The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

Firstly, isn’t The Animals a great name for a band? I was reading Guns, Cash and Rock ‘n’ Roll recently, about the great band managers, and I have to confess I was a bit surprised by just how close the band apparently came to being absolutely fucking massive.

I mean, they were big enough as it is, but apparently the status they have now represents considerable underachievement considering what seemed on the table for the band at the time, and actually, with the exception of a few covers, I can only really think of two of their songs which I myself know all that well.

The obvious one is the obvious one, of course, but as a kid I always preferred We Gotta Get Out of This Place. For some reason there was something about the lyrics which appealed to me at that age, and it’s only recently that it’s slowly dawned on me what an absolutely stunning job they made of House of the Rising Sun.

That seems ridiculous, given how monumentally famous their version is, and even more so given the number of versions I’ve heard recently as I’ve explored old folk music and early field recording collections. Nevertheless, we bought a copy of the single recently on 7″ picture disc, so when I make compilations of random 7″ singles for driving it tends to get picked quite a lot and suddenly it’s started to dawn on me how absolutely brilliant the tune is.

It tends to be cited for the brilliance of the organ playing, which is pretty fucking incredible, but the guitar is brilliant as well. A bit jangly, really menacing, and so perfect for the loose and raucous way they play the song.

It seems stupid to suddenly be excited about a song which is not only widely considered to be a classic, but which I myself have been perfectly well aware of since I was a kid, but because of how I’ve been listening to it I’ve suddenly been paying a lot more close attention to this tune in the last little while and fuck me it genuinely does deserve its lofty status, doesn’t it.