The Wall Discography
The Wall is a rock opera presented as a double album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, released in late 1979.
Following in the footsteps of their previous albums, The Wall is a concept album – specifically, it deals largely with the theme of isolation from one’s peers. This is largely inspired by their 1977 tour promoting the album Animals, with regards to an incident where Roger Waters’ frustration with someone climbing the netting that separated the band from the audience reached a point where Waters spat in the fan’s face. This led him to lament that such a wall exists, which in turn inspired him to base their next album on the theme of isolation from others. With this significantly darker theme, The Wall featured a notably harsher and more theatrical sound than their previous releases.
The Wall is a rock opera that centers on the character “Pink”. Largely based on Waters’ personal life, Pink struggles in life from an early age, having lost his father in war (“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)”), abused by teachers (“The Happiest Days of Our Lives”), nurtured by an overprotective mother (“Mother”), and deserted by his wife later on (“Don’t Leave Me Now”) – all of which factored into Pink’s mental isolation from society, figuratively referred to as “The Wall”.
In 1977, Pink Floyd were promoting Animals with their In The Flesh tour. The final night of the tour, in Montreal, Canada, Waters spat in the face of a fan who was trying to climb over the netting between the audience and the stage, and get up with the band. The incident later helped inspire Waters to develop the idea of The Wall. The album was recorded at four studios over eight months, owing to English tax laws and to benefit from the cheaper recording costs in the South of France. Tensions between Waters and the band were increasing significantly, largely to do with his dominance over the rest of the band. During the recording, Waters dismissed Richard Wright, and told him to leave immediately after The Wall was finished, arguing that Wright was not contributing much, in part owing to a cocaine addiction. Waters claimed that David Gilmour and Nick Mason had supported his decision to fire Wright, but in 2000, Gilmour stated that he and Mason were against Wright’s dismissal. In his book Inside Out, Nick Mason claims that Wright was fired because Columbia Records had offered Waters a substantial bonus to finish the album in time for a 1979 release. Since Wright refused to return early from his summer holiday, Waters wanted to dismiss Wright. However, he returned for their live performances as a paid musician.
For “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”, Pink Floyd needed to record a school choir, so they approached music teacher Alun Renshaw of Islington Green School, around the corner from their Britannia Row Studios. The chorus was overdubbed twelve times to give the impression that the choir was larger. The choir were not allowed to hear the rest of the song after singing the chorus. Though the school received a lump sum payment of Ā£1000, there was no contractual arrangement for royalties. Under 1996 UK copyright law, they became eligible, and after choir members were tracked down by royalties agent Peter Rowan of RBL Music, through the website Friends Reunited, they sued. Music industry professionals estimated that each student would be owed around Ā£500.
Originally released on Columbia Records in the U.S. and Harvest Records in the UK, The Wall was then re-released as a digitally remastered CD in 1994 in the UK on EMI. In 1997, Columbia Records issued an updated remaster (which sounded superior to the EMI remasters from 1994) in the United States, Canada, Australia, South America and Japan. For The Wall’s 20th Anniversary in April 2000, Capitol Records in the U.S. and EMI in Canada, Australia, South America and Japan re-released the 1997 remaster with the artwork from the EMI Europe remaster. The Wall was the first Pink Floyd album since 1967’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn whose cover was not done by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis. Instead, Gerald Scarfe designed the cover and gatefold sleeve. David Gilmour recalls Storm Thorgerson falling out with Roger Waters over issues such as the credit for the Animals sleeve design.
Concept and storyline
The album’s overriding themes are the causes and implications of self-imposed isolation, symbolized by the metaphorical wall of the title. The album’s songs create a very loose storyline sketching events in the life of the protagonist, Pink. Pink loses his father as a child (Waters’s own father was killed in Anzio during World War II), is smothered by his overprotective mother, and is oppressed at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers, each of these traumas becoming “another brick in the wall”. As an adult Pink becomes a rock star, but his relationships are marred by infidelity and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, Pink finishes building the wall and completes his isolation from human contact.
Pink’s mindset deteriorates behind his freshly completed wall, with his personal crisis culminating during an onstage performance. Hallucinating, Pink believes that he is a fascist dictator, and his concerts are like Neo-Nazi rallies where he sets his men on fans he considers unworthy, only to have his conscience rebel at this and put himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to “tear down the wall” in order to open himself to the outside world. At this point the album’s end runs into its beginning with the closing words “Isn’t this where…”; the first song on the album, “In the Flesh?”, begins with the words “…we came in?” ā€“ with a continuation of the melody of the last song, “Outside the Wall” ā€“ hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters’s theme.
The LP’s sleeve art and custom picture labels by Gerald Scarfe tied in with the album’s concept. Side one had a quarter of the wall erected and a sketch of the teacher. Side two saw half of the wall erected and a sketch of the wife. Side three had three-quarters of the wall erected and a sketch of the character of Pink, while side four had the wall completely erected and a sketch of the prosecutor.
Bob Ezrin played a major part in taking Waters’s demo material and clarifying the storyline by writing a script, which even called for additional songs to complete the plot.
Concert and filmed versions
Rehearsals for The Wall concerts began shortly after the album’s release in December 1979 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles and rehearsals would run until January 1980 when it moved to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for the first performance.
Pink Floyd performed the concert version of The Wall only in a handful of cities. This was due to the grandiosity of the performance, which involved constructing a giant wall across the stage between band and audience, not to mention staple Pink Floyd props such as giant screens, flying pigs and pyrotechnics. There were 29 live performances of The Wall in total between 1980 and 1981. It was performed first in Los Angeles from February 7 to 11, 1980 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, then in New York from February 24 to 28, 1980 at Nassau Coliseum. It was followed by performances at Earls Court in London from August 4 to 9, 1980, then again in Dortmund, Germany at Westfalenhalle from February 13 to 20, 1981. Finally, the band did one more week at Earls Court in London from June 13 to 17, 1981. Roger Waters would later perform it in 1990 at a concert in Berlin.
During opening night in Los Angeles, the show had to be stopped midway through the first set because of a fire in the curtains above the stage, probably started by the pyrotechnics. The house lights came up, the fire was put out and the show continued.
The performances began with a Master of Ceremonies, who rotated from show to show, reading a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. A “surrogate band”, which wore masks of their counterparts in Pink Floyd, would perform “In the Flesh?”. The sound of a plane crash would be made, and the surrogate band would stop playing. The real Pink Floyd would come into full view, and a giant wall is constructed by roadies out of roughly 100 cardboard bricks throughout the first half of the performance augmented by appearances by an inflatable teacher, wife, and mother. In the second half, the band would still be playing but were completely obscured from view behind the wall. A few bricks revealed David Gilmour playing classical guitar on “Is There Anybody Out There?”. Roger Waters sang from an open hotel room on “Nobody Home” and “Vera”. During “Comfortably Numb”, Roger Waters sang his parts dressed as the doctor wearing a white coat in front of the wall while guitarist David Gilmour was hoisted hydraulically on to the top of the wall singing his parts and playing his famous guitar solos in full view of the crowd. The surrogate band returned, wearing life masks of the four band members while the four Pink Floyd members all wore Hammer guard T-shirts, jeans and shoes/sneakers (Gilmour, Mason and Wright) except for Roger Waters who wore a long leather trench coat with hammer logos and storm-trooper boots. The wall was dramatically torn down during “The Trial”, and Pink Floyd themselves joined the surrogate band in front of the wreckage of the wall to perform the finale, “Outside the Wall”.
During the performance, giant puppets of the Teacher, Wife, and Mother, designed by Gerald Scarfe, were used, and animations by Scarfe were projected onto a circular area and onto the wall itself. Added to this, a hotel room (where much of the story is set) emerges from the wall midway through the second half for the song “Nobody Home”.
The large stage shows required huge equipment (including full-sized cranes), and cost an extraordinary amount of money to produce. As such, the band lost money from them, with the exception of Rick Wright, who was retained on a fixed salary for the concerts after being fired during the mixing sessions of the album in Los Angeles. The intent of the band for these concerts was to give the audience a truly theatrical experience instead of a typical rock concert where the band played the songs. As such, during many songs, Waters assumed the role of the anti-hero, Pink, singing and acting but not playing his bass.
The 1980 Earls Court live show was filmed, but after Roger Waters left the band he refused to give out the footage. Despite this the footage was leaked and a VHS of it did eventually appear. The video though was unprofessionally edited with very low sound and picture quality.
A film version of The Wall was released in 1982 entitled Pink Floyd The Wall, directed by Alan Parker and starring Bob Geldof. The screenplay was written by Roger Waters. The film features music from the original album, much of which was re-recorded by the band with additional orchestration, some with minor lyrical and musical changes.
Originally the film was intended to be intercut with concert footage and a few of the live shows were actually filmed, but subsequently not used in the film at all. Footage from these concerts has appeared on different websites from time to time and on YouTube. However, an official release of this footage by Pink Floyd has not been authorized other than what was used in the documentary Behind the Wall.
Immensely successful upon release, The Wall quickly jumped to #1 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S in its fourth week (it debuted at #53) and #3 in the U.K.. To date the album has sold over 30 million records, with 23 million records sold in the U.S alone (where it is Pink Floyd’s top-selling album), solidifying it as the top-selling double album in history. It was among the most popular albums of the early 1980s, to the extent that film director Alan Parker created a film based on it. The album had a string of hit singles, with “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” being their only song to hit #1 on the Billboard.
In addition to its commercial success, critical reception of The Wall has been, and remains, mostly positive. Carlo Twist of Blender gave it 5 stars out of a possible 5, stating that, “For all its pomp and lofty ambition, thereā€™s a streak of almost punk-rock venom within, not to mention some of the bandā€™s best humping, thumping heavy rock.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic Guide was slightly more critical, but nevertheless said that, “its seamless surface, blending melodic fragments and sound effects, makes the musical shortcomings and questionable lyrics easy to ignore.” Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone remarked, “The Wall, is the most startling rhetorical achievement in the group’s singular, thirteen-year career.” That same magazine later ranked The Wall at #87 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Wall would also be included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
After Waters left Pink Floyd in 1985, a legal battle ensued over the rights to the name “Pink Floyd” and its material. In the end, Waters retained the right to use The Wall and its material, as his name has been most closely associated with the album. This meant the sole ownership of all The Wall tracks except for the three Gilmour co-wrote the music for (“Young Lust”, “Comfortably Numb” and “Run Like Hell”) and images relating to The Wall on the later 1987ā€“1990 and 1994 tours by the three-man Pink Floyd required payments to Waters.
Waters staged a concert performance of The Wall at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin on July 21, 1990 both to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and as a fundraising effort for the World War Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief. This performance featured guest artists including Bryan Adams, Cyndi Lauper and Van Morrison. This performance also differed from previous shows in that some songs from the original album and Pink Floyd concert version were omitted, others were featured in slightly modified versions, and one Waters solo song was added.
All songs are by Roger Waters except as noted.
“In the Flesh?” ā€“ 3:19
“The Thin Ice” ā€“ 2:27
“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)” ā€“ 3:21
“The Happiest Days of Our Lives” ā€“ 1:46
“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” ā€“ 4:00
“Mother” ā€“ 5:36
“Goodbye Blue Sky” ā€“ 2:45
“Empty Spaces” ā€“ 2:10
“Young Lust” (Waters/David Gilmour) ā€“ 3:25
“One of My Turns” ā€“ 3:35
“Don’t Leave Me Now” ā€“ 4:16
“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)” ā€“ 1:14
“Goodbye Cruel World” ā€“ 1:13
“Hey You” ā€“ 4:40
“Is There Anybody Out There?” ā€“ 2:44
“Nobody Home” ā€“ 3:26
“Vera” ā€“ 1:35
“Bring the Boys Back Home” ā€“ 1:21
“Comfortably Numb” (Gilmour/Waters) ā€“ 6:24
“The Show Must Go On” ā€“ 1:36
“In the Flesh” ā€“ 4:13
“Run Like Hell” (Gilmour/Waters) ā€“ 4:19
“Waiting for the Worms” ā€“ 4:04
“Stop” ā€“ 0:30
“The Trial” (Waters/Bob Ezrin) ā€“ 5:13
“Outside the Wall” ā€“ 1:41
Additional non-album tracks
“We’ll Meet Again” – The original Vera Lynn song was the first track on Roger’s home demo and the first production demo. As the track went on, it would gradually blend with guitar sounds, bombers, and a helicopter. This intro was later replaced by “In The Flesh?”.
“When the Tigers Broke Free” (Used in the movie version of The Wall. Composed prior to the recording of the album, released on a vinyl single, Echoes (Disc 2, Track 05) and on the 2004 re-release of The Final Cut)
“What Shall We Do Now?” (Used in the movie version of The Wall. The song was left off the original album for lack of space; the reprise “Empty Spaces” which was originally meant to go between “Don’t Leave Me Now” and “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)” was moved from its original spot on the album and put in its place for the sake of space. It is used during the wall-building sequence during the live show). A majority of writers and aficionados of the album, film, and live show always seem to think that “Empty Spaces” is actually the introduction to “What Shall We Do Now?” but it is not. The Wall engineer James Guthrie has always stated that “Empty Spaces” is a reprise of “What Shall We Do Now?” and not the introduction. However, a rough cut of “Empty Spaces” is used as the introduction to a rough cut to “What Shall We Do Now?” on The Wall 1978 demo tape. See Brain Damage, the definitive Pink Floyd podcast, show #51 “The Wall – Demos”.
“Sexual Revolution” – Originally on Roger’s home demo for The Wall, but later reworked for his solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.
“Death Disco” – On Roger’s home demo, this song introduced the fascist ideas that were later used for “In The Flesh”. The guitar riff from this song was also later developed into “Young Lust”.
“Is There Anybody Out There (Part 2)” features previously unheard lyrics, part of which were later worked into “Hey You”.
“Is There Anybody Out There (Part 3)” and “Empty Spaces (Part 2)” were cut for time.
“The Thin Ice (Part 2)” – On Roger’s home demo and the first production demo, The Wall ended with a reprise of the instrumental section at the end of “The Thin Ice”.
The live version of The Wall, Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81, included the following tracks not on the original album:
“What Shall We Do Now?” after “Empty Spaces”
“The Last Few Bricks” after “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)”; usually a medley performed while the construction crew was finishing off the massive wall on stage
The album was originally written to be a triple-LP album, although Waters cut it down and left material out for the band’s next release, The Final Cut.
“Your Possible Pasts” later rewritten for use on The Final Cut, however, the line “Do you remember me/How we used to be/Do you think/We should be/Closer?” was used in the film.
“One of the Few” – working title, “Teach” – was later re-written for use on The Final Cut.
“The Hero’s Return” – Originally called “Teacher, Teacher” on Roger’s original home demo for The Wall. The lyrics were revised for its use on The Final Cut.
“The Final Cut” also rewritten for use on The Final Cut. A line from this song goes: “Dial the combination/Open the priest-hole/And if I’m in, I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall”. A gunshot is played over “behind the wall” in the final version of the song, to sever its connection to the album The Wall. The complete lyrics are still written in the inside sleeve of the album. These lyrics can be heard sung (minus the shotgun) on the bootleg CD with the demos of The Final Cut.
“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”/”One of My Turns” – Harvest HAR 5194; released November 16, 1979 (UK, U.S., France and Italy [with One of my Turns as a B-Side])
“Run Like Hell”/”Don’t Leave Me Now” – Columbia 1-11265; released April, 1980 (Holland, Sweden and US)
“Comfortably Numb”/”Hey You” – Columbia 1-11311; released June, 1980 (US and Japan)
Grammy Award – 1980 – The Wall – Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Roger Waters ā€” vocals, bass guitar, co-producer, synthesiser, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, sleeve design
David Gilmour ā€” guitars, vocals, co-producer, bass guitar, sequencer, synthesiser, clavinet, percussion
Richard Wright ā€” piano, organ, synthesiser, clavinet, bass pedals
Nick Mason ā€” drums, percussion
Lee Ritenour ā€” Rhythm Guitar on “One of My Turns” and Acoustic Guitar on “Comfortably Numb”
Jeff Porcaro ā€” Marching Snare drum on “Bring the Boys Back Home”
Blue Ocean ā€” Marching Snare drum on “Bring the Boys Back Home”
Freddie Mandel ā€” Hammond Organ on “In The Flesh?” and “In the Flesh”
Bobbye Hall ā€” Percussion
Ron di Blasi ā€” Classical guitar on “Is There Anybody Out There?”
Larry Williams ā€” Clarinet on “Outside the Wall”
Trevor Veitch ā€” Mandolin
Frank Marrocco ā€” Concertina
Bruce Johnston ā€” Backing Vocals
Toni Tennille ā€” Backing Vocals
Brian Wilson ā€” Vocal Arrangements.
Joe Chemay ā€” Backing Vocals
Jon Joyce ā€” Backing Vocals
Stan Farber ā€” Backing Vocals
Jim Haas ā€” Backing Vocals
Fourth Form Music Class, Islington Green School, London ā€” Backing Vocals
Bob Ezrin ā€” co-producer; Orchestra Arrangement; Keyboards
Michael Kamen ā€” Orchestra Arrangement
James Guthrie ā€” Co-Producer; Engineer; Percussion; Synthesiser on “Empty Spaces” (in collaboration with David Gilmour), Sequencer; Drums on “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” (in collaboration with Nick Mason), remastering producer
Nick Griffiths ā€” Engineer
Patrice Queff ā€” Engineer
Justin Dimma ā€” Engineer
Darren McIntomney ā€” Engineer
Rick Hart ā€” Engineer
Robert Hrycyna ā€” Engineer
Gerald Scarfe ā€” Sleeve Design
Doug Sax ā€” Mastering and Remastering
Year – Chart – Position
1979 – UK album chart – 3
1980 – The Billboard 200 – 1
1979 – Norway’s album chart – 1
Year – Single – Chart – Position
1980 – “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” – Pop Singles – 1
1980 – “Run Like Hell” – Pop Singles – 53
1980 – “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” – Norway’s single chart – 1
The above article is courtesy of Wikipedia.
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