According to Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s long-awaited Animals box set is finally coming out in the not-too-distant-future. The last sticking point seemed to center around, of all things, liner notes. Roger Waters wanted to include an essay by British journalist Mark Blake, while David Gilmour wanted the set to come out without notes. In the end, Waters just posted Blake’s work on his website, clearing the way for the box set.
Details about the set haven’t yet been released, but it will include new stereo and 5.1 mixes. The 2011 Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Box Set consisted of six discs and included demos, live footage, and concert recordings from that period. The producers might have a more difficult time assembling concert recordings for this Animals one since the band didn’t officially record or film anything on that tour.
“The problem was we just hit a period where everyone was paranoid about bootleggers and we didn’t tape shows,” Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Rolling Stone in 2018. “It’s great we did the Pink Floyd at Pompeii thing, but I’m sorry we never filmed and recorded a Dark Side, Animals, or Wish You Were Here show, really … [From the Animals period], there’s certainly nothing really good, just sort of monitor mixes and so on. We really should have done the whole thing, filmed and recorded it properly.”
This is particularly tragic since Floyd’s 1977 In the Flesh tour was perhaps the greatest stadium show of the Seventies, if not all time. It began with an airplane flying above the heads of the audience and featured complete performances of Animals and Wish You Were Here. There are bootlegs of many of the shows, but most of them sound horrid due to the limitations of amateur recording gear at the time.
The best one is from the group’s May 9th, 1977, show in Oakland, California, which you can hear right here. In addition to the complete performances of Animals and Wish You Were Here, it includes encores of “Money,” “Us and Them,” and “Careful With that Axe, Eugene.” The band hadn’t played the latter song since 1974, and they never did it again.
The sound quality isn’t flawless, but it’s definitely good enough to include on the Animals box set, especially if Floyd’s engineers can somehow get their hands on the master tape. Let’s hope they find a way to do that. This recording is historic, and it deserves to be heard far and wide.