The Animals: Two of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

The Animals
Origin: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Genres: Rock, R&B, blues, psychedelia

The Animals formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. Fronted by the deep-voiced Eric Burdon, the band was known for its gritty, bluesy sound. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994

Eric Burdon came in Number 57 on a Rolling Stone poll of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. The Animals have two songs in the Rock & Roll Hall of fame's list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Of the first run of British bands who rose to fame in America, 
none were tougher and more forbidding than the Animals. 

Single: House of the Rising Sun
Album: The Animals
B-side: Talkin' 'bout You
Released: June 19, 1964 (UK)
Released: August 8, 1964 (US)
Genre: Folk rock, blues rock
Producer: Mickie Most

"House of the Rising Sun" was the Animals' breakthrough hit. Number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and in the US, it became their signature song. In 2004, the band's version of "The House of the Rising Sun" ranked Number 123 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It's one of two Animals' songs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Like many folk songs, the author of  "The House of the Rising Sun is unknown. Its roots are likely in the tradition of English folk songs. The  Roud Folk Song Index includes the tune number 6393. The earliest known recording is from September 6, 1933. Appalachian artists Tom Ashley and Gwen Foster taped it under "Rising Sun Blues." 

In 1941, Woody Guthrie recorded a versionLead Belly recorded two versions of the song: on February 1944, called "In New Orleans," and in October 1948,  "The House of the Rising Sun." Nina Simone recorded her first version for the live album Nina at the Village Gate in 1962. 

 In late 1961, Bob Dylan recorded the song for his debut album, released in March 1962. According to Animals' drummer John Steel, Dylan told him he first heard their cover on his car radio. He stopped to listen, jumped out of the auto, and banged on the hood. It inspired Dylan to go electric. 

We've Gotta Get Out of This Place
Single: The Animals
B-side: I Can't Believe It
Released: July 16, 1965 (UK)
Released: August 1965 (US)
Genre: Blues rock
Songwriters: Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Producer: Mickie Most

"We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals reached number 2 on the UK and Canadian singles chart and 13 in the US. In 2003, the track ranked Number 235 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It's one of two Animals' songs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. 

When the husband and wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," it was intended for the Righteous Brothers. The duo hit a number-one with the couple's last song, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." They recorded a demo, with Mann singing and playing piano.

But then Mann got a recording contract for himself. His label wanted him to release it instead. Meanwhile, record executive Allen Klein gave the demo tape to The Animals' producer, Mickie Most. Most were looking for American material to break the band in the States with their next US album release, Animal Tracks.

Animal Tracks US album cover

The UK and US single releases were versions of the same recording sessions. EMI, the Animals' parent record company, mistakenly sent MGM, the group's American label, a cut that still needed to be selected for release elsewhere.

The two versions are most easily differentiated by the lyric at the beginning of the second verse: in the US version, the song is, "See my daddy in bed a-dyin'," while the UK version uses, "Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin.'"


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