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Animals That Swim


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London, England (1989 – present)

Animals That Swim are a musical group formed in 1989 in London, England by brothers Hugh Barker (guitar) and Hank Starrs (vocals and drums). Eventually, a third brother joined the line-up, Al Barker (guitar), along with Del Crabtree on trumpet. The group have had numerous bassists: Charlie Luciano (original line-up), Crabtree, Dave Harris, Lenie Mets, Anthony Coote and Terry de Castro.

Animals That Swim released their first single, “King Beer”, in 1992 on their own Beachheads In Space label, but came to wider attention with their next two singles, “Roy” (which took the form of an imaginary conversation with the ghost of Roy Orbison) and the 50 Dresses EP. The group won critical acclaim for their mixture of “slice of life” lyrics and magic realism, and their distinctive use of the trumpet as a lead instrument.

The group have released three studio albums - Workshy (1994), I Was the King, I Really Was the King (1996) and Happiness From a Distant Star (2001) - plus a compilation album, Faded Glamour - The Best of Animals That Swim (2004). Following a lengthy hiatus since 2001, the group are currently writing material for an acoustic EP, set for release in 2010.


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  • stella456

    Animals that Swim have released new songs in March 2011 - see

    16 Mar 2011 Reply
  • rob_hillfield

    new ep? cannot. bloody. wait !

    15 Feb 2010 Reply
  • crystaltrips

    Yep, superb band. I love 'East St O'Neill', great storytelling.

    20 Nov 2009 Reply
  • Beat_C

    I Was The King, I Really Was The King is the only album i know - and it's pretty darn good!

    6 Feb 2008 Reply
  • hank_kingsley

    Another band I only found out about way too late. Great stuff...

    26 Jun 2007 Reply
  • GigLister

    I Was The King, I Really Was The King and Faded Glamour - my favourite album and single, respectively, of 1996. The key-change towards the end of FG just makes me go weak at the knees and the line about the shop selling unlabelled tin cans, you just guess what you're going to get, is pure genius

    23 Feb 2007 Reply

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