The Animals' output on EMI has been so heavily reissued and recompiled so many times that none of it is especially rare, or notable for that reason -- it just stands up as music, especially the singles, which are what we have represented here. The compilation CD A's B's & EP's is a handy way of taking a tour of the group's early sound, up through the middle of 1965, boiling down their singles, B-sides, and EP's in excellent sound. It took the group a few tries to really master the art of making a strong album from start to finish, but -- as we're reminded here -- their 45s were beyond reproach, exciting, bold, and daring, and all memorable. Hearing Hilton Valentine's guitar crunching and chiming away on "I'm Crying," or John Steel's drums up close and personal on "Boom Boom," supporting Eric Burdon's voice and juxtaposed with Alan Price's organ, is still a bracing experience 40 years later -- and on this master, Valentine's trip down the fret board and Price's keyboard flourishes exude rippling energy and a bracing presence -- even on cheap speakers, Steel's snare is distinguishable from the rest of the rhythm section; and on "It's My Life" you can practically hear the action on his kit. And this disc is also a good opportunity for low-level fans to discover obscurities such "I'm Gonna Change the World" which, with its ambitious lyric and form, sort of anticipates the later compositions that Burdon would cut, on his own and away from virtually all help. The annotation is nothing special, the packaging has its weaknesses (in terms of the original releases of the songs), and EMI's Complete Animals still runs circles around this CD, but it's an okay piece to have and easier to find than that double-disc set, as of 2004.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder