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Pink Floyd - The Wall CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.08 | 2711 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is my 100th review on the site, and i thought that it really needed to be an exceptional album to celebrate this personal landmark.

Well, there aren't many more exceptional than this, the last of the great Floyd quartet that started with Dark Side of the Moon.

This album has never been one to approach lightly. It certainly isn't one that will be playing on your deck each and every night of the week. No, this is like one of those fine wines, a work to be savoured occasionally and treated with the huge respect it deserves.

The album was born out of two major events in Roger Waters' life. On the preceding Animals tour, he had become so disillusioned with the music business, as witnessed initially in Welcome To The Machine from Wish You Were Here, and the horrendous stadia the band were now obliged to play in on US tours, in particular, that he felt a terrible disconnection between the band and audience. This culminated in him spitting upon a fan in Canada when the said fan refused to listen to new material, screaming instead for "classic" stuff. In addition, the band had lost a fortune through the crash and financial management of Norton Warberg. They needed a hit album, and one fast, at that.

Waters had, of course, touched on themes of the war, modern society, and disenchantment in previous works. This was, though, to be the culmination of all of those themes into one coherent whole.

Many contributors to this site have argued that Walters is merely a moaner, and was not unique from his generation in having his father die during the war. The latter is certainly true. However, I think they miss the point a bit. Wars tend to produce very exceptional, and rare, written artists who seem to encapsulate the horrors and futility of it all, such as Remarque. In much the same way, I believe Waters spoke for an entire generation scarred by the horrors of losing a parent or loved ones during that conflict.

The album then takes us through a narrative on sides one through to three of a young boy growing up without his father, cast into an uncaring and unemotional school career, with an overbearing mother, through to adolescence, marriage, divorce, and, latterly, rock super stardom.

The great dividing line in the narrative is Comfortably Numb at the end of side three. For it is there that the semi autobiographical nature of the story is ripped asunder, and we then deal on side four with the true disengagement of artist from audience, and the slide into megalomaniac madness, with Pink at the head of a crazed fascist like movement before being cast asunder by society into the madhouse by the establishment judge reestablishing order. This part has always been played by Waters with utter glee live.

That, therefore, describes the narrative, one that spoke to many people at the end of the seventies such as me, an angry young man despairing of the world. It still does, by the way, as an angry middle aged man.

This would be essential enough, but, of course, it would be nothing without the music as well, and, on this score, the band reach such heights that are only dreamed of by other mere mortal bands.

There are so many highlights on this. Ironically, Brick in the Wall part two became a monster smash hit in the Christmas of 1979. I still, to this day, cannot believe the sheer dark beauty, with the images of killer bombers, in Goodbye Blue Sky, which, to these ears, features some of the loveliest guitar and vocals ever performed by Gilmour.

Any man who has had a row with a loved one, which has turned morbidly dark and angry, will empathise with One Of My Turns, culminating in objects being thrown out of a window in glorious surround sound. Equally, the joys of sowing one's oats are explored brilliantly in Young Lust, featuring a classic rock riff by Gilmour.

Gilmour continued to play the two most popular tracks on the album, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell, live long after Waters left. They are stunning. I saw the band perform live at Earls Court on the original tour, and i still have shivers running down my spine each time THAT guitar solo is played at the end of Comfortably Numb. An incredible piece of music.

I would also add here Hey You, the first track of side three, a plaintive plea from behind the wall to anyone passing who might just catch a glimpse of madness and come to the rescue, which features such delicate playing and vocals that you could cry in sympathy.

I can think of only one artist who could possibly match Waters' sense of theatre and narrative, and that is Pete Townsend. Like Townsend in The Who, by the time the Wall was released, Waters was the driving force behind the band, with the rest as a kind of "surrogate band" (this was not an accident, by the way, in the stage show). But what a surrogate band! Richard Wright, on his way out, plays superbly, Mason is reliable as ever, whilst Gilmour utterly excels.

Politics, you know, does matter. This is a political album, as well as being a personal and social narrative. It works on each and every level that it explores, and I simply love it.

Many albums have been awarded five stars on this site, many of them, I suspect, would be worth nine stars on a ten point rating. Not this one. The full five stars, or ten if you like, for a cultural landmark and an utterly essential album without which no prog collection would be entirely complete.

Thanks for indulging me on a long review, and peace and love to all.

lazland | 5/5 |


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