By Ellen Eldridge
This is not a review of Pink Floyd’s 1979 release The Wall. Those who grew up on it, got high to it, and fell in love with it already know the lyrics, and can visibly see the album art spackled to the lining of the walls in their minds. Fans have been pondering the point and often the pointlessness of fame and success for decades just as the main character, Pink, did throughout the partly autobiographical story that Roger Waters devised as the concept for The Wall. So, rather than a review, this is an exclamation and a celebration of the final installment of the recent Why Pink Floyd? reissues and extended releases.
Between 1980 and 1981, Pink Floyd staged 31 performances of The Wall in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. It was a spectacular show that included a 40-foot wall, constructed, brick by brick, across the front of the stage during the performance. In 2010 and 2011 Roger Waters toured a new production of The Wall to huge international acclaim. He was joined onstage in May 2011 at London’s 02 Arena by guitarist, David Gilmour and drummer, Nick Mason. He continues to tour in the Southern Hemisphere and North America in 2012.
The Wall Immersion 7-disc edition includes a DVD featuring a film clip from the 1980 tour and a “Behind The Wall” documentary, plus, for the first time, CDs of excerpts from Roger Waters’ original demos and work-in-progress versions of songs on the final album. Additionally, among these previously unheard versions are David Gilmour’s original demos of “Comfortably Numb” and “Run Like Hell.” The Immersion set also includes “The Wall Live,” compiled from the 1980-1981 original tour.
Both The Wall Immersion box set and Experience edition include a rare recording of “Another Brick In The Wall Part 1” with variance on the lyrics to include the line, “Should have seen them when the boys were young,” which adds an even more chilling sentiment to the classic track. A highlight for fans, this demo showcases the evolution of the final track. Additionally, “The Doctor” explores the origins of the landmark track “Comfortably Numb,” giving further insight into Pink Floyd’s early demo recordings. These new versions of The Wall offer listeners a unique insight into another hugely successful chapter in the Pink Floyd story.
Listening to these demos breathes new life into the concept. The lyrics and accompanying instrumentation will allow listeners to dive more deeply into the songs, and find new epiphanies in the story. Strangely enough, the February 28 release of the vinyl reissue comes on the tail of the loss of Whitney Houston; a time when many music fans are trying to identify the cracks in the walls between fans and the tortures of fame.
Either the seven-disc Immersion or the 3-disc Experience edition of The Wall will transport any Pink Floyd fan back to the day of first unwrapping The Wall or watching its artfully directed film.
The track listing for the Experience edition that I reviewed is as follows:
The original studio album (two CDs), digitally remastered by James Guthrie, with an additional CD featuring a selection of original album demo recordings and works in progress from different stages of the album, and a new 28-page lyric booklet, housed in a newly designed Digipak.
EXPERIENCE EDITION: THE WALL DEMOS
Programme 1 – Band Demos and Roger Waters Original Demo
1. Prelude (Vera Lynn) – Roger Original Demo
2. Another Brick in The Wall, Part 1 – Band Demo
3. Thin Ice – Band Demo
4. Goodbye Blue Sky – Band Demo
5. Teacher, Teacher – Band Demo
6. Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2 – Band Demo
7. Empty Spaces – Band Demo
8. Young Lust – Band Demo
9. Mother – Band Demo
10. Don’t Leave Me Now – Band Demo
11. Sexual Revolution – Band Demo
12. Another Brick in The Wall, Part 3 – Band Demo
13. Goodbye Cruel World – Band Demo
Programme 2 – Band Demos
1. In The Flesh? – Band Demo
2. Thin Ice – Band Demo
3. Another Brick in The Wall, Part 1 – Band Demo
4. The Happiest Days of Our Lives – Band Demo
5. Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2 – Band Demo
6. Mother – Band Demo
Programme 3 – (Band Demos)
1. One Of My Turns – Band Demo
2. Don’t Leave Me Now – Band Demo
3. Empty Spaces – Band Demo
4. Backs To The Wall – Band Demo
5. Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3 – Band Demo
6. Goodbye Cruel World – Band Demo
7. The Doctor (Comfortably Numb) – Band Demo
8. Run Like Hell – Band Demo