Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Don't let the Carnaby Street duds fool you, these lads from Newcastle were tough. The Animals were hoods who made good playing gritty blues and R and B like nobody in the British Invasion, including the Stones.

Led by growling frontman Eric Burdon, the Animals powered up the charts with such working class anthems as "We Gotta Get Outta this Place" and "It's My Life," blowing away the bubblegum competition. "The House of the Rising Sun" was their biggest smash. When you heard the first notes of that guitar riff by Hilton Valentine you turned up the radio and stopped whatever you were doing. Burdon sang the hell out of it, sounding like a bluesman twice his age. "Rising Sun" was actually an old folk song, and the Animals were inspired by Bob Dylan's version of the standard on his first album (which in turn was based on Dave van Ronk's take) but these young British punks made it their own. There was nothing like them on the airwaves.

Here are the Animals, performing live (not lipsynching) on Ed Sullivan's variety show. Imagine this on your family television set, sandwiched between some long-forgotten acts--plate spinners, say, and Mitzi Gaynor--on a Sunday night back in 1964.


expatbrian said...

yup, good stuff Bob. Never liked the bubble-gummy, smooth sounds of so many of the groups that came out back then. I liked it gritty and down and dirty. The animals and the Stones could do it. A few years later, of course, Janis did it as well.

Bob Rini said...

I agree, Brian. The Animals, Stones, and Janis blew away all that cotton candy top 40 stuff. I still enjoy listening to that blues-based music because it seems so "real" compared to the commercial radio product.