The Animals transformed themselves in the '60s, but their early years—1963 to 1966, when they were the toughest blues-based rock ’n’ roll band from Newcastle, England—are beloved by many fans. The Animals' first four American albums, collected here, show that, like their peers, they were largely dependent on covers of old blues songs. “The House of the Rising Sun” was transformed completely, with Eric Burdon snarling the words, Hilton Valentine playing the crisp guitar arpeggios, and Alan Price squeezing emotion from the organ lines. This set starts in 1963 with a four-song EP that’s raw and beautiful. The first two albums are slightly reworked here in their running orders, but they feature many of the Jimmy Reed/Chuck Berry–type songs that The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones were also putting on their albums. Bonus tracks fill things out further, and the hits—“We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “It’s My Life"—are among the era's most defiant. The Tom Wilson–produced Animalization album, with new keyboardist Dave Rowberry, upgrades the sound considerably.