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- howzat "howzat" - The Floyd classic that will leave you comfortably numb!The Wall (1979.), Pink Floyd's eleventh studio album
During the 1970's, Pink Floyd had a phenominal run of classic albums. It all started with 1971's 'Meddle', which was the first album which exhibited the 'classic' Floyd sound. The following albums, the immortalising 'Dark Side Of The Moon', 'Wish You Were' and 'Animals' proved the band were on the top of their game. With every album the band pushed musical boundaries and explored new sounds, whilst at the same time defying current trends, such as punk, which were out to render the band obsolete to the current music scene. However, in the midst of these newly scaled heights, the band's stability and cohesiveness was far from great. From 'Wish You Were Here' onwards, bassist Roger Waters began to take over the songwriting more and more, forcing the other band members contributions to be minimal. As a good a writer as Waters was, this was not good for the band's chemistry. Still however, when 'The Wall' hit the stores in 1979, it was a massive hit and has gone on to be one of the band's biggest selling albums. The question is, just how well does the band's multiplatinum selling concept album work?
Although this for me, is not Pink Floyd's best album, 'The Wall' is a literally awesome album. However, it is also a work which takes a number of listens to fully appreciate. This is not surprising, as aside from the well known staples from the album such as 'Another Brick In The Wall, Part II' and 'Comfortably Numb', many of the songs are snippets of a larger concept which hangs loosely together. 'The Wall' is a concept album based around the life of a rock star and the troubles and loss of direction he suffers. The concept doesn't hang together amazingly well, and may not even be spotted by the unsuspecting listener. However, there is no denying the amazing ambition that Pink Floyd exhibit in this album, which is enough to glue the work into the classic it is recognised as. Indeed, as other reviewers have stated, the album as a whole is greater than the sum of parts. 'The Wall' pushes so many boundaries it seems to good to be true. This is all the more remarkable given that it is mostly the work of one man, Roger Waters. Musically, the album has plenty of solid, classic bass lines and some great guitar moments from David Gilmour, such as in 'Comfortably Numb' and 'In The Flesh'. Although the efforts from Rick Wright and Nick Mason at times seem muted, in no part due to being shoved out of songwriting, the simple drum beats and keyboard interludes add greatly to the overall ambience of the record. The album succeeds in sustaining the listener's interest right over it's 80+ minute run time and shapes up to be a great epic. This is truly, Pink Floyd's last classic work.
Both sides of the album feature a large number of songs, some long and some short, snippet styled songs, which form the album's concept. Disc 1 for the album kicks off with 'In The Flesh', which has a quiet start before a rip roaring guitar entry from Dave Gilmour. The song shapes up to be a hard hitting rock staple which sets up the album nicely. 'The Thin Ice' is an acoustic, lyrically cynical follow up and 'Another Brick In The Wall, Part I' has muted guitar, and pent up energy bubbling beneath the surface. 'The Happiest Days Of Our Lives' has some snarling vocals from Roger Waters. Musically, the song sets the scene perfectly for 'Another Brick In The Wall, Part II', the famous hit song. This song is definitely not overatted; the children's chorus chant is classic and innovative and Gilmour's guitar exit is phenominal. The stripped down, acoustics 'Mother' is next up. This 5 minute song is very underrated, has some clever climatic moments and some great lyrics.
The second half of CD 1 kicks off with 'Good Bye Blue Sky', a slow introspective song with a classic Floyd pacing to it. 'Empty Spaces' follows, incorporating forboding mechanical sounds at the start and a short Waters lyrical interlude. Next up though is one of the best tracks on the album in 'Young Lust'. Great guitar riffs and a catchy 'Dirty Woman...' chorus are great. Gilmour's guitar work screams through the tapestry of the song. 'One Of My Turns' is next; the song starts with a short interlude, depicting the rock star in the concept drifting out of consciousness, the song builds into a song with a typical Floyd groove, with dispairing lyrics. 'Don't Leave Me Now' is a downcast interlude and 'Another Brick In The Wall, Part III' is a reprise of the earlier song in a different style. 'Goodbye Cruel World' is a short narrative song to close the first half of the album.
CD 2 kicks off with the slow and stately, but mightily effective 'Hey You'. An atmospheric song, with a classic Floyd bass line and great introspective lyrics. Following this a linking track in 'Is There Anybody Out There?', with plenty of noise effects, which is then followed by 'Nobody Home', which is a slow lyrical yearn, with the rock star in the album concept searching to find his place in the world. 'Vera' is a short, theatrical sounding follow up track and 'Bring The Boys Back Home' is a dramaticised track. Both these songs, filler songs really are the backdrop though to the greatest song on the album. Yep, you guessed it, 'Comfortably Numb', 6 minutes of pure genius. The song is slow and stately but captivating and empowering. The orchestral backing gives the song a great edge and the lyrics are great. Gilmour excels yet again in his guitar solo.
The second half of CD 2 starts with 'The Show Must Go On', which is a nice semi-harmonised song. A welcome reprise of 'In The Flesh' follows and then a great storming track in 'Run Like Hell', with bursting guitars and stomping bass lines. 'Waiting For The Worms' and 'Stop' keep the album's concept going, with more pleading lyrics. 'The Trial' is an interesting and rather amusing song. This song is the trial going on inside the rock stars head as he tries to get other his troubles. Some of the voice overs are quite funny. The song ends with chants of 'Tear Down The Wall', before it fades into a low key closing track in 'Outside The Wall', which wraps up the album's concept.
So, as you might gather from my run down of the album's songs, some of the tunes are a bit odd and need to be appreciated in context. However, this album still has some amazing songs which are some of the band's best and the sheer ambition that the album holds keeps the whole thing together. 'The Wall' is an immensely popular effort from the band and I personally would rate it up there with the band's other classic efforts. If your new to the Floyd, get 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here' first. If you like those, and I'm confident that you will, then get 'The Wall' as you'll be sure to enjoy it. Highly recommended!
MY RATING: 9/10
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