This is their fourth American album, released in August 1966, and was very similar to the UK album “Animalisms,” which unfortunately I don’t own. It seems that their poppier efforts only appeared on the US albums. This one features another Brill Building number written for them, Goffin-King’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Founding member Alan Price (the band started as The Alan Price Combo) had left after Animal Tracks. With this record, drummer John Steel, who is shown on the back cover, left the band and Barry Jenkins, shown on the front cover, took his place. They had also moved from legendary producer Mickie Most to Tom Wilson.
Album cover-wise, it doesn’t seem like The Animals could catch a break; MGM was never a hip and happening label anyway, and despite some nice tries with the typography, the covers always just kinda sat there. This one is really a candidate for one of the worst album covers of all time for a major group. The focal point of the cover appears to be a cafeteria table. The band could not look less enthused. Is there anything that says “See See Rider” less than this photo?
The music, happily, is just a whole other story. Yes, this starts with another Brill Building song, this one the Goffin-King number “Don’t Bring Me Down,” which is an absolutely great song that, like the others that were penned specifically for the Animals, is actually perfect for them.
The rest of this album also rocks. The originals, like “Cheating,” “You’re On My Mind,” and “She’ll Return It,” are all excellent R&B numbers. The covers all have that Animals spin on them, especially “See See Rider” — theirs is my favorite version of that old Ma Rainey number.
My copy of this is embarrassingly beaten up, at least on the cover. The disc itself is just fine. There was a time when I rarely bought duplicates or replacements for records I already had, because resources were limited. In this case, I’d surely like one in better condition, but if the vinyl plays just fine and the album cover is ugly anyway, I’m not sure I’ll ever make the investment in a better quality version of “Animalization.”