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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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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
2 stars As with its predecessor, Animals, this album is very much an exercise in what could have been. Unlike Animals, which had strong music, but a weakly constructed concept, The Wall has one of the strongest concepts in PINK FLOYD's catalogue--but some of the weakest music. Hearing the live rendition of The Wall (Is There Anybody Out There?) makes it even more painfully clear what's missing from the studio album. Even before I learned the band's history, I always felt a distinct chill in the atmosphere of the album...as though something had been forcibly drained from it.

That said, I should note that The Wall as a concept is very coherent...though unfortunately, it is the classic example of a concept so overbearing that it has completely overrun the music (and as such I rate it lower than Animals, because if not for the music, what would we have but a glorified poetry reading?). It was a first, and last, for PINK FLOYD (mostly Roger WATERS at that point with some input from David GILMOUR) to attempt to tell such an intricately narrated story, with a character and plot. Until The Wall (and also after WATERS' departure), their concept albums had been somewhat more cryptic, interpretive explorations of a central theme. The Wall leaves very little room for interpretation, relegating the listener to the part of passive spectator if one cannot identify with the experiences of the character, "Pink".

The strengths of The Wall are mainly lyrical and conceptual, although both vocalists are in fine form, and so is the guitar playing. Personally, I do not have a problem with the songs others might call filler--from my perspective they do serve to advance the narrative. Another main strength of The Wall is the use of sound effects and TV clips to help create the album's atmosphere, or even to make comments about the lyrics themselves, such as the following example where a clip from Gomer Pyle is placed to make a sarcastic remark: "...when I try to get through on the telephone to you (surprise, surprise, surprise!) there'll be nobody home." In light of the studio album's deficiencies, it's a good thing these were there.

In PINK FLOYD works before The Wall and after The Final Cut, there was often a spooky, unusual, sometimes experimental musical atmosphere that helped to set the tone of the album without a word. This music could be interpreted however the listener wanted. I believe a large part of this was the work of keyboardist Richard WRIGHT. Unfortunately, he was forced by Roger WATERS to give up his position in the band. The Wall's lack of that ethereal grace is what leaves the album cold. Except for a few beautiful parts like his synth solo on "Run Like Hell", it's clear WRIGHT had no more freedom left--and for this the music suffers.

Ultimately, I gave The Wall 2 stars, as I felt that the musical lack on the studio album was a very serious flaw. The live album, Is There Anybody Out There?, shows how much better that could have been--that version receiving 4 stars from me.

However, I'm going to suggest that those interested in similar themes to The Wall, but with far stronger music and a less overbearing concept (not to mention one with a much healthier coping process) check out AYREON's The Human Equation...in fact, you'll even hear on this album some of the vintage synthesizers the FLOYD could have taken greater advantage of had WRIGHT's talents not been restrained. While lyrically not quite as strong, the difference in experience is like the contrast between night and day, and it is The Human Equation that actually caused my opinion of The Wall to drop below the 3 stars I would have given it awhile back.

FloydWright | 2/5 |

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