When Snowy White laid down a guitar solo for Pink Floyd‘s 1977 album Animals, he didn’t suspect it would go unheard by most fans.
His contribution to “Pigs on the Wing” only appeared on the 8-track edition of the album and died with the format in the early ’80s — until the internet revived it.
The 8-track tape (formally known as Stereo 8) found success in the automobile world because the tape inside was looped. No action was necessary to flip between sides of the tape, or for the album to start playing again once it finished. But the format also had notable restrictions.
For one, it wasn’t possible to adjust the fixed length of the four stereo tracks, meaning that songs were often cut in the middle. A common solution was to fade the song out toward the end of one track, then fade it back in at the start of the next, rewinding the master tape a few seconds so that – despite the rude interruption – the listener didn’t actually miss out on any music.
For another, the order of songs sometimes had to change to deal with the fixed length of the four tracks. It worked on a technical level, but it was hardly ideal for artists who specialized in the album format, such as Pink Floyd.
When the prog icons faced these issues on the 8-track version of Animals, they came up with a solution of their own. While “Dogs” was split into two pieces, the band took a more refined approach to “Pigs on the Wing (Part One)” and “Pigs on the Wing (Part Two),” which respectively opened and closed the standard edition. They decided to stitch the tracks together as one long song at the beginning of the 8-track version.
Listen to Pink Floyd’s 8-Track Version of ‘Pigs on the Wing’
After accidentally erasing one of David Gilmour‘s takes, the band tasked White with cutting a solo that would bridge both parts of “Pigs on the Wing.” His solo appears exclusively on the 8-track version of Animals and has taken on a mythical status among Pink Floyd fans. The Blind Man Sees All blog noted that as Pink Floyd continued to reissue their catalog, the alternate “Pigs on the Wing” “became the only commercially unavailable piece of music the band had ever officially released.”
White’s solo was the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision. Pink Floyd had invited the guitarist to the studio and offered him a position in their touring band without hearing him play a note. After White accepted, Roger Waters decided to put his skills to the test.
“We went back into the control room, and as I’m passing Roger, he said, ‘Hey, while you’re here, you might as well play something. Why don’t you play a solo in the middle of this track?'” White told Vinyl Writer Music in 2022. “As it turns out, that track was ‘Pigs on the Wing.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, alright. No worries,’ and I picked up a guitar at random. … I did a quick and quiet sort of run-through, and then Roger said, ‘OK, ready?’… ‘Yeah, alright,’ and then Roger pressed the red button, and started recording.
“I went through the solo, and what you hear is the first take,” White continued. “There was no other. I got lucky! I mean with something like that, you never know, and I had no idea what they even wanted. They just let me have at it, and I did it in one cut.”
Top 25 Psychedelic Rock Albums
Blues, folk, world music – no genre escaped the kaleidoscopic pull of the ’60s’ trippiest sound.
Why Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Roger Waters Are Still Fighting