The Deluxe BBC Files
Amid the wealth of Animals discs on the market today, both mainstream and underground, Deluxe BBC Files ranks among the handful that are truly indispensable, two discs that range through the group’s (more-or-less) complete BBC sessions log — a total of 45 live performances, none of which are commercially available; then pad that out with the super-rare "Gratefully Dead" b-side, and a handful more songs recorded in the US, on the Ed Sullivan and Hullabaloo television shows.

Covering both the original band and its subsequent Eric Burdon And… incarnation, the set’s only serious drawback is the total disregard for chronology, a happenstance that sees the ears spinning from brutal R&B to maddening Psychedelia from one track to the next. The absence of any hard track info, too, is disappointing - you can make an educated guess at when the hit songs were recorded, but there’s a crop of numbers here that you’ve never heard the Animals perform before, and who knows when they were taped?

Such complaints, however, are for the record collectors and archivists to whine about. As a straightforward listening experience, Deluxe BBC Files catches one (or two) of Britain’s best ever bands pounding through no less than 54 performances, including raw takes on "Good Times," "San Francisco Nights," "Monterey," "Paint It Black"… "Heartbreak Hotel," "Ain’t That A Shame," "Shake Rattle And Roll"… "House of the Rising Sun," "We Gotta get Out Of This Place," "Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood"… all human-imal life is here, and the only problem you’ll have is, just how loud should you be playing it? - Dave Thompson

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September 29, 2006