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Pink Floyd - The Wall

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by mellowinman, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. Commercial

    3 vote(s)
  2. Ambigous (not commercial, not not commercial)

    13 vote(s)
  3. Not Commercial

    41 vote(s)
  4. Another Carrot in the Wall Part III

    13 vote(s)
  1. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Pink Floyd - The Wall is one of the most amazing of all concept albums ever created. It has the most coherent story, that's for sure. A kid's dad goes off to war and gets killed. The kid is raised by an overbearing mother; attends schools with overbearing teachers; marries a woman who he mistreats and cheats on, and who, in turn, mistreats and cheats on him. He becomes a rock star, abuses drugs, embraces fascism, and goes insane.

    It's a very nice piece of art, and as hard as Roger Waters tried to make it dark, depressing, scary and cruel, his musical collaborator, David Gilmore kept throwing in pretty guitars, and adding just enough light to give the story a level of depth even Waters could not have achieved on his own.

    Why then, do most Pink Floyd fans who dislike this album complain it is too commercial?

    Of the 26 songs on this record, only 5 get much radio play:

    1. Another Brick in the Wall Part II (Number 1 Single UK, US, Number 2 Australia)
    2. Comfortably Numb (did not chart as a single)
    3. Young Lust (did not chart as a single)
    4. Run Like Hell (Number 53 US)
    5. Hey You (did not chart)

    Now, granted, the album sold a bazillion copies, but not as many as Dark Side of the Moon. Some of the songs have catchy, Motown-ish bass lines, (mostly due to David Gilmore's influence,) but this album is very, very personal. It combines Roger Waters biography, his own mental breakdown, and bad attitude towards people with the sad story of Syd Barrett, and has a ton of social commentary, and very heavy, dangerous subject matter.

    It has lyrics like,

    You better run all day
    And run all night.
    Keep your dirty feelings
    Deep inside.
    And if you're taking your girlfriend
    Out tonight
    You'd better park the car
    Well out of sight.
    Cause if they catch you in the back seat
    Trying to pick her locks,
    They're gonna send you back to mother
    In a cardboard box.
    You better run.


    Day after day, love turns grey
    Like the skin of a dying man.
    Night after night, we pretend its all right
    But I have grown older and
    You have grown colder and
    Nothing is very much fun any more.
    And I can feel one of my turns coming on.
    I feel cold as a razor blade,
    Tight as a tourniquet,
    Dry as a funeral drum.

    and the darkest, bleakest lyrics since Lou Reed's Berlin:

    Ooooh Babe.
    Dont leave me now.
    How could you go?
    When you know how I need you
    To beat to a pulp on a Saturday night
    Ooooh Babe.

    I can't think of a commercial album with lyrics such as these, especially sang (spat out) in such jaded desperation as Waters commits to on these vocals. This album feels utterly real, and legitimate to me, as Roger Waters is taking on the persona of a truly horrible, hateful man, who has lost touch with his humanity.

    "The Trial," has always felt, to me, like Waters indicting himself, for being a jaded, cynical bastard, who had become hard to deal with, and impossible to live with. The man started with anger towards his fans, and ended up with hatred towards himself.

    The previous album, "Animals," showed where he was headed, as a songwriter. How can such a wealthy, and successful person feel so much pain? I've always ascribed it to mental illness.

    When the film, "The Wall" came out, a friend of mine had gone to see it, and was sorely disappointed.

    "Its not what you think its about," he glumly told me, and I told him I had listened to the album through headphones enough times that I was sure I knew exactly what it was about.

    I described the film scene by scene, based on the songs on the album. He was amazed, and thought I was messing with him.

    "You saw it," he taunted, but I hadn't. Plus, I hadn't gotten everything right, as they switched up some of the music. I correctly surmised the beginning; the "Goodbye Blue Sky" part; (it reminded me of my own mother, who was a child when the German planes flew over Scotland,) and what most surprised him was how well I described the "Comfortably Numb" part, and Pink (Bob Geldof)'s transformation into a Nazi-like character.

    The album/film was never pro-racism; pro-totalitarianism, or any of those things; from my perspective it was ANTI all those things; at least that's how it looked through MY lens. Because in good art, it's not just up to the artist to make a statement; it is also up to the audience to perceive that statement.

    When this album came out, I was 16 years old; highly impressionable, and listening to the other double record masterpiece of that year, "London Calling," by the Clash. I had my feet firmly in the worlds of Punk Rock, Classic Rock, and experiments in Reggae, New Wave, Jazz Fusion, and of course, my first love: Classical Music.

    Pink Floyd - The Wall is not by any means the best album the band released. I would still have to say their big three of Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals contain a body of work that would be hard to rival. Still, every album was harder to follow than the one before, and in the case of The Wall, that would be it. They might still have put out some good songs, but never again did the band, or Waters as a solo artist put out something so deep, coherent, lovely, dark, and influential, nor did many or even any bands.

    So if you want to call it "too commercial," your opinion is as valid as anyone's, but for me, that album was as far from purposely commercial as any I've ever heard.

    A truly monumental album, that has stood the test of time remarkably well.
    Datsgor, Dec1975, Stewie26 and 7 others like this.
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I think David Gilmore's assessment of the record sums it up best: The Wall is nothing more than Roger Waters blaming all of his problems on everybody else.

    While I agree with David, I do think it is a fantastic record and a true masterpiece. It is rather deep if you really want dig into it. I listened to that album a lot. I really enjoy the "Isn't this where we came in?" that ties the entire record together.
    SanDiegoHarry likes this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Great concept, heavy HEAVY music. Like others, a victim of its own success. Other than Brick in the Wall II, nothing "commercial", but because it was played on the radio so much, we think of it that way.
    SasquatchDude likes this.
  4. Mikhail1


    Apr 8, 2008
    Ok this is my opinion and only my opinion. I was in high school at the time and everyone who was a Floyd fan (including me) had been hearing a lot of pre release hype about the new album. It had been quite a period of time since their last release so when it came out, it received good reviews and a good bit of air play on local FM stations. Of course, the movie helped make it a mainstream success. That's where I think all the "old" Floyd fans started whining about the "commercialism" of the album. Up until that point, Pink Floyd was definitely NOT mainstream and I think the older fans still wanted that to be true. I don't for one minute think that Pink Floyd put out "The Wall" intending it to be the commercial success it turned out to be. And I remember most fans at that time believing the album was pretty much about Syd Barrett. Some people just want to be the "cool" people listening to their secret stash of music that is out of the mainstream. It's kinda like punk, once it caught on with the masses, the party was over. Now, have I dated myself or What??
    MonetBass likes this.
  5. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    Let me preface this by saying I saw Dark Side of them Moon live at the Auditorium Theater, Wish You Were Here at Summerfest and Animals at Soldier Field. I have bought their albums new form Umma Gumma to the Final cut.

    I think The Wall is one of their lesser efforts. Musically and lyrically repetitive.
  6. Whether "commerciality" was the intention or not it was undoubtedly the result. Floyd was commercially successful before anyway. Strictly on their own terms as always.
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I think The Wall was the best single album ever written. The way it was put together is pure genus, and I think it blows their other albums clean out of the water.
    deathsdj likes this.
  8. Bassmanmike1

    Bassmanmike1 Sittin' In Limbo

    Jan 13, 2011
    Marysville, CA
    Thank you. I know we're in the minority here, but this is my feeling too. They totally lost me with this album. Give me Meddle or WYWH over The Wall anytime. And I was also at those WYWH and Animals shows.
  9. The Wall is a great lp. There is no sell out, BUT, a couple of songs have sorta disco vibe bass lines… Conspiracy to draw in the kids like me into the serious cool tunes at a mere age of 9. :cool:
    Listen to Don't Leave Me Now and Waiting for the Worms, The Trial, The Thin Ice, Empty Spaces, etc. sound like a hit? :rollno: Actually, it's ridiculous to imagine this double lp full of angst and orchestration (and a story to follow?) would ever be considered a sell out, comparing it to what was popular at the time-- or ever: before/after?
    water's rules,
    fnord! :cigar:
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  10. Epidrake


    May 24, 2011
    It's an amazing album. It's as much a Pink Floyd album as a Bob Ezrin album. Ezrin was an incredible producer. He left his mark on every album he produced.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    On this site? I don't think you are in the minority. I've seen a lot of posts in Pink Floyd threads about this, and that's why I chose to post this one. I don't feel it is musically repetitive much at all. Sure there's Another Brick in the Wall parts I, II and III, but they are very diverse takes on a theme. Gilmore felt Waters' original concept and demos WERE a bit repetitive, musically, and he went to a lot of trouble to break them up, and give them different styles. I think he largely succeeded.

    Lyrically, I feel each of the four sides is a distinct act, and I see a real evolution of ideas. I can't get on board with this being a lesser effort. I notice on the post-Waters albums, a real effort to capitalize on revisiting the Dark Side of the Moon sound, with all the big female backing vocals, and ethereal sound effects.

    The Wall used more aggressive, in-your-face sound effects, but it was still a Pink Floyd album. My biggest complaint is the lack of Rick Wright's hand, however, that may have been Wright's own fault, as he simply felt alienated from the group, and was battling addiction at the time, and he simply wasn't contributing in a productive way. How much of that was Waters' fault, only a real insider could know for sure.

    I think you will find a lot of Pink Floyd die-hards consider The Wall a step in the wrong direction, but not me, man. I consider it part of the series of Great Albums that began with Atom Heart Mother, and ended here. I am no fan of The Final Cut, or any post-Waters albums. They all have great songs, but none are great albums.

    The Wall was the album that destroyed the band, but it sure was a good one.
    deathsdj likes this.
  12. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I think it's a great LP. I love it, but it gets played to death on the classic rock stations around here. (at least it's radio cuts) As far as greatest concept album? Probably an age or a favorite bassist thing but, I prefer Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche. But that's just me....:whistle:
    bftbassman likes this.
  13. Brilliant, IMHO. This and Animals are my faves. Followed by Meddle and DSOTM. Wish You Were Here never really struck a chord with me, I like it, but somehow I don't connect on the same level with it as the others.
  14. I agree with that. I saw Floyd the same summer I saw Waters on his Radio KAOS tour. He blew them away IMHO. I think that's a pretty good album (I think I'm one of about 5 people who think this), although you need to look past some of the mid 80s production.
  15. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I bought the album just after high-school, loved it... but for me, earlier PF work is better. Sure, there's some great guitar and a few truly epic tunes... but it's no Dark Side.
    Lionel Albert, Robroy and the general like this.
  16. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I always liked this very simple lyric, and vocal delivery:

    You wake up in the morning, get something for the pot
    Wonder why the sun makes the rocks feel hot
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  17. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Regarding repetitiveness of The Wall, I liken it to recurring motifs you hear in the big classical pieces. I view the album as a whole rather than the sum of its songs. The "we don't need no education" motif even turns up in Hey You. That type of thing is not typical in rock music short of rock music and can be mistaken for repetitiveness.

    In my opinion, the only thing that made The Wall "commercial" was that it sold a butt load of copies.
  18. Yeah, me too. And what is that flute "ish" thing playing throughout the tune?

    I like that you point out the delivery, which is something I have always liked about him. Timing, inflection, phrasing, all of that is SO important.

    I like this bit:
    They like a bomb proof cadillac
    Air conditioned, gold taps,
    Back seat gun rack, platinum hub caps
  19. Exactly! I saw Les Mis several times (the play, not the movie) before I picked up on the same device being used. There may be a total of four melodies used throughout (no, I have not counted).
  20. I LOVE Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking AND Amused to Death.
    are you kidding me? somehow that's bad music?

    No sir, it is wonderful! Clapton, Beck… that's not chop liver.
    Talk about not being a commercial sell out!
    that's my boy George!

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