on October 30, 2002
"The Wall," Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album about a rock star's mental breakdown, is a towering monster. It's an album with SO many audio, lyrical, musical & emotional nooks and crannies contained within, that one listen simply will not cut it. "The Wall" is not just an album to listen to, it's an album to be *explored*. It was inspired by then-bandleader Roger Waters' own mental collapse at the end of the Floyd's tour for the "Animals" album. Due to the grind of the mammoth stadium tour for "Animals," and sickened by seeing his own band, in his opinion, become part of the rock business "circus," Waters was mentally & emotionally exhausted beyond comprehension. At the final gig in Montreal, Waters finally snapped, spitting in the face of a young fan sitting up front. Coming home to England to recover, Waters finally decided to exorcise his demons by writing a conceptual piece about his disgust with his life as a rock star, and he began building "The Wall"....With the bulk of the double-album composed by Waters (with a few co-writing contributions from guitarist David Gilmour & producer Bob Ezrin), "The Wall" tells the story of a rock star named Pink and his downward spiral into madness, and all the things in his life that led him there: his father killed in the war when he was only a baby ("Another Brick In The Wall Part 1"), being smothered by his overbearing mother ("Mother"), subjected to abuse at school ("The Happiest Days Of Our Lives"/"Another Brick In The Wall Part 2"), and later, the pressures of his rock-star lifestyle ("One Of My Turns") and the breakdown of his marriage ("Don't Leave Me Now"). Quite simply, "The Wall" is a rock masterwork, and arguably Roger Waters' greatest achievement as a composer. However, to think of the album simply as a "Roger Waters production" would be wrong. Though Waters IS, indeed, the main architect of "The Wall," bravely wearing his heart on his sleeve with his powerful songwriting and tortured singing (not to mention playing a mean bass throughout), the album still would not be what it is without the excellent contributions of guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, who also shines on tracks like the smash hit, "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" (featuring his most famous guitar solo ever recorded with the band), "Goodbye Blue Sky," "Young Lust," "Hey You" and "Comfortably Numb" (featuring yet another classic Gilmour guitar solo). Keyboardist Richard Wright & drummer Nick Mason are, admittedly, dwarfed somewhat on "The Wall" by the inclusion of various session players (that's Jeff Porcaro playing drums on "Mother," to name one example). Still, Mason & Wright appear often enough, and they make their contributions count. The production on "The Wall" is also astounding---from the great stereophonic mix of the tunes themselves, to the treasure trove of sound effects & voices (such as fighter planes, helicopters, objects being smashed, singing schoolchildren, a telephone operator, a TV set playing "Gomer Pyle," and on and on), "The Wall" is truly a listening *experience*. Thankfully, Roger Waters, having left Pink Floyd in 1983, is living quite comfortably these days, no longer bothered by his rock star demons, and he continues to make great music on his own (he's also much more appreciative of his live audiences these days, thank goodness). Obviously for Waters, making "The Wall" was much-needed therapy. For Pink Floyd, "The Wall" became one of the group's biggest best-sellers, second only to "Dark Side Of The Moon." For the listener, "The Wall" is a spellbinding musical journey. It's music is at turns beautiful, haunting, and unquestionably powerful, and it's story is an absolutely gripping one. "The Wall" is a timeless, undisputed Pink Floyd classic.
on February 28, 2012
My main purpose in purchasing this CD was for the bonus material. However, the Experience Version contains three CDs, not four as stated by Amazon. Furthermore, this edition contains twenty-seven demos on one disc, not thirty-five demos over two discs. So, unless Amazon is selling a special edition (I did extensive research in deciding whether to purchase this or the $119 Immersion version, and did not see any mention of this anywhere), this version contains three CDs.
Discs 1 and 2 are the 2011 James Guthrie remasters of the album. Disc 3 contains 27 demos, all of which are "band" demos rather than Roger or David's "home demos." Since the demos were my main interest and reason for buying this, I will address that topic first. The Immersion version does contain two CDs worth of demos, containing a total of 64. Since I do not have that version, I will not address whether I am lacking anything essential by not having the 37 additional demos that appear on that version. Based on my research I am not. At least 22 of the 37 demos on Immersion are excerpts of Roger's home recordings totaling about 15 minutes. Two others are David's demos of "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell." Other than that, the remainder appear to be additional band demos at various stages of development, all of which appear in at least one form or another on Experience. The actual demos themselves are titled "Work in Progress" and are aimed at giving a glimpse into how the project came to its final form. My interest was more in hearing alternate versions of songs and the two songs that did not make the album. In my opinion, except for completists, the Experience version does a good job at this. The two titles that did not make the album are "Teacher Teacher (later appearing as "The Hero's Return" a B side from the "Final Cut.") and "Sexual Revolution," (later re-worked as "4:41 a.m.") from Roger's "Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking." The remaining 25 demos range from interesting to "I only need to hear this once." Probably the most interesting item here is "The Doctor" which is an early version of "Comfortably Numb." The sound quality of the demos varies from mediocre to passable. In my estimation, there are probably no more than ten that are substantial and that I will listen to again. After listening to all 27 (totaling 75:04) minutes, I cannot imagine listening to another disc of demos. Therefore, for my purpose, I think the Experience Edition was the appropriate choice. Please note, I am merely comparing the Immersion and Experience versions for demos. There are numerous other reasons one might wish to purchase the 7 disc Immersion set.
As far as the Discs 1 and 2, I will not comment on the music because it has all been said before. The album is a classic. The main issue here is the quality of the remastering. I compared my copy from the "Shine On" box to this on high end equipment and honestly could not hear any dramatic difference between the two. The 2011 remaster sounded slightly less bass heavy, slightly louder, and the vocals and drums appeared to be more upfront in the mix. However, I had to strain to hear this and the difference was very slight.
Like the other "Experience Editions" ("Dark Side" and "Wish You Were Here"), "The Wall" is packaged in a cardboard case. The booklet is similar to the LP in attempting to recreate the artwork and handwritten lyrics. However, no information is provided regarding history, guest musicians, etc.
So how do I rate this? I give it four stars. Five stars for Discs 1 and 2 and three stars for Disc 3. I think it is the weakest of the three expanded albums from the series because it has the least essential bonus material. There is also less of difference in sound quality, which is excellent, over the earlier remasters. This is likely due to the fact it is a newer release and always had excellent fidelity.
If you are interested in getting a new copy of "The Wall" with an extra disc of material you probably won't listen to more than a few times, this is a great purchase. If you have either of the previous two "Wall" remasters, there is no substantial difference in sound here. If you merely want a new copy without the extra disc, the standard 2011 remaster is the best option. If you have the money and can spring for the Immersion Version, I would say go for it. It is the most complete version of this classic album available at this time. However, I do want to stress again that the Experience Version contains 3 CDs with 27 demos on Disc 3. Anyone interested in more than this must purchase the Immersion Version.
When the Immersion sets were announced, I was quite excited by the fact that included in the sets were to be the original quad mixes, along with a Blu Ray of the stereo, quad and 5.1 mixes for these albums. Unfortunately this set does NOT come with a Blu Ray, which IS disappointing as it means we are not treated to phenomenal lossless audio at higher quality as we had with previous Immersion sets. For me, the price just isn't worth what you get as what I wanted wasn't included.
HOWEVER, that being said, what you get is some amazing stuff. You just don't get lossless 96/24 Blu Rays.
First up is The Wall, digitally remastered by James Guthrie, just like we had with the previous sets. It's a two disc set, so this encompasses discs 1 and 2. You won't hear anything you haven't heard before and the audio doesn't have its dynamics compressed. I think, side by side comparison to previous sets, you would probably really struggle to hear a difference between this release and past releases.
Discs 3 and 4 contain The Wall demo tracks, which are actually nice to hear given alternate takes of songs.
Discs 5 and 6 are what the set really needed. They are remastered CDs of the Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live. This is, as far as I can tell, the best these tracks have ever sounded.
Disc 7 is a DVD. I'm kind of on the fence with this one. You get a promo video for Another Brick in the Wall prt 2, a pretty good Behind the Wall documentary and an odd short film from the Earls Court Concert. Why excerpts? Why not a complete performance? I don't know. Oh, there's also a Geral Scarfe interview included, which was a nice watch but not something I'll sit through again.
Then you have all the in box extras, which are all pretty much worthless, other than the fact that you actually have to pay for them to get the CDs and DVD, which is all I really wanted. Do I REALLY need a poorly made scarf? No, and anyone that uses it as a scarf would probably be disappointed. The photo book is nice, but for quite a bit less money they could have included all the discs in a much smaller package with just the photo book and Floyd fans would have been happy to buy. At the current MSRP though, most fans would do well to struggle over whether they really want this set. And by dropping the Blu Ray, it really lost a ton of value for me.
For those of you wondering why there is no quad mix or a 5.1 mix included, the answer is simple. EMI wanted this out as quickly as possible. The quad tapes exist, but apparently are in HORRIBLE condition and require a lot of cleanup. A lot of clean up that wouldn't have been completed by the time EMI wanted to push this set out upon the music buying masses. Instead of waiting and creating a true Immersion set, they gave into greed. They are, supposedly, cleaning these up or remixing the album for 5.1 and will release that later... great! Just what I want, to purchase another version of The Wall! And yes, I'll buy it. I love the quad mixes from the other Immersion sets and if there is a quad or 5.1 mix made, I'll stand in line like a sheep waiting to get it.
So the question is, if you're a Floyd fan and already have The Wall in it's CD iterations, do you need this Immersion box set? If you're a passing Floyd fan and don't care about the demo tracks, I would say you can probably pass on this one. There isn't really anything Earth shattering for me, however what is presented is of the highest quality.
on August 23, 2001
Becoming one of the world's biggest bands had nearly destroyed Pink Floyd. Since the Floyd, a band whom had merrily produced experimental rock all over the musical map, since their writer of fairy tale, psychedelic pop songs, Syd Barrett had become undependable, had become megastars with the release of 1973's Dark Side of the Moon, the intrusive attention they received, the ever growing business aspect of their careers, spite from cult musicians and, depending on who you ask, either Rogers Waters' ego or the band becoming completely dependent on Waters for creative direction saw the friendship between band members dissolve and the loss of fun and enjoyment from making music, problems which fueled two excellent but very bitter, post-Dark Side albums, 1975's Wish You Were Here and 1977's Animals. So one would perhaps think the band's aching was settling in 1978, when they took some time away from each other, allowing David Gilmour to release his self-entitled solo debut and Richard Wright to release his first solo album, Wet Dream, both pretty somber records, while Roger Waters took refuge in a serene log cabin, recording demos for the next Pink Floyd album or a possible solo album.
But such was not the case. As bitter, sorrowful and angry as their past few releases had been, nothing could have prepared fans for the Wall, the album Waters was writing locked inside that cabin. In the guise of a song cycle about a dejected, celebrity rock star who was adored by many but all alone when he really needed someone, 1979's The Wall was a rage filled, autobiographical tour de force that allowed Waters to scream like an animal at his country, his wife, his fans, his self and even his old school teachers. As the record reaches its second disc, (which sees Gilmour, not fading behind Waters without a struggle, delivering a divine guitar solo through the drug filled haze of Comfortably Numb) the story shifts into the ultimate fascist fantasy/parody as the rock star goes off the edge and calls out for more blood and destruction from his fans. Although, at some points the songs get self-indulgent and the story lost, The Wall still stands as the ultimate fists-in-the-air, dark, hard rock fantasy. Even within the ranks of Pink Floyd's acolytes, the album is a cult classic for the more embittered listener.
The album is even a sort of essay on the rock phenomenon. As concerts like Alamont were becoming tragedies, as bands like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper were accused of enflaming young minds with evil, as stars like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and even Floyd's own Syd Barrett seemed bent on self-destruction, the Wall seems to be rock and roll's definitive inward investigation.
Of coarse, the Wall, a double album, colossal stage show featuring an actual 50 foot wall and a motion picture, would lead to more complex money matters, more spite from poorer musicians, more egos clashing (Waters fired keyboard player Rick Wright halfway through recording) and would heighten the attention Floyd received to fascination. Things just got more frustrating for the Floyd causing, depending on who ask, Waters to quit the band or Gilmour and drummer, Nick Mason to dupe Waters into thinking Pink Floyd was over and then stealing the band's name from him in the mid-80s. Still, if you were willing to allow a record to be so completely in your face, 1979's the Wall is an intense and absorbing listen.
on June 5, 2000
If anyone could sum up this album in one word, that would be it. 'The Wall' is not only the ultimate Pink Floyd album(in my opinion, at least), it is the most creative and awe-inspring recording probably ever. From the explosive opening guitar riff of "In The Flesh?" to the final harmonies of "Outside The Wall", 'The Wall' takes the most extensive journey of the mind, heart and soul of any rock album ever made. With the excellent production of Bob Ezrin (who also produced KISS' classic 'Destroyer'), to the legendary David Gilmour and of course, the brainchild of the whole thing, Roger Waters, The Floyd told the story of a man who was at war his whole life with one person - himself. From the death of his father in WWII, his overprotective mother, his superstardom as a rock musician and the excess which accompanied it, his unfaithful wife, his inability to cope with the rest of the world, and finally, his freefall into insanity, no other recording in history has come as close to telling an actual story so completely and masterfully, in just the confines of music. While experiencing 'The Wall', one can't help but feel the angst of "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2", the confusion of "Empty Spaces", the uncontrollable rage of "One Of My Turns", the hopelessness of "Goodbye Cruel World", and the guilt of "The Trial". This album never fails to get my emotions going, and one of the unique qualities 'The Wall' has, it that one discovers something new in it with each listen. The outstanding production covered all the bases; there are hidden messages behind every background noise, spoken phrase, etc., to help bring the entire plot together. This is without a doubt my favorite album out of my entire catalog, and something I can never let sit long enough to collect any dust. So, in closing, sit back with an open ear, an open mind, take the time to listen to all of the lyrics, and enjoy arguably the best album of all time.
Isn't this where......
Actually if I were going to go beyond the idea of a concept album with "The Wall" I would be more inclined to call it an oratorio, similar to Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" or "Passion Play," rather than a rock opera like "Jesus Christ Superstar" or the Who's "Tommy." That is because the over riding unity of the songs in "The Wall" is thematic rather than narrative in nature. The bleak double album is Roger Waters' meditation on the walls human beings build up to ensure their survival in the post-modern world. It is also something of a departure from the group's previous albums, most notably "The Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here," it that the group's signature cosmic rock sound is giving way to some more traditional pop music sensibilities. The compelling electronics and other special effects that had become key components of Pink Floyd's music, and which put "Dark Side of the Moon" on the chart for literally years, now takes a back seat to the themes and lyrics (although there are still some choice moments, such as when Gomer Pyle shows up on "Nobody Home").
The "story," such as it is, concerns a rock star named Pink (no subtlety here, boys and girls), who is disgusted with the lesser human being he has become as a result of his celebrity. The key song in the album is "Comfortably Numb" (co-written by lead guitarist Dave Gilmour), which is one of the classic rock songs about alienation, although obviously the title begs to have it labeled a song about intoxication by the drug on your choice. But the context for lyrics such as "You are only coming through in waves/Your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying" is clearly about the despair of being disconnected from humanity. It is also a lament about the lose of childhood, which remains in Waters' vision the time when we are at our best as human beings:
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown, the dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb
The music for "Comfortably Numb" is both operatic and eerie, a paradox that is nonetheless accurate. The relentlessly depressing picture of a rock star's life would have you worrying about the mental health of Roger Waters if it were not for the suspicion he is writing as much about the life in general and former Pink Floyd lead guitarist and main songwriter Syd Barrett as it is an attempt at catharsis by Waters after spitting on a fan during a concert for daring to applaud during an acoustic number. I always was struck by the start of "Mother," with one of the very best examples of a caesura with the extremely effective pause between the first line, "Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?" and the second, "Mother, do you think they'll like this song?" There is a world of meaning in the vocal silence there that I have never forgotten.
There are two pitfalls to "The Wall." The first is that Pink Floyd released a rare single with "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2," which mean that school children rebelling against the system now had something to sing throughout the year while waiting for the end of the year to do Alice Cooper's "Schools Out." Consequently, in the popular consciousness "The Wall" was boiled down to the following potent lyrics:
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
Yet taken in its totality it can hardly be said that the primary purpose of this double-album was an attack on the educational system in England. In song after song the "character" is blaming others for his troubles, so it is not surprising that teachers end up on that list. But the success of the single made it seem this was what the whole thing was all about. For that matter, there are more songs concerned with the threat of nuclear destruction ("Mother," "Goodbye Blue Skies") than education. By the time you through Waters' paranoia over Great Britain becoming fascist ("Run Like Hell") the whole indictment of education seems like just another, well, you know what (which would be the point, right?).
The second concern is that the disparity between the highs and lows on this album are rather substantial. It is rather like sitting through an opera and some of recitatives (e.g., "Goodbye Cruel World") to get to the arias (e.g., "Hey You"). The best tracks on this album are as pretty good, but you still have to sit through some less than stellar sections (e.g., "One of My Turns"). The loose narrative is not enough to help us connect the dots and I suspect it is only by really getting totally into the album and trying to achieve consubstantiality with the creative vision of Roger Waters that you can really make sense of it all. This is why the production values of "The Wall" as performed by Pink Floyd in concert tended to replace the psychological dimensions of listening to it in the dark in your room.
The key thing here is that there are moments in "The Wall" that match its ambition. The sum is greater than the total of the parts, but there is certainly nothing wrong with that being the case.
on December 7, 2000
There is little that I can add to the many voices who have praised this great work. But I feel compelled to do so. Largely the work of composer/lyrical genius Roger Waters, the sheer scope of 'The Wall' is breathtaking in its ability to move and shock you, an effect that has not diminished as it now enters its 27th year. Mixing semi-biographical material with knowing fiction, Waters weaves a tale that is equal parts grim satire, near-operatic melodrama and gut-wrenching anger. Waters attacks the capitalist cynicism of the music business, the oftimes cookie-cutter putting-down of schoolkids, and most significantly, the complexity and pitfalls of familial and married life. And of course, the bitter futility of war, which is as relevant now as it was in 1944 or 1979. 'The Wall' has been and always will be a soundtrack for the angry and the disaffected. But don't get me wrong, there are moments of musical beauty that will stay with you long after the anger has faded. Water's voice flexes its considerable emotional range across a variety of moods. Guitarist David Gilmour's melodic lead playing sizzles with passion and power. His intensity and soaring tone makes 'The Wall' arguably his finest recorded performance. And his vocal contributions to the album also cannot be overlooked. Keyboardist Rick Wright and drummer Nick Mason make important musical contributions and Wiz Producer Bob Ezrin ties it all together into a soundscape that is timeless. 'The Wall' will take you on a journey through light and darkness, and you will emerge outside 'The Wall', like Roger Waters, better for the experience. One of Rock's true masterpieces and certainly not the least of them.
on November 10, 2001
It had been at least ten years since I listened to _The Wall_. Vinyl copy lost to divorce, tape copy eaten by car player--you know. One recent day I felt the urge to hear it. Ordered it on CD, waited impatiently for its arrival . . . but waited for the right time to pop it into the player.
"Look, Mummy; there's an aeroplane up in the sky.
"D-d-d-did you see the frightened ones . . . D-d-d-did you hear the falling bombs . . . D-d-d-did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath the clear blue sky?"
Now I know why I wanted to hear it again, after 9/11, that crushing loss of innocence. I sat riveted, unable to do anything but listen to a life shaped by horrific events, wondering how many walls are building out there.
The poetry is heart-wrenching. The musicianship is as solid as anything in rock history. This album is as vital, as necessary, now as it was when I first heard it some 20 years ago.
"The basis of great literature is that it speaks to the universal human condition," said my college Lit professor.
Listen to this. It speaks.
on July 19, 2004
I'm amazed that this album has actually received bad reviews.
Has our culture become so banal that Spears/Jackson pop music is the base line? This is art folks. If you have any self awareness, this album will affect you. Damn it, it should make you, at the very least, teary eyed.
I admit that I blur the album and the film into one experience. The whole project is amazing - that includes the live DVD performance in Berlin.
War, insanity, drug use, fame, authority figures who don't give a damn, (that includes your precious, little mommy), self-absorption, and the desperate need for longing - come on folks, you got to be kidding when you trash this album.
How can one not feel when Pink calls home and his wife's lover answers the damn phone? Then again, maybe you've never been completely betrayed during a moment of adulterated innocence and weakness.
Sure, I have every Pink Floyd album and then some. The Wall isn't the typical psychadelic, experimental mastery that one might typically equate with this band. But, the apparent simplicity is the genius.
This is Pink Floyd. This is a masterpiece.
Centuries from now adolescents, and adults who can empathize with that angst of just being, will embrace this album.
on November 13, 2011
This review will contain strictly my thoughts on the Guthrie remaster and NOT on the the album's lyrical or conceptual qualities. Lets start off with my equipment; I'm testing this cd on my full british hifi system ( Musical Fidelity A1 CD Pro, Musical Fideltiy A1 Integrated Amp, Bower and Wilkins 805 speaker). Forget the Doug Sax version along with the previous Guthrie 1994 remastered disc set; if you want audiophile sonic quality this is the version to buy. This copy of the remaster retains all the character and essence of the original LP with added dynamic punch and texture lost in the previous versions. It is evident that much time was spent refining this album as its overall product is significantly different from past remasters. Especially on "Hey You" and "One of my turns" the imaging and sound stage really shine and show the real remastering magic from Guthrie. I don't care much for the miniaturized LP paper packaging sleeve; honestly I would have preferred an actual cd case but that is a very minor problem. I would recommend this album to anyone with at least an entry level hifi system or hifi level headphones. This is a must have for die hard pink floyd fans personally I enjoy more of the remastered disc found on the discovery sets instead of the live performance discs or other miscellaneous recordings which in my opinion are neither here nor there; they just don't hit that spot for me and are neither of any high sonic qualities. And for those who already have all the previous "The Wall" albums the difference with this 2011 remaster are definitely worth the cash. Great sounding hifi quality music will always deserve my hard earned money.