WELCOME TO THE SHEEP SEATS
A round-up of the year 1977 by Paul Powell Jr.
Animals era began in April of 1976 with the Pink Floyd recording, for
the first time, in their own Britannia Row studios. With a studio of
their own, and upgraded to state of the art, they exercised their own
lack of discipline by conveying a work full of long-winded venom and
Only the punk era seemed more
volatile than Floyd at this time. While Johnny Rotten screamed anarchy
and rebellion, Roger Waters' lyrics sized up the situation more
eloquently, reducing human behaviour and personality to the likes of
animals; thus, Animals wasn't a comment on humanity's darker side, it
was a vivisection.
On December 3rd, a second attempt
to photograph the pig balloon over Battersea Power Station was cut
short when the porcine dirigible broke loose and headed for friendlier
skies, winding up over Southeast England after being refused permission
to land at Heathrow Airport!
Hipgnosis had designed the first
cover only to have it rejected by Pink Floyd; after three shooting
sessions they had enough material to construct the now famous cover.
Pink Floyd have shared a long history with Hipgnosis beginning with A
Saucerful Of Secrets. Now, with the Animals cover finished, they went
on to design the songbook and tour programme both mirroring the
desolation and savage graphics of the LP. A three minute video of the
pig sessions exists, but this would not be the last time the balloon
Variations of the LP cover
included a solid pink single cover and sleeve with pink vinyl in
France. Another with a normal cover and sleeve adorned with a decal on
the wrap that reads "Disque Rose" and "Tirage Liminite" complete with
the same pink vinyl. The Netherlands also had pink vinyl. In Japan you
got a four page insert with five essays (I assume) on the band by
Japanese journalists plus extra pics and lyric translations. The US and
UK versions were normal save for the 8-track cartridge having a guitar
solo bridging Pigs On The Wing 1 & 2, performed by Snowy White,
part of their touring band at the time.
Promotion went from the
outrageous to the casual. In France, pink plastic pigs were distributed
to shops which doubled as album holders. Sometimes dozens were spotted
trotting down streets, and on one occasion formed a question mark in a
field - obviously alerting other pigs in the air of their whereabouts.
America, a Pink Floyd parade was held on 6th Avenue, New York City.
Fans who witnessed the spectacle saw sheep and pigs parading down the
street. Later, to promote the Madison Square Garden gigs, ticket
applications were handed out in Central Park's "Sheep Meadow". Fans
later rejoiced to the launch of yet another pig balloon; this one,
however, remained on earth. A radio ad was produced as were the usual
print ads. DJs in the US had a promo-only LP to play. It was unusual in
that Dogs was cut into three parts, banded for airplay. The cue sheet
shows it divided into five minute segments. Sheep was also cut in half,
and of course, Pigs had an obvious word deleted. Some religious groups
were up in arms about the 23rd Psalm passage in Sheep, but this was
In the UK, the LP was premiered
to the press on January 19th at Battersea Power Station, and a
mispressing of early UK copies created an instant collectors item: side
two of Animals instead had side two of Wish You Were Here. A month
earlier, on December 17th, saw the beginning of the legendary Pink
Floyd Story on London's Capital Radio, of which the sixth and final
part was to exclusively premiere the album with Roger explaining it in
interview, on January 21st. Unfortunately, BBC DJ John Peel beat them
to it, playing it the night before. The six part series was the first
complete Pink Floyd radio documentary, and featured the band talking in
depth about their history. It is transcribed in full, in the Interviews section of this site.
On January 23rd the Floyd donned
leather bomber jackets and shirts printed with a pig logo, and set
across the world on the IN THE FLESH tour. The shows were sensory
banquets packed with a barrage of balloons in the shape of a
cigar-holding industry executive, a family of three, a car and a pig.
Add two electronic lighting cranes, the mirror ball, pyrotechnics and
the filmscreen with new Gerald Scarfe animation. This would be the
first time Welcome To The Machine would be played, and now had
accompanying animation of a metallic creature, rats, a bloody sea and a
decapitation! The band didn't brew tea on stage, but what they did is
rock like never before.
The tour set a standard for scale
and attendance. The first half was dedicated to Animals, the second to
WYWH. Ads appeared in Rolling Stone and most impressive was a full page
in the New York Times of the pig nuzzling up beside the smokestack. By
April the LP had gone platinum, and to celebrate, CBS ran a two page
colour ad in Billboard showing a platinum pig and a real pig nestling
in straw. By this time the Euro leg of the tour was over, and they were
playing the bowls and stadiums of America. The strain on Roger was
eating at him like acid on a raw nerve; the audiences were more and
more enthusiastic, but at the same time, they were an insatiable
organism devouring every sight and sound.
Chicago, at Soldier Field on June 19th, the audience seemed much larger
than the reported 63,000 - so a helicopter headcount with a
photographer and lawyer revealed a crowd nearer to 95,000. In Cleveland
at the Municipal Stadium on June 25th they set another attendance
record of 81,377. In Canada at the Olympic Stadium on July 6th, over
80,000 turned out for the largest show in Canadian history. The
concerts became a survival test; Roger even yelled out the gig number
during Pigs. While in New York during the four night stay in July,
Roger cursed at union light crews for doing a substandard job, and
again at another to curse someone lighting fireworks - this person got
a right tongue lashing!
For the duration, Gilmour had
another guitar player to fill in on rhythm and share leads, allowing
him to play with total conviction and focus; his guitar playing on this
tour was exemplary. On several occasions, encores consisted of songs
they hadn't performed in over a decade - Careful With That Axe, Eugene
delighted old and new fans alike at Oakland Coliseum on May 9th, and
Blues at Montreal on July 6th, as David wandered into the crowd back to
the soundboard to watch as Snowy White, the lone guitarist, played a
morose conclusion to a sometimes turbulent tour.
The altercation between a fan and
Waters are legend, the results would send ripples through the Pink
Floyd empire, and thus ended an era and began another; it would be
another decade before they would surpass the size and scale of the tour.
The Animals material didn't
receive a lot of mileage after the tour, although CBS/EMI saw fit to
include Sheep on the Collection Of Great Dance Songs album. Although
Floyd haven't played any Animals songs since then, Dogs would have been
the obvious choice with some of David's most passionate and blistering
guitar work. Waters has performed selections from Animals on his solo
tours of 1984, 1987 and his most recent shows.
One very interesting bit of data
about the tour is that every show was recorded on their Nakamichi
cassette deck, mostly for tightening up the show during rehearsals, but
its value as archival material is priceless, so EMI and CBS are you