The Beatles launched the British beat boom in 1962 but were not the only band from a tough Northern port playing R&B, blues and rock’n’roll. Nor were they the toughest-sounding. That accolade goes to The Animals, who deserve to perch far higher up the rock’n’roll pecking order than they do. The Animals had everything: a fiery, magnetic singer in Eric Burdon; an acute understanding and passion for Black American music; a raw heavyweight sound that didn’t even try to be refined, despite the brilliance of musicians such as organist Alan Price and guitarist Hilton Valentine. And their rhythm section of Chas Chandler (bass) and John Steel (drums) rocked. While The Rolling Stones were still getting their sound together, The Animals emerged fully formed, dishing out a loud, moving and roughneck R&B that became a huge influence on US garage rock, psychedelia – even folk-rock. Every note they played sounded like they meant it; each song was studded with the grit of the city they grew up in. They may have worn suits at first, but you believed The Animals were hard-living, wild creatures, because they were. Here to prove it are the 10 best songs by The Animals.
Listen to the best of The Animals here, and check out our best Animals songs, below.
10: Baby Let Me Take You Home (UK single A-side; ‘The Animals’ US album track, 1964)
In March 1964, The Animals opened their recording career as they meant to carry on: loud, nasty and raw as a lion’s dinner. Baby Let Me Take You Home’s opening guitar riff is oddly complex; Alan Price’s baroque organ opened the ears of a thousand Farfisa-fingering US kids over the next few years. The sound is oddly thin and organised, however; it was like nobody knew how to get their attitude down on wax as yet. This quickly changed. What separated this song from the pack of other Brit R&B hopefuls was the arresting presence of frontman Eric Burdon. You knew full well that when he wanted to take you home, baby, it wasn’t to meet his mother. Clearly this mob were a band to watch. And then some.