Monday, August 13, 2007

album of the day

The Wall by Pink Floyd.

This review will be in the form of a few seemingly unconnected random observations. Here goes:
  • Pink Floyd are bracketed together with Yes and various others in the group of bands that punk had to happen to act as an antidote to (Steve Jones famously wore an I Hate Pink Floyd T-shirt). If you mark the advent of punk at 1976/1977 then it's certainly true that Yes's popularity had peaked well before this, but The Wall was released in 1979, so.....oh, I dunno. I might have had a point there, but I've forgotten what it was.
  • Your clich├ęd progressive rock album has a small number of long meandering tunes on it; certainly something you could say of The Wall's predecessors Wish You Were Here and Animals, but actually The Wall is a series of quite concise songs (26 of them); Comfortably Numb at 6:21 is comfortably (you see what I did there) the longest song on the album.
  • Roger Waters' son Harry provides the child's voice at the start of Goodbye Blue Sky.
  • Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 is a perfect pop single (famously, the first UK number 1 single of the 1980s), and it's David Gilmour's loose-wristed funky guitar part that makes it. My old schoolfriend Mungo (no, that really was his name) was at the school that provided the kiddy choir.
  • The film is a bit of a mixed bag; obviously the songs are great, and Bob Geldof isn't bad in a blank-faced sort of way as the central character, but the live-action sequences are just an interlude while you wait for more of Gerald Scarfe's jaw-dropping animation to come along. This is Goodbye Blue Sky, and this is Empty Spaces.
  • It starts to get a little bit rock opera towards the end, round about the time of The Trial, not that I'm knocking a song which prominently features the word "defecate".
  • Comfortably Numb is another one of these vital-signs litmus-test songs; if this doesn't do the hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck thing for you, then get yourself checked out. The Scissor Sisters' camp disco version should, if there's any justice in the world, result in the perpetrators having their large intestines pulled slowly out through their ears with a crochet hook throughout eternity.
  • More than any other Floyd album this one features intelligent combined use of Waters and Gilmour's vocals - for instance Gilmour doing the lullaby bits in The Thin Ice and Mother and Waters doing the oh no, everything's fucked bits in the same songs, and of course Waters doing the verses and Gilmour the chorus in Comfortably Numb.
  • Roger Waters dominated Pink Floyd's output increasingly throughout the 1970s, and this album is largely his brainchild. The single dominant event driving the creative juices here is Waters' father Eric's death in 1944 - Another Brick In The Wall Part 1, Vera and Bring The Boys Back Home reference it directly, as does most of Pink Floyd's next and last album The Final Cut in 1983 and the unreleased track When The Tigers Broke Free which was included on the compilation Echoes in 2001. Those are your actual "issues", right there.

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