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Pink Floyd - The Wall CD (album) cover

THE WALL

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.05 | 2031 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
5 stars I think the most amazing thing about this album was that it was released by a band that was frankly in decline in 1979. This was due to a number of reasons of course: they were famously broke due to a series of bad business deals; the seventies were coming to a close and most of the sixties psych bands were considered anachronisms from long ago; and they had released only two albums in the more than six years since ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ exploded on the scene. Plus it’s very unusual for a band to have their biggest smash hit a dozen years and a dozen albums into their career. It’s much more common for that pinnacle release to happen (if it ever does) early in a band’s career. Anyway, disco was king in 1979 and Billy Joel was at the top of the charts. This was a very unlikely hit, although the band has always been big enough to have anything they put out at least sell a few million copies.

Actually I remember the movie coming out more than the album. The film gave a greater context to the lyrics and overall theme of the music, as up to then it seemed like the album was mostly getting played at the uber-cheesy “laser” light shows that stoners went to at the town cosmosphere on Friday nights.

Even though most of us in our forties have heard this thing 10,000 times and almost never play it anymore, it is still an unquestionable classic masterpiece of rock music.

For me the album ranks as one of the better (but unexceptional) Pink Floyd albums right up until “Goodbye Blue Sky” creeps in. Everything changes after that. “Empty Spaces” sets the tone for the next forty minutes or so, and “Young Lust” thrusts the band (pun partially intended) into the eighties. That song is the definitive separation between ‘Animals’ and ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ as far as I’m concerned. Almost everything the band did before then was at least nominally connected to the band’s psychedelic roots. After “Young Lust” they became a larger-than-life rock band.

Anyway, ‘Lust’ was a turning point, but “Hey You” will probably always be one of a handful of tunes that instantly characterizes this band. Waters, Gilmour, and Mason are all dead-on for this one. Wright is typically understated, but that’s par for the course too. I think Gilmour really perfected a whining sustain here that carried him in his solo work and next couple of Floyd albums to come.

And I’ll take back part of what I said about “Young Lust”. I do think it was a split with their former selves for the band, but there is one brief relapse on “Comfortably numb”, which is the quintessential stoned-Floyd bubble-gum psych number. Brilliant – don’t get me wrong, but really this one sounds like it was engineered by Alan Parsons it’s so silky smooth.

I’ve always thought the climax and ending for this album were a bit muddled and hurried. The band (well, Roger Waters) spends well over an hour telling Pink’s story in a fair amount of emotional detail and with exquisite visual clarity, only to bring things to a crashing and hanging close in just five short minutes. It’s all too abrupt really. Not artistically, but aesthetically. Waters intended this to be a three-disc album, and I have to wonder if they had spent the extra time while the band was still clicking so well in the studio to finish out the ‘Final Cut’ tracks and other assorted studio cut-outs, this could have easily been stretched to three discs with a drawn out ending / epilogue. Of course, it probably wouldn’t have sold 30,000,000 copies if that had happened, which is of course why it didn’t happen.

No matter, this is an essential classic, no question in my mind. I played it today for the first time in over five years, and it was like I just heard it all the way through yesterday. I think I’ll be able to play this when I’m sixty and the words and notes will still comes rushing back to my mind completely intact. How many albums can you say that about?

peace

ClemofNazareth | 5/5 |

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