There's a lot to be said for album orientated music and it's no exaggeration to say that an album can make a band or break them completely and The Wall came very close to ruining The Floyd for which I'll explain later on. This also happens to be my favourite Floydian record and while it was never going to claim the throne of its more famous predecessor in The Dark Side, this is nevertheless well up there in the echelons of importance in PF's discography.
The Wall is a concept album but it's one that has cultural significance, especially at a time where Progressive Rock was being trampled all over and stamped on mercilessly by Punk. The idea was born out of a recent concert during the In The Flesh Tour where Roger Waters took offence by some of the audience being too rowdy, over enthusiastic and not connecting with The Floyd's musical message. The rest of the group agreed that they were being distanced from the music and perhaps that they needed a new direction. There was a feeling of alienation and a metaphorical barrier best personified as a wall which we can now see what it was all about. They also had crippling debts brought on by poor investments and taxation issues, all of which had to be addressed in their next project after Animals.
ALL of the lyrical content is by Waters and The Wall is essentially a rock opera, drawing upon his own personal experiences, eg, the loss of his father in WWII, his overpowering mother and abusive teachers which all make for a troubled childhood, recurring themes throughout the whole piece. They're all viewed as bricks in the wall, another use of the metaphor. The protagonist in it becomes a rock star and lives the obligatory sex drugs and rock n' roll lifestyle until everything and everyone implodes on him spectacularly.
The synopsis begins with the powerful In The Flesh? and how badly things will turn out for the central character Pink followed by The Thin Ice before the first of three instalments of Another Brick In The Wall kick in. The second part is of course the most notable, not only because of its chart success as a single, but also it has a pronounced disco flavour to it before Gilmour's instrumental leads, one of numerous on The Wall which keeps a lid on things before we have a chance to do a big facepalm.
The melodies from ABITW Part II precede a much darker and chilling tone with the pre-apocalyptic Goodbye Blue Sky, the self explanatory Young Lust and One Of My Turns before things come to a head in explosive style at the end of ABITW Part III and Goodbye Cruel World which finally affirms the character's disjointed dissection from reality.
From the Gilmour sung Hey You, the album examines the apparent diminishing possibilities of returning to sanity, alternating this with the war theme dictating most of the second half here. The piano accompanied Nobody Home apparently was written with ex-member Syd Barrett and his mental breakdown in mind as well as Richard Wright's drugs problems.
The next leg begins with Comfortably Numb, and I will concede this is one of the best parts on The Wall as this being one of the rare songwriting credits shared between Waters and Gilmour as well as my favourite track Run Like Hell. Apparently, in their live sets, with the lyrics "They're gonna send you back to Mother in a cardboard box" they replaced Mother with the city they were playing in. Waiting For The Worms continues exploring Pink's inner thoughts as a murderous totalitarian before he halts everything in its tracks and then tries himself in the operatic crescendo The Trial with Mother, his Wife and The Schoolmaster, all testifying for and against his feelings with The Judge eventually ordering him to tear down his wall. The final track Outside The Wall reviews it all from an outsider's perspective.
For those who haven't heard The Wall, it's spikier and a lot more edgy than all of their previous offerings. It's a record that requires your full attention, a narrative you need to listen to right throughout. I'm not going to describe my feelings or express in superlatives this album because as I said earlier, it's my favourite Pink Floyd piece. However, it's best if you have a listen and be the judge of it yourselves. M. Richardson 04/08/2013.
10 out of ten. This is proof there is a god.
This clip is the memorable moment of Roger Waters' Wall Live Tour at the O2 Arena, where the guest stars were David Gilmour and Nick Mason, on May 12th 2011. Well worth eight minutes of your time.
The Wall is available for purchase here on Amazon
You can listen to The Wall in full here on Spotify
This is a link to Pink Floyd's Official Website