a 1965 track with the then new keyboard player, Dave Rowberry, taking the number of tracks to 10.
Let’s make a start with their first charting track – LP1: Side 1″ track 5 – Baby Let Me Take You Home.
This was a relatively unknown track before the Animals released it, even though it was written by Bert Berns.
Bert Berns? He wrote some amazing songs such as “Twist and Shout”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Here Comes the Night”, “Hang on Sloopy”, and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, and his productions include “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Under the Boardwalk”.
The track was released originally by little known American soul singer, Hoagy Lands in the same year, with the altered title – “Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand”.
The Animals’ version opens with striking unaccompanied guitar arpeggios, inserts a middle section with spoken words over an organ riff and closes with a frantic double-time coda.
However, it wasn’t a massive hit for them and in fact it only reached #21 in the British charts – but, it caught the imagination of many young listeners and they started flocking to Animals shows.
The Animals recorded this in one take, as they had perfected the song from performing it on the road.
The producer, Mickie Most recalls, “Everything was in the right place, the planets were in the right place, the stars were in the right place and the wind was blowing in the right direction.
It only took 15 minutes to make so I can’t take much credit for the production. It was just a case of capturing the atmosphere in the studio.”
At first radio stations were loath to play it as the norm for the length of a single was under 3 minutes. House Of the Rising Sun by the Animals came in at 4:29.
House Of the Rising Sun
The group had their third charting single on 17th September 1964. LP #2: Side 1: track 4 is I’m Crying.
The track only made it to 8 and stayed in the charts for 10 weeks. that doesn’t sound like much but we need to remember the music scene in Britain was exploding at this time with groups like the Kinks, Manfred Mann, the Beatles and the Stones all vying for a top position in that week.
The track was co-written by Burdon and Alan Price, as more and more groups began to introduce their own music in conjunction with covers from US Blues and R&B artists. The track certainly features Eric Burdon with a powerful performance.
Side 2 of LP#2 and track 4, is Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
Among many tracks that I think the Animals did so well, this has always been a favourite of mine. It was originally written by Nina Simon who released it in 1964, and the two versions are significantly different. Nina Simon never records rubbish, and her version is good.
However, Eric Burdon made it his. He would later say of the song, “It was never considered pop material, but it somehow got passed on to us and we fell in love with it immediately.” It rocketed to #3 in the UK charts in early 1965, it went to #15 in the US and #4 in Canada
This single was ranked by Rolling Stone at No. 322 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Sometimes I feel a little mad
Well, don’t you know that no-one alive
Can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has it’s problems and I’ve got my share
And that’s one thing I never meant to do
Baby, don’t you know I’m just human
And I’ve thoughts like any other man
And sometimes I find myself alone and regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I’ve done
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
That I never meant to take it out on you…
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Within 8 weeks of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood entering the charts, then their next single – Bring It On Home To Me, track 6: LP3: side 1, entered the charts and rose to #7.
The track was written and recorded by the great Sam Cooke and released in 1962. There is no doubt of the many covers of this track, including by the Animals, Cooks version is the better version.
The Animals recorded the track in tribute to the then-recently killed Cooke. It was their last single to include original organist Alan Price.
Their version reached #7 in the UK and #32 on the US Hot 100.
Bring It On Home To Me
Track #4 on side 2 of LP #2 is the Animals second most sucessful single, after House Of The Rising Sun.
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place made it to the #2 position in July 1965. It was only held out of the #1 position by the recently released Beatles track – Help!
The track became part of their repertoire when their then manager Mickey Most got hold of it even before one of the writers, Barry Mann. It was Mann who wrote it in conjunction with wife Cynthia Weil, and it was his intention to record it himself.
The Animals beat him to it!
There was a foul up in communication between EMI in London and MGM records in the USA and as a result the incorrect version was released in the USA.
The US version the lyric is, “See my daddy in bed a-dyin'”, while the UK version uses, “Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'”
The arrangement featured a distinctive bass lead by group member Chas Chandler. This was the first single not to be recorded by the original line-up, following as it did the departure of keyboard player Alan Price and his replacement by Dave Rowberry.
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Side 2: track 5 of LP#3 features their final charting track, as the Animals. October 1965 and It’s My Life rose to #7 in the UK charts.
There are no less than 19 versions of this track, but once again if you want the most passionate and the best, then the Animals supply it.
The track was another Brill Building composition. At this time the US was being filled with British pop music, which in the main was bright, light and kinda happy.
The Animals with this track, introduced a more sombre, even darker element to the music through the arrangement and delivery by Burdon.
Yet it also moves along at a fabulous gait somewhat due to the use of an electric 12-string guitar by Hilton Valentine and, a stunning bass riff courtesy of Chas Chandler.
This also really was a swan-song, as shortly after the band basically disintegrated with tension among members and their business affairs being in what can only be described as, a shambles.
It’s My Life
That first charting single – Baby Let Me Take You Home had a better than ordinary B-side. Gonna Send You Back To Walker was the track and it’s track 6: Side 1 of LP#1.
“Gonna Send You Back To Georgia” was a single written and released by US R&B singer, Timmy Shaw. The track reached number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1964.
It grabbed Eric Burdon, who decided it would make a great track to record. However, he altered “Georgia” to “Walker”, because Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, was his birthplace.
Gonna Send You Back To Walker
LP#2, Side 1: Track 8 is Don’t Want Much. It’s listed as a 1990 track and so it is – kind of. It was actually recorded in 1965, however this is a previously unreleased version wasn’t released until 1990.
Apart from being a great track, so little is known about it. The writer is unknown and I struggled to find any history of it at all. So, just enjoy!
Don’t Want Much
Now to the last track to feature.
By May 1965, the group was starting to feel internal pressures. Price left due to personal and musical differences as well as fear of flying on touring. As indicated earlier, he was replaced by 1965 Dave Roberry.
The group with Rowberry then recorded the Burdon original, I Can’t Believe It, a fun bluesy track highlighted by rhythms by John Steel.
It has a great descending bass line by Chandler and Rowberry provides tasteful and punchy keyboard playing, complete with a fine lead ending with Burdon’s vocals nicely and cleverly mimicking the organ notes.
This is track 3, LP#3: Side2.
I Can’t Believe It
There are so many tracks recorded by the Animals, and almost as many membership changes.
For me, the group didn’t ‘die” when the left Mickey Most and I love the work they did with tracks like Sky Pilot, San Franciscan Nights and Monterey.
But there is no doubt, those early years that this album covers represents for many of us who were teens during tis period, both the best of UK blues, the best of the Animals and it absolutely reminds us of the fabulous voice and work of Eric Burdon.
I was fortunate to catch his show at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda when he played in May of 2016. He was the consummate performer, no ego, just a man with a passion for music and a voice to match.
Eric with the Animals will hopefully remain on the lips of music lovers for generations to come, as he most certainly stands tall with the best of the British groups that came from that country during that magical music period of the 1960’s.
This IS the album to have to recapture those times and to capture the very best of them in that period.
Here are some performances by the Animals during the 1964-1965 period, and I have tried to add tracks not discussed in the review.
Talk About You
House of the Rising Sun
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen the first 50 Cd album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen album reviews 101 – 150 just click the image below –
To view/listen album reviews 151 – 200 just click the image below –
Click to open the following reviews covering #’s 201 onward.