Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Song of the Week: "Inside-Looking Out", The Animals

{right click here to listen to the song in another window while you read this article}

The last Song of the Week for the decade! And without doubt or hesitation or even a semblance of second guessing, I can tell you emphatically that our SOTW, this week, is my favorite Animals song ever. It is, I dare say, a perfect song. The song is called Inside-Looking Out and was recorded for Decca Records in 1966.

Let me tell you how I came to this song. Back in my high school days (or more likely shortly thereafter) in the 80s, I went out to a party with some of my lesser quality friends. The party was a dud and I sat in the living room with my mates picking through our hosts' father's records. As was always the case back then, it was a repository of 60's dinosaurs, and a few faded 70's soft rock records. I don't really recall, but he probably had the typical crappy Herb Alpert albums (though I always linger of the Whip Cream and Other Delights album cover) and the Herman and the Hermits dung heaps. But one could usually still find a good album like a Ray Charles or The Beatles Rubber Soul album. On this particular night, we ran across the US pressing of The Animals' Animalization album. I'm sure that in our always diplomatic way, we yanked off a Duran Duran or Howard Jones album and stuck this on. Just what the teens of the 80's wanted to listen to, right? Well, skip ahead a few hours and this album somehow ended up in the car with us as a newly adopted record. Liberated from it's lesser cousins in this forgotten stack and given a rebirth on a Marantz turntable just a few short blocks away. At home I was able to understand just how damn good this record was. Don't Bring Me Down and See See Rider as the first listen stand-outs. About the same time I picked up my newest issue of Ugly Things, the Mike Stax published fanzine. This would have been something like issue No. 3. In the back, Stax had a Top 10 list of songs that he was digging. One of them was...Inside-looking Out. So I put it on and gave it another listen. Who doggie. That is one hot number.

Inside-Looking Out was recorded as a stunning double sided single in the UK (the uber cool Outcast is the flip-side) and appeared in the US on Animalization and as a single where it flopped like New Coke. It's one of the last recordings with original drummer John Steel and well after band leader and organ player phenom Alan Price had left the band to be replaced by Dave Rowberry. The song was written by the Lomax brothers with Eric Burdon and bassist Chas Chandler. It tells the tale of an incarcerated man who keeps his will to live by dreaming of the day he will be released and, like the record I had in my hand, given a rebirth to live again.

Ice cold waters running in my brain/and they drag me back to work again. Pains and blisters on my minds and my hands. From living daily with those canvas bags/thoughts of freedom they're driving me wild/and I'll be happy like a new born child. We'll be together, girl, you wait and see/no more walls keep your love from me.

Besides Eric Burdon's beautiful pained performance, the song is driven by Chandler's powerfully melodic Gibson EB-2D bass and Hilton Valentine's stabbing guitar work.

It's getting louder. Can't you hear it? I'll be home soon. Whoa!

1 comment:

  1. I just have to respond to my own post (many months later) by re-stating, emphatically, that this is THEE greatest Animals song ever.