Review : Pink Floyd - The Wall (Immersion Edition)
PopmattersIt would require much hubris of me to suggest that I have any more to say about this album than has already been said. I was born 12 years after the release of the record, and I’m writing about it 33 years after its release. Scholars with many more credentials than I have analyzed pink Floyd’s discography. The hooks of tracks like “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Hey You” are known better by people who lived through this album. As devoted of a progressive rock fan I am, I am in a position that critics much greater than I once occupied. To say the least, making a comment about this record made me pause.
Yet as I looked through the extensive box set that EMI crafted, I realized that there really was only one thing I could say about the album. Once I had looked through the photography that gives a beautiful snapshot of the extravagant live shows for the album, listened to the demo tracks that thoroughly show the nascent stages of what would become the album, and once again read the album’s lyrics, one sentence summed it all up:
The Wall is a masterpiece.
It’s an underwhelming statement, I know. The statement is especially underwhelming given all of the stops EMI pulled out in the production of the Immersion edition of this legendary concept record. But that was all that needed to be said, and the simplicity of that statement by no means undercuts the complexity of The Wall. After 33 years, the record’s criticism of institutional corruption, its depiction of angst and loneliness, and most of all the music remain as powerful testaments to the legacy of Pink Floyd. While The Wall may not be the band’s finest moment (I would argue that title belongs to their 1975 release Wish You Were Here), it is still a great moment, and further evidence of the band’s consistency in their 1970’s LPs. My primary focus here will be on the bonus material found in the Immersion box set, as much of what I have to say about The Wall has already been said. Before I do that, however, I’ll speak a little to the album itself....full text
RollingstoneThere was agreement, at first. In the summer of 1978, Roger Waters, Pink Floyd's singer-bassist and primary songwriter, presented the other members with two sets of demos and a choice: Pick one for the next album. The rest of the Floyd wisely voted for Waters' bleak, enraged observation on emotional exile and totalitarian celebrity, provisionally titled Bricks in the Wall. (The other demos became Waters' 1984 midlife-crisis opera, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.) It was also a disastrous decision. The Floyd fell into eventually fatal throes of conflict and division on the way to the 1979 album's grim, towering splendor. Waters designed, and the band built, The Wall too well.
Immersion is a good way to characterize the grip and whirl of construction recounted on the two CDs of demos in this seven-disc box, which includes a previously released recording of the 1980-81 stage show. (An Experience edition has the original album and a single CD of demos.) Excerpts of Waters' early sketches are sequenced into a stark vertigo of his contempt ("Mother") and despair ("Goodbye Cruel World") at birth. Later band demos – "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" as a crisp funeral march instead of disco revolt; "The Doctor," a prototype of "Comfortably Numb" – and discarded ideas like the plaintive "Teacher, Teacher" and the static blues "Sexual Revolution" prove development came slow if steady. It is obvious, too, that Waters' authoritarian drive was not enough to get this job done. The crucial difference between Waters' initial notion of "Run Like Hell" – slow, snarky bullying – and the perversely gleaming menace of the final version is in David Gilmour's demo of jangling commandant's-strut guitar....full text
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