The Breadth of the Music Heard on Pink Floyd’s New Animals 2018 Remix Shines Through, But Some Copies of the First Pressing of the 180g LP Are Experiencing Playback Issues

If you’ve been following us here regularly on AnalogPlanet, then you are likely well aware that Pink Floyd’s legendary and beloved — yet surprisingly oft-overlooked — January 1977 hard-rocking concept album Animals has finally received a much-needed facelift in the form of a completely new stereo remix officially dubbed the Animals 2018 Remix. Issued on 180g black vinyl with a brand new, reimagined update of the album’s iconic cover art, the new incarnation of this Top 5 hit (No. 2 UK; No. 3 U.S.) is in many ways an entirely new listening experience, revealing details only hinted at in the original editions. That said, this new vinyl edition is not quite 100-percent perfection, but it is pretty darn close.

[MM notes: For further Animals-istic Floydian background, you can read Mike Mettler’s exclusive interview with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason here, and also find all the relevant Animals 2018 Remix LP release info and specs here. –MM]

For those of you who may have bypassed the Animals tract, I thought it might be helpful to paint a word picture of the first few minutes of the album by offering a snapshot of the journey that awaits you. Pink Floyd’s Animals begins quietly with acoustic, folk-strummed guitars before exploding into an aggressive swinging rock groove. Those woody, double-tracked acoustics give way to David Gilmour’s rich layered Stratocaster and Nick Mason’s boiling drums in the opening, epic Side One pairing of “Pigs on the Wing (Part One)” and “Dogs.” Listening to Animals is kind of like taking a plane ride into the upper atmosphere, truth be told.

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Listening to James Guthrie’s 2018 stereo remix of Pink Floyd’s Animals on vinyl is generally a lovely, detailed listening experience. This new mix — or, in the collective/official parlance, Remix — is an improvement on the original editions in almost every way. (Remember that key word almost, as we’ll come back to what that exactly means in a bit.)

The new 180g edition of Animals, which was pressed at Record Industry in the Netherlands, easily outshines my original Columbia Records U.S. promo vinyl. Most importantly, this new version sounds like Animals should sound. There is much more detail and presence apparent surrounding the instruments, with increased clarity and separation. The vocals are also much more upfront. An incredible sense of staging is more apparent here, something that previously wasn’t as immediate. Just listen to that haunting early middle section of “Dogs,” where the music is reduced to a sonic-boomlike thud — a.k.a. Mason’s heavily reverberated kick drum — in the distance, while Richard Wright’s synthesizer solo weaves a connective musical tale from the keyboard.

Those double-tracked acoustic guitars deliver an almost rural feel throughout Animals — much in the way Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page used them to enrich and balance that iconic band’s electric textures — so perhaps it is an implied country barnyard sensibility. [Or, I might add, somewhat of a “Grantchester Meadows” meets “A Pillow of Winds” vibe as well–MM]

David Gilmour’s guitar solos on “Dogs” are truly gorgeous, with loads of deep amplifier tone now apparent. The detailing on Roger Waters’ bass is super-resonant and — again — I love how realistic-sounding and massive Mason’s drums sound throughout. He is hitting hard, and that drive really comes through in the remix.

It was all there on the original, but due to compression and other mastering techniques used for creating the album for release in early 1977, the overall impression left was not quite as impactful. On the 2018 Remix, the guitars command your full attention. Just listen for that closing feedback moment and drum crash at the end of “Dogs” — that moment sends a shudder down my spine!

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The new edition of Animals is outstanding in so many ways. It presents a new vision for the album not only sonically, but visually as well with newly revised art inspired by the original photo sessions of the now-iconic Battersea Power Station in London. Showcasing the architecture — complete with the floating pig! — from a different angle, as well as a different time and place, makes it somehow looks even more industrial and eerie than the original. Indeed, from the Sony Legacy site we learn the following, presented here in italics:

For this new release, the artwork has been re-designed for the modern era by Storm [Thorgersen]’s Hipgnosis partner Aubrey “Po” Powell. Taking new shots of the building as it appeared during the recent conversion work, Po experimented with new angles and produce some striking new takes on the classic original. Po elaborates: “With the original 1977 album cover being such an iconic piece of stand-alone art, I had the chance to update it, which was a rather daunting task, but Hipgnosis took the opportunity to re photograph the image to reflect a changing world, and by using modern digital colouring techniques I kept Pink Floyd’s rather bleak message of moral decay using the Orwellian themes of Animals, the pig “Algie,” faithful to the message of the album.

This new packaging comes complete with a beautiful full LP-size booklet that is almost worth the price of admission alone! (Said price of admission, by the way, is $29.99, though you can certainly find it for less.) It makes the teensier booklet in the otherwise fine BD and SACD editions pale in comparison. There are also some fantastic images the band has shared with us, including pictures of the inflatable characters that were floated over the audience during the 1977 Animals tour, as well as terrific new graphic depictions of the Dog, Pig, and Sheep characters.

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[MM adds: Mark Blake also wrote some quite fine liner notes for this Animals 2018 Remix edition that were unfortunately not included in the packaging for various reasons, but you can read them for yourself here.]

Generally, the 180g pressing of Animals 2018 Remix is pretty fine-sounding. It is dark, well-centered, and, sonically, virtually transparent. Well, there I go again with another qualifier — virtually. And therein lies the one glitch we need to discuss. You might remember from earlier in this review where I called attention to the word “almost” in the phrase, “improvement on the original editions in almost every way” in my description of the album. And it really is almost perfect, because my vinyl pressings have been, in fact, alas, not perfect. So, I feel you need to be aware of this possible issue if you are considering purchasing the first pressing of this vital Pink Floyd LP.

To wit: On the first copy of the new 2018 stereo remix of Pink Floyd’s Animals I bought at Amoeba Music, there were a couple of ticks and pops on Side One, which would not go away with normal dust-cleaning procedures. I could have almost lived with those, but when I flipped the record over to play Side Two, the deal-breaker there was simply too annoying — namely, a scratch-like sound at the very start of the side opener, “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” It was actually super-annoying, because it occurs in a relatively quiet portion of the music just before the band kicks in at full volume.

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You can see the glitchy line across the top of the disc above in this iPhone photo I took — unretouched save for a little adjustment of contrast and shadows to make it clearer. You may also notice what looks like “non-fill” sections below that area, but I haven’t heard any noise from them as of yet, after many listens. They may be masked by very loud rocking musical passages, or perhaps my more forgiving stylus setup at present — a Goldring 2100 stylus fitted on my Goldring 2400 cartridge body, a setup recommended to me by turntable expert and AnalogPlanet contributor/reviewer Michael Trei — might be overlooking them.

I’m not sure (yet) if this is a pressing glitch or a remnant impression caused somehow by the packaging. I did get a replacement copy, and it sadly had the same anomaly. A subsequent discussion with a friend from Vancouver I was with at Amoeba while exchanging the album — someone who is even more particular and less forgiving about this sort of thing than I — told me of stories he’d read about this problem on social media, as well as relating his own experiences with his copy up in Canada. I have since read some comments on other notable audiophile forums reporting noisy pressings and such. So, take note — there may indeed be some issues globally with the first run of this release. With all this in mind, I’m planning on picking up a later pressing of Animals 2018 Remix, once this initial run has made its way through the retail foodchain.

Should any of this stop you from buying your own copy of it? Not really — though, that said, the answer will depend on your own particular POV here. If you love listening to music on vinyl and are a diehard Pink Floyd fan and collector, you’ll want to hear this LP regardless. Hopefully, you will be able to get one of the good copies that are out there, because there are indeed some available. Happy Animals 2018 Remix listening!

[MM adds: Personally, I’m batting .500 with the two 180g LP copies of Animals 2018 Remix I happen to have in hand myself — one displays some of the issues Mark mentions in his review above, and the other one does not. Hence, we will keep a close eye on this and future pressings of Animals, and report back accordingly. Either way, feel free to share your own Animals 2018 Remix LP listening thoughts — as in, if you have this first pressing of the LP yourself, please tell us what you’re experiencing with it and/or what you’re hearing — in the Comments section below.]

(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for AudiophileReview.com, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.)

Music Direct Buy It Now

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PINK FLOYD
ANIMALS 2018 REMIX

180g LP (Pink Floyd Records/Sony Music)

Side A
1. Pigs on the Wing (Part One)
2. Dogs

Side B
1. Pigs (Three Different Ones)
2. Sheep
3. Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)

COMMENTS
bvanpelt's picture

I had the exact same side 2 suprise. On my replacement disk, side 2 was also scratched, but in a different way. The place I bought from is simply going to refund my money as they gave up at 2 records.

On the positive side, the SACD sounds pretty much the same as the record sans surface noise.

ivansbacon's picture

"Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air"
I find a few of these aural anomalies on my copy.
Tics in pigs on the wing part 1. Tic and a skip on Pigs (three different ones)
It's "nearly a laugh but its really a cry"!

I have been comparing it to my original pressing and while there are a lot of improvements such the bass and drums (less "creeping malaise") and instrument clarity over all i find that while the vocals are not as back seat as the OG mix i feel in some places they also have lost a little soul. Not as much depth, maybe slightly thinner or less echo/reverb.? ("all tight lips and cold feet")

Overall i like it, Gilmore's guitar jumps out of my 4, quad receiver driven, AR2ax speakers "for low he hath great power"

"Bleating and babbling" Wright's keyboard intro on sheep dance's all around me as i find
"a shelter from pigs on the wing."

"MARMALADE, I LIKE MARMALADE.(marmalade, i like marmalade)" oh wait that was from my Psychedelic Breakfast. "I gotta admit that i a little bit confused"

Tom L's picture

someone is still listening to AR2ax speakers like the ones I bought (used) for my girlfriend in 1973. I had a pair of Advents. Ah, the memories...

eugeneharrington's picture

I was interested to read about your 'travails' with this pressing (Record Industry?) of the Pink Floyd 'Animals' album. While not a Pink Floyd fan per se, I was curious to try this one as the reviews had all been so positive in terms of sound quality. However, I read numerous complaints about poor pressing quality and surface noise on more samples than could be safely ignored by a prospective purchaser. I have noted a decline in the quality of Record Industry vinyl product of late too and this appears to be another instance of this. It is pretty ridiculous that a release of a major work from the catalogue of a major recording artist isn't afforded any meaningful quality control? All my audiophile life (since my earliest teenage years) I have been astounded by the number of people who love Pink Floyd. In that respect, I have always been an outlier. I am glad I avoided this one, though.

markmck12's picture

I have had two copies and they were terrible. One copy had a crater in it on side 1. Both returned. I was considering the cd but your article has made me consider waiting for the next pressing.

If one reads the Amazon reviews, at least the UK site, the majority refer to issues with the vinyl. Likewise on Discogs.

Are all pressings - e.g. Europe and the U.S. - by Record Industry in the Netherlands?

How bad does this issue have to be before someone in the record company sticks their head out from within their collective shell and acknowledge there is a problem? Not a rhetorical question. - I am genuinely interested. Which of these would be the best place to start?

Taken from Discogs Europe release:
Record Company – Warner Music Group
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Pink Floyd Music Ltd.
Copyright © – Pink Floyd Music Ltd.
Marketed By – Parlophone Records Ltd.
Distributed By – Parlophone Records Ltd.

Marty65's picture

A great and honest review Mark.
I have had 2 copies now and both have had the same problems with the second copy being also warped!
It does get quite stressful buying vinyl these days because the pressing quality is very hit or miss I certainly had less issues back in the late 70s and early 80s with quality.

Mike Mettler's picture
Some of the problems plural stem from the number of available/working pressing plants across the globe right now, and the quite particularly specific equipment needed to press the volume/amount of vinyl being ordered and bought these days. It's a good problem to have only in the sense of how much of a demand there is for vinyl that continues to be on the rise. You've probably noticed a lot of "staggered" releases where CD and digital come out together on a certain release date, and the vinyl follows weeks, if not months later.

If you're old enough to recall when the exact opposite case happened in the 1980s when CDs were first on the rise -- as in, the vinyl would come out first, and the CD (in a longbox, no less!) would come out weeks and sometimes months later -- we've come the full 12-inch circle, so to speak.

It's a shame this first pressing of Animals 2018 Remix has so many issues across the globe. As I mentioned in a parenthetical I added into Mark's review, we'll monitor any progress (or non-progress!) here, and if there is a second pressing worth updating this review for/about, we will indeed do so.

Anton D's picture

Consider me ‘warned off.’

timware's picture

No ticks/pops on Side 1, but the noise on Side 2 is a deal breaker. Guess I'll have to return it to shop where I purchased it, and get a refund but NOT a replacement.

analogdw's picture

Guess I got lucky. Sounds fantastic.

sasm.1971@gmail.com's picture

I might have been lucky; but my copy sounds great; no issues at all.

Bought in Portugal.

Keith Sowerby's picture

I got lucky with my UK pressing so compared with my A2/B2 Harvest original. Agree there is a tad more heft on drums and bass is more prominent. Also clearer separation of instruments allows a deeper view into the music allowing organ, synths etc. To be picked out. But I find vocals and acoustic guitars to be less natural and there seems to be less decay on the notes. This gives a well delineated presentation but rather loses the oppressive quality of the original, which is rather the point I thought.

kimi imacman's picture

..in that at first playing I had one massive pop but after that was pretty much flawless. Examining the record closely I found what looked like a piece of vinyl stuck in the groove and it didn’t want to shift. I feared it was the issue others were having and it was a dud pressing but with an easy Amazon returns policy I went for it with my finger nail though with the groove not across it.. Bingo, it popped out so now mine is fab!

On a different note. In the review you said the mix was almost perfect but I don’t think you said how or did I miss that?

garrard701's picture

I do not care for the new cover. I see what they're going for, and the image itself is a beautiful photograph, but it's like reissuing the first VU album with a photograph of an actual banana.
Anyhow, Sowerby's comments about sound quality are spot-on. It almost sounds too clean to me -- but it also finally compares (sonically) with its fellow PF masterpieces from the 70s (DSOTM, WYWH, The Wall). If it had sounded like this from the outset, I could see it being a test record like the others. Nick Mason's excellent interview here shed some light on why this album originally had that slightly closed-in texture. All that said, it's just different -- not better or worse, in my opinion.
As for the QC issue, I had the same mark on my disk as everyone else, but it was very unobtrusive. I'll see if a good cleaning removes the brief surface noise I experienced.

thoosedeloose's picture

Vinyl, both sides have scratches. Hairpinned (may be; I only got through Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) so it is mostly visually), but still produced cracks. And general noice.
Warped.
This crap is going under the sink. Out of circulation...

Note to myself; I will never, ever buy anything from Pink Floyd Records/Sony Music.

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