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.