The Animals: The Mickie Most Years and More
As was the case with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the early albums by The Animals were often significantly different in the U.K. and the U.S. In the States, the band—arguably the rawest among the first wave of seminal British R&B combos—was signed to MGM Records, which they released five albums for between their emergence in the fall of 1964 and the end of ‘66. The first four of those—collected in this boxed set by ABKCO, for many years the rights holder to the recordings—were produced by Mickie Most, a visionary whose other clients included Donovan, Herman’s Hermits and Jeff Beck and who understood innately what the Eric Burdon-fronted group was going for. Each of the albums—The Animals, The Animals on Tour (not a live album), Animal Tracks and Animalization—includes major AM radio hits but some of the highlights are the deep album tracks that never made the radio, including Little Richard’s “The Girl Can’t Help It” on the debut and Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City” on the sophomore release. Here a passel of bonus tracks (stereo and single versions, radio spots) bulk up the original albums but don’t redefine them. The flimsy package is no-frills—the five CDs (the fifth is a four-track EP), liner notes by David Fricke, a T-shirt—but the music remains startlingly vibrant all these decades later.