Pink Floyd released “The Wall” on November 30th 1979. With hindsight, it should have been the bands last album. All material after The Wall is Cash Cow fan service – nothing more, nothing less.
The Wall only got to Number 3 in the U.K. album charts. It did however spawn the most unlikely Christmas Number 1 single the U.K. is likely to ever see (hear). The album went 23 times platinum in the USA, surely that gave the band and EMI enough money to go out in style?
“Another Brick In The Wall part 2” has lush production so spot on that if you listen to it now you could imagine it was Radiohead circa OK Computer or something? (“When I am King you will be first against the wall” – anybody). Instantly warm and undeniably catchy – yet scathing in equal measure. It’s fair to point out “the masses” of the record buying public missed the dark themes the track suggests.
As a kid that had just turned nine years of age – I loved the track. It had it all. Artistic imagery that stirred the imagination. The cartoon parts drew me to it, the chorus was like a precursor to Grange Hill. It was easy to identify with kids in the playground (in the video) chanting “Hey – teacher, leave them kids alone”.
Facebook propelled Rage Against The Machine to Christmas Number 1 in the U.K. a few years ago – but I doubt we’ll get a better (anti) Christmas Number 1 in our lifetimes. (I admit it’d be great if Nirvana can emulate this, this coming week – fingers crossed). That said, “Another Brick In The Wall part 2” was a PROPER Number 1 single.
The preceding album “Animals” was untimely and the timing was off with punk blowing up. Pink Floyd were dinosaurs, wallowing dinosaurs but The Wall (the album) is up their as one of their finest moments.
It’s kind of like Pink Floyd acknowledged punk had happened. Although the album is as “stadium” as you can get it is a sneering, venomous body of art. Self-loathing, war, divorce, drugs, loss, grief, isolation – it’s knowingly pomp, but a great blueprint for how a rock opera should play-out. The Sex Pistols could not (and should not) have ever made such an album.
I have listened to The Wall this morning. It is not perfect. Parts of it do want make you want to slap Roger Walters around the chops and scream “get a grip”. Having not listened to the album in its entirety for around 15 years I must say it hangs together very well though. Storytelling that is left open to the imagination is the best kind.
I’d forgotten how great some of the tracks on The Wall are. The punch, rhythm and clatter of “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives”. The sheer familiarity of “Another Brick In The Wall”. The deep warmth of “Mother”. The hidden menace in the lush “Goodbye Blue Sky”. The threat of “Empty Spaces”. The direct wanton of “Young Lust”. The madness in “One Of My Turns”. The finality in “Goodbye Cruel World”. The downright pomp of “Hey You”. The altered state of “Is There Anybody Out There?” The self loathing and cry for help in “Nobody Home”. The sheer mastery of “Comfortably Numb”, (arguably the best track on the album). The panic inducing “Run Like Hell”. The near vocal experimentation in “Waiting For The Worms”.
I received “The Wall” for Christmas in 1986 on vinyl along with “Music For Pleasure” by The Damned. Although I loved The Damned I spent most of the Christmas Holiday exploring Pink Floyd’s back catalogue with Xmas money. My favourite release by Pink Floyd is not an album – but the film – Live In Pompeii, I can’t say why, there’s just something about the band at that era that for me is their peak. The Syd Barrett material should be considered as almost another band altogether – and an outstanding “other band” at that.
For me “The Wall” will always be, oddly, a Christmas album – I’m sure the band never intended it to be interpreted this way, but, Hey-Ho… Merry Christmas…(don’t get too Numb).