The House of the Rising Sun (4:16)

Cover of The Animals

From The Animals and 170 other releases

“The House of the Rising Sun” is a folk song from the United States. Also called “House of the Rising Sun” or occasionally “Rising Sun Blues”, it tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans. Depending on the version, the song may be sung from the perspective of a woman or a man. The most successful version was recorded by the English rock group The Animals in 1964, which was a number one hit in the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and Canada. The Animals’ version was also a part of the soundtrack for the Martin Scorsese 1995 film Casino.

The Animals had begun featuring their arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun” during a joint concert tour with Chuck Berry, using it as their closing number to differentiate themselves from acts which always closed with straight rockers. It got a tremendous reaction from the audience, convincing initially reluctant producer Mickie Most that it had hit potential, and between tour stops the group went to a small recording studio on Kingsway in London to capture it.

Recorded in just one take on 18 May 1964, it started with a famous electric guitar A minor chord arpeggio by Hilton Valentine. The performance took off with Eric Burdon’s lead vocal, which has been variously described as “howling”, “soulful”, and “deep and gravelly as the north-east English coal town of Newcastle that spawned him.” Finally, Alan Price’s pulsating organ part completed the sound (see Vox Continental).

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