Pigs might fly – and they do when things are related to Pink Floyd’s Animals! One of Battersea Power Station’s most defining moments was when the rock group decided to use an inflatable pig suspended between the power station’s iconic chimneys. If you had not known, the pig broke its cables and flew away! It flew to about 30,000 feet and was lost from view, before eventually being found in a farmer’s field in Kent! It had not given the album’s cover creators Hipgnosis, time to get some proper established shots which involved the pig facing a certain direction. As events ensued, the pig featured on the 1977 album cover had to be put there post production. Ultimate Classic Rock explains what happened when three attempts failed to produce the kind of picture the producers were looking for.
The flying pig seen at Battersea Power Station on the first day of shooting, 2nd December 1976. Source: Twitter
A great colour picture of the original flying pig at Battersea in 1976 – it was not in the position Hipgnosis wanted however! Source: Twitter
The pig, known as Algie, revisited the power station for another Floyd album in 2011, and its made the grade once again for this 2021 (well 2018) remix of the famous album. The latest reiteration of the flying pig seems to have been edited into the new picture however.
Below is Pink Floyd’s album cover as it was originally rendered in 1977. This is the square shaped LP album format, which means a fair bit of cropping had to be undertaken to fit the image to that shape. Larger version images were presented inside the album and these showed more of the railway in the foreground which served the power station complex – as can be seen in the next picture further down.
The 1977 album cover as it was rendered. Like all Pink Floyd albums it was shrink wrapped in plastic and had various inserts and posters inside. Most editions came with an ‘Animals’ sticker on the plastic, much in the trend of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here which too had untitled album covers. Source: Twitter
What intrigued me is this time round it was decided to utilise the railway lines and the Grosvenor carriage sidings to the south of Victoria station with the power station directly behind. Its the first time Pink Floyd have very positively featured railways on their albums. Certainly there are railways on the original Animals cover however the way the cover was rendered was it was more of a dystopian view rather than a dedicated industrial scene. Which is why the new cover is such a huge change. Its nice also to see a great view of the railway (as well as the power station itself) is being used. The angle of the railway also helps because its on a rise upwards to cross the River Thames on a bridge, and the elevation of the shot makes it look as if the railway and power station are right next to each other, when in fact there’s a fair bit of space between the two.
A larger image from the Animals cover, usually featured on the inside of the album, showing the railway infrastructure better – especially the curved shed at the bottom of the picture. Source: Wallpaper Pass
One will no doubt notice the quite dark and broody atmosphere of the 1977 album cover. It was done like that for a particular reason. The following text from Festival Peak might help to understand why the 1977 cover was produced as it was, in ways better than even I could explain.
‘…in January 1977, the massive brick cathedral structure became something else: an oppressive symbol of a dystopian society depicted on the cover of Animals, the 10th album from Pink Floyd. More than 40 years later, the album cover art for Animals continues to demonstrate how powerful design can take something from the everyday world and present it in an entirely new context.’ (Source: Festival Peak)
In fact the 1977 original has railways and railway sheds which are simply not there anymore. Its all modern developments and expensive apartments. Thus its impossible to recreate the 1977 view.
The answer therefore has been to use a new perspective which has elements that give a similar sort of feel to the original. This view can be seen from Ebury Bridge Road just to the south of Victoria station – as my photograph below shows. From here one can clearly see railway sheds and curving railway tracks, both elements which are visible in the 1977 album cover.
Picture I took specially on the same day Roger Waters announced the new album’s release!
Its a nice touch in fact for the new cover which is shown below! Clearly it was taken at dusk with dark clouds in order to convey a sort of slightly dystopian feeling. The presence of the cranes sort of make it more difficult to recreate the feeling the 1977 cover had however, but knowing London as it is now, these cranes are everywhere and its difficult to avoid them!
The new album cover featuring remixed tracks from the Pink Floyd’s 1977 work. Source: You Tube
There’s perhaps another reason for the use of a picture from a few years ago (rather than a 2021 view) and that could be because the power station itself is half demolished. It might surprise some to learn its been almost totally rebuilt (the west side wall, chimneys, floors, everything) as part of the vastly expensive capitalist and gentrification projects which are emerging all around it. Thus a half demolished power station building looks more dystopian than any present view of it would, such as that photograph I took on 1st June 2021 which shows a vastly upgraded and modernised structure.
Roger Waters has this You Tube video which explains the new album and the issues that caused the delay of its release.