I was in the town centre at lunchtime and popped into a charity shop on the off chance they had some used vinyl in there, they did, and it was mostly Cliff Richard and suchlike, about 20 albums that weren’t at all interesting, except for one, which was in a clear protective sleeve. it appears to be an original 1977 release of ‘Animals’ by Pink Floyd. As I didn’t have it I thought I’d pick it up. I took it to the counter and they charged me £1.45. At that price it was worth the risk that it was scratched to hell and didn’t play. As it turns out, it plays perfectly, so a bargain!
In 1975 Pink Floyd bought a three-storey block of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington, north London. 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.
|1.||“Pigs on the Wing 1”||Waters||Waters||1:25|
|2.||“Dogs”||Waters, Gilmour||Gilmour, Waters||17:03|
|1.||“Pigs (Three Different Ones)”||Waters||Waters||11:25|
|3.||“Pigs on the Wing 2”||Waters||Waters||1:23|
The album is very loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the lyrics describing various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the combative dogs, despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. The album is more a critique of Capitalism than Stalinism though.
The album cover, by Hipgnosis (andschool friend Storm Thorgerson), was created in the days before Photoshop made things somewhat easier and in order to create the image of a pig flying over Battersea power station they actually had to fly a pig over Battersea power station!
From Time Out: This week, we meet director Aubrey Powell, 66. Aubrey co-founded Hipgnosis, the design company behind some of the most iconic album covers of the ’70s – including Pink Floyd’s famous ‘Animals’ album cover, shot at Battersea Power Station.
Tell us the story of that ‘Animals’ album cover.
‘Roger Waters [from Pink Floyd] called up one day and said “I’m thinking of doing something with Battersea Power Station” – he lived close and could see it from his window. At that time it was still in full working order, with steam coming out of the chimneys. The band had just had an inflatable pig built for a tour. Roger and I both looked up at the Station, and said, “let’s fly the pig between the chimneys”. Just like that.’
But the shoot didn’t quite go to plan, did it?
‘That day there was the most incredible, Turner-esque sky. But for some reason, the pig wasn’t inflating. I shot the Station anyway, because the sky was so amazing. Eventually they managed to inflate the pig and hoist it between the two chimneys. It was all set up and ready to go when the chain broke and the pig sailed up 20,000ft, ending up right in the centre of Heathrow air traffic. At which point Pink Floyd left the site.’
Good thinking. What happened then?
‘All flights from Heathrow were cancelled, and I was arrested. We put out an announcement on the radio telling people to look out for 40ft long pink, inflatable pig, and the RAF sent out a crew to look for it. At 9.30pm a man rang up. He was a Kentish farmer, with a broad accent. He said, “Are you the guy looking for a pig? It’s scaring my cows to death in my field”. It was front-page news: Pink Floyd couldn’t have got better publicity if they tried.’
And you got the shot eventually.
‘Battersea let us come back, but we had to take a sharpshooter in case it flew off again. The day when we finally shot it, the sky wasn’t as impressive as it had been, so I added the pig to the photo from the first day. It’s actually a completely faked photograph.’
Interview: Flo Wales Bonner
If you would like to listen to the entire album, here it is;