A common tendency is to dismiss the Animals II as a cash-in effort by the surviving members of the original Animals, but the recorded evidence, coupled with their successful touring, indicates that they're more than that. Initially organized in the spring of 1993 by guitarist Hilton Valentine as a vehicle for performing songs by his old group the Animals, the Animals II added original drummer John Steel to its lineup the following year, and the group found success playing throughout England, America, western and northern Europe, and the newly freed countries of the former Soviet bloc. During the mid- to late '90s, their lineup consisted of Valentine, Steel, and Robert Kane on lead vocals, Steve Dawson on guitar, Steve Hutchinson on keyboards, and Martin Bland on bass. In August of 1999, keyboard player Dave Rowberry, who had played on several of the group's hits from May of 1965 through the end of 1966, joined the lineup along with Jim Rodford, a bassist (previously with Argent and the Kinks) who had played with Rowberry in his pre-Animals band, the Mike Cotton Sound, with Tony Liddle coming in on vocals. Although initially organized to play Animals songs -- which do make up the vast majority of the group's set -- the Animals II have occasionally added new numbers to their repertory and cut a very impressive CD of the best of their material.
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