As hard as it is to believe, there was no single-disc collection that contained all of the Animals' greatest hits until Raven Records released Absolute Animals 1964-1968 in 2003. Prior to this, compilations were devoted to one of three distinct eras. First, there were the first recordings that they made with producer Mickie Most, which included "House of the Rising Sun," "I'm Crying," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," and "It's My Life." Then, they severed ties with Most, recording the acclaimed Animalisms album and having hits with "Inside, Looking Out," "Help Me Girl," and "Don't Bring Me Down" before imploding. Lead singer Eric Burdon then assembled a new version of the group, putting his name above the Animals in their official billing, and cut several psychedelic recordings and singles, including "San Franciscan Nights," "Monterey," and "Sky Pilot." Since each of these three eras were owned by different labels, there were many legal obstacles to assembling a definitive comp with all three eras being represented equally, but Raven managed to do an excellent job with the 20-track Absolute Animals (note: the final track is four minutes of interviews, bringing the total songs to 19). All of the singles mentioned above are featured here, along with other highlights like "Boom Boom," "Bring It on Home to Me," "See See Rider," and "When I Was Young." Perhaps some of the early recordings are glossed over -- "Gonna Send You Back to Walker," "Story of Bo Diddley," and "Bury My Body" all arguably hold up better than some of the later psychedelicized tracks -- but frankly, it's a relief to have one compilation that has all the hits from all the incarnations on one disc. Not only that, but it's hard to imagine a single-disc that would tell a complete Animals history as succinctly as this essential disc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine