Old dogs, no new tricks.
As the ‘60s morphed into the ‘70s, groups like The Animals, though still celebrated, were considered to be long in the tooth, and clearly the group thought so too, finally disbanding (after several line-up changes) in 1969, for good it seemed. But then something miraculous happened. In 1977, the original line-up of Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler, Hilton Valentine, and John Steel put aside their differences and decided that it was time to make another album, in an attempt to capture as much of the old magic as was possible – not easy, considering that it had been eleven years since they’d last recorded together.
But based on their performances here, one would hardly even notice, because Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted is a fine record indeed, perhaps their best since 1965’s Animal Tracks. Although the production is certainly cleaner (The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio was utilised) than anything produced under Mickie Most, make no mistake, this is an Animals album from start to end, even if most of the songs are covers (they were never prolific songwriters anyway).
Leiber and Stoller’s “Brother Bill (The Last Clean Shirt)” is the opener, and while nowhere near as raucous as some of their earlier material, it proves that none of the original members had lost their musical flare. Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” is given a sombre passionate rendering, with Burdon hitting the high notes just as he did when younger, while on “Fire On The Sun” the chemistry between the quintet is on full display.
Unlike contemporaries The Kinks, The Animals were far superior interpreters of the blues, and their version of Jimmy Reed’s “As The Crow Flies” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love” (by Percy Mayfield, of “Hit The Road Jack” fame) are slow burners, best listened to in the late hours of night.
A stirring “Many Rivers To Cross” kicks off side two, throughout which Burdon reminds us of just what a powerful singer he can be, followed by the Booker-T & The MGs inspired “Just A Little Bit.” “Riverside County” is the only Animals penned tune, and it’s pretty good. Nothing remarkable mind you, but good, and what some commentators in the ‘60s might have described as ‘really groovy.’
Doc Pomus’ “Lonely Avenue” is another late night blues number, with some excellent fretwork by Valentine, and gospel keyboards by Price. By the time album closer “The Fool” comes on, one could easily be mistaken for thinking it was still 1965, but in the best possible way of course, since nowadays few appeared to be all that bothered by such things as dates and trends, because ultimately, whether it was recorded in 1937, 1957, or 1977, is something which no longer seems to matter, as it’s all about the music.
Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted contains not one bad track, despite the lack of a “It’s My Life” or “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Yet that shouldn’t prevent the listener from investigating further its virtues. Unlike The Byrds’ reunion a few years earlier, expectations weren’t so high, thus allowing The Animals to be themselves and do what they did best, namely play rock, blues and R&B albeit in a style that came with an assured British accent.