Though Mother Earth is often remembered as a vehicle for Tracy Nelson, Living With the Animals is a true group effort, combining memorable vocal performances with tight R&B-derived playing with excellent guitar work from Michael Bloomfield. Side one is a showcase for Nelson's blues belting and piano, particularly on "Down So Low" and "Mother Earth." Not to be overlooked is the blues shuffle "I Did My Part" and R.P. St. John's sardonic "Living With the Animals" and "Marvel Set," which features him on lead vocals. Side two doesn't hold up quite as well, though there are stellar moments here as well, including "Cry On" and "Goodnight Nelda Grebe," with fine horn section work and excellent Nelson vocals. Written and fronted by St. John, "The Kingdom of Heaven Is Within You" is a brilliant closer; it's nocturnal, moody, and spacy and showcases beautiful muted trumpets and reeds with a gorgeous flute solo by Link Davis Jr. The album was reissued on CD by Wounded Bird in 2004.
Living with the Animals Review
by J.P. Ollio