The Animals: We’re Gonna Howl Tonight – [Record 199]

The Animals: We’re Gonna Howl Tonight.

So far as i can tell, there isn’t a WIki for this album, This might be because it was only released in April of 2015. So instead of leaving this space blank, i’m going to copy out the information printed on the back of the sleeve.

Personnel: Eric Burdon – Vocals. Hilton Valentine – Guitar. Alan Price – Organ, Piano. Chaz Chadler – Bass. John Steele – Drums. First recording published in 1964.

Side One.
1. We’re Gonna Howl Tonight.
2. Baby What’s Wrong.
3. Rosie.
4. I Can’t Believe It.
5. Work Song.
6. Gonna Send You Back To Georgia.
7. Dimples.

Side Two.
8. C.C. Rider.
9. Heartbreak Hotel.
10. Corina, Corina.
11. House of the Rising Sun.
12. Boom Boom.
13. Talkin’ Bout You.

December 15th 1964. A transit van pulls up outside the Olympic Ballroom in Reading, Berkshire. It has been a long cold journey down from Newcastle. Five men exit the van and struggle to unload their instruments in the icy conditions. Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price, John Steele, and Hilton Valentine, Know collectively as The Animals are about to embark on an exciting new challenge. Having already conquered their home crowds at clubs like the Downbeat and the Club A Go Go, this is their first venture down south. They must now win over the kids at the Ricky Tick R&B Club afternoon session held at the Olympic between 3 and 5:30 before heading that evening to London to face a very critical crowd in the form of the hip regulars at The Scene Club.

Despite their somewhat scruffy appearance and what appeared to be homemade haircuts, their pure gutsy performances are welcomed by both sets of fans. Maybe in the latest craze of middle class art school types adopting the blues, at least the Animals could fall back on their tough working class upbringing to sound convincing.

Mickey Most, the producer was certainly impressed and offered the band a recording contract for Columbia records. He also chose that tune ‘Baby Let Me Take You Home’ – a song whose basis lay in an old 50’s blues tune by Eric Von Schmidt and covered later by Bob Dylan in 1962. Interestingly enough ‘Baby Let Me Take You Home’ is credited to American songwriter Bert Russell and Wes Farrell although the single just states ‘traditional arrangement Price’ (Alan Price). The band hated the song preferring flipside ‘Gonna Send You Back To Georgia’.

Most had been correct in his choice and the band found themselves promoting the single on Ready Steady Go on March 20th. Burdon’s somewhat awkward performance still seemed to go down well and after the number, presenter Keith Fordyce asks if Burdon is ‘the guvnor of the band’. Eric was quick to dismiss this and tells him the band ‘are a co-operative’ and stting he hopes it’s successful as ‘they need the bread’. The song peaked at 21 in the charts.

In May that year Guy Stevens, one of the DJ’s from the Scene Club, had set up the first UK tour of Chuck Berry. Amongst the British acts asked to support him were The Animals. Realising that the other support acts would probably play Berry covers even though playing with the man himself, the band sought a new number. This came in the form of a haunting traditional song ‘The House of the Rising Sun’, which had also been covered by Bob Dylan. They rehearsed it live at three gigs at the Cafe A Go Go prior to the tour and crowd reaction was good.

During the Berry tour, the slow paced song, sang as their finale, stood out amongst their high tempo set and became a crowd favourite. The band were so pleased that they convinced reluctant Mickie Most to record it. On May 18th they found themselves at a recording studio in Kingsway and did the song in one take.

The Single was released on June 19th and that evening the band performed the song on RSG! By July 7th it was number one. Two mouths later it was the first British number one in the US since the Beatles.

In September their first self-penned single ‘I’m Crying’ (Burdon/Price) was released and made number 8 in the UK charts. So it came as something of a shook a month later when their debut self-titled LP was released containing twelve tracks, and none of the singles were featured. Instead it featured twelve tracks of covers including two by Chuck Berry and two from a blues man they greatly admired, John Lee Hooker. Sadly it highlighted the fact that there was no song writing partnership within the group.

When the band made their first trip to America in November, they were number one in the US charts with ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Sadly due to a clampdown at the airport, after the security expense of The Beatles visit, there were no crowds to greet them. They were then transported from John F. Kennedy airport into New Your in a motorcade of five Sunbeam Alpine IV convertibles each containing a band member and a girl model but not many recognised who the band were. The group then performed ‘I’m Crying’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ on the Ed Sullivan show. American youths were won over too.

From the start of 1964 things had moved very fast and the band seemed to be very successful and set to be wealthy. Soon though it became clear that there was no money, which was strange seeing that ‘House of the Rising Sun’ had been number one for three weeks and sold over a million copies in five weeks in the US alone. The truth is that, as nobody could identify the original writer of the folk song, anybody could lay claim to it. On the Animals version, only Alan Price is credited as the arranger, therefore he could claim all the royalties leaving the rest of the band pot-less. This was for from the co-operative that Burdon had mentioned earlier that year.

Through 1965, internal pressures in the group led to Alan Price leaving the band in May, claiming fear of flying on tours but in reality the feelings between the other band members against Price had come to a peak. Price was replaced by keyboardist Dave Rowberry of the Mike Cotton Sound.

The band began to disintegrate whilst touring as both Burdon and guitarist Hilton Valentine experimented with LSD, having been introduced to the drug by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. The other band members tried to carry the band through but it became impossible.

During a tour of Japan, Burdon and Chadler both agreed to call it a day but the band were due o tour of America at the start of 1966. During February that year John Steele finally snapped and left the band. The rest of the band stayed together another seven months before finally calling it quits in September.

Sadly the band never made money citing Price and manager Mike Jeffery as their downfall. From 1964 to 1966 they gave us nine top twenty hits. This album features them during that first successful year when they sounded so fresh and exciting.

– Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson.

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