Released a month ahead of its U.K. counterpart, with which it shared only seven of its 12 tracks, the Animals' first American album is an entertaining assortment of the recent LP sessions, plus both sides of their first two singles ("Baby Let Me Take You Home" and, of course, "House of the Rising Sun") and one further B-side, "Blue Feeling" (from the newly released "Boom Boom" single). The presence of that latter track, incidentally, would see British collectors spend much of the next 27 years searching for American pressings, before it finally found its way onto a full U.K. release; that matter notwithstanding, however, both permutations of the album offer up a handsome representation of precisely what the Animals meant at this time, a drawling, dirty R&B (with the emphasis on the B) sound personified in the three assaults on the Chuck Berry songbook. The bread and butter of virtually every band on the circuit of the time, the Animals' versions of "Around and Around," "Memphis," and "Talkin' 'Bout You" are far removed from the clear-cut visions served up elsewhere in the British Invasion. Eric Burdon's gleeful retelling of what, by Berry's normal standards, is the somewhat cutesy tale of "Memphis," is still second only to the decade-later Faces' version in terms of fashioning drama from the document, while it would take a souped-up Bowie and the Spiders to bring more sense of movement to "Around and Around." The remainder of the set sees the group moving further afield in search of material, with Fats Domino's "I've Been Around" also extending their studio prowess by recruiting a female chorus to chase Burdon through the lyric. Another Domino number, "I'm in Love Again," reinforces the band's obvious admiration for the New Orleans scene -- although the fact that the same city plays host to the action of "House of the Rising Sun" was probably more fortuitous than intended. That latter song, of course, dominates the album, even in the cruelly truncated edited version that is included here. What has to be admired, then, is the manner in which The Animals refuses to try and follow it up -- indeed, the only other "trad. arranged by" credit in the band's recorded repertoire, "Bury My Body," was among the U.K. album tracks omitted from the American set.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson