Pink Floyd, The Wall

Dan Epstein

By Dan Epstein

on 06.08.11 in Reviews

The Wall (2011 - Remaster)

Pink Floyd
A full-blown rock opera about the traumas, trials and general alienation of a rock star

After three straight concept albums, Roger Waters upped the ante even further with 1979's The Wall, leading Pink Floyd through a full-blown rock opera about the traumas, trials and general alienation of a rock star. Inspired by Waters's experiences on the band's unwieldy "In The Flesh" tour of North America, in which they supported 1977's Animals with series of gigs at football and baseball stadiums, The Wall explores the way Waters felt increasingly disconnected from his fans, his loved ones and even himself as Pink Floyd became bigger and bigger; it also draws upon the death of his father during WWII, and the oppression and abuse he experienced at the hands of his mother and teachers while growing up. As unpromising a premise as that all sounds, Waters (who was clearly in the driver's seat at this point) somehow pulls it off; even though it completely ignores one of Pink Floyd's greatest strengths — there are no extended instrumental forays to be found anywhere on the album — The Wall is never less than a compelling, and often cathartic, listening experience. The album's 26 songs admittedly include several tracks that are little more than interludes or obvious devices to move the plot along, but they're also held together by some of the band's finest moments: the anthemic "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2," the profoundly creepy "Mother," the throbbing "Young Lust," the propulsive "Run Like Hell" and "Comfortably Numb," the latter of which is quite possibly the most beautiful ode to complete detachment ever recorded, and which contains one of David Gilmour's most memorable guitar solos. Though the album's fractious recording sessions certainly sewed the seeds for the ugly split between Waters and the rest of the band — Waters actually fired keyboardist Rick Wright before the album was finished, then "allowed" him to come back as a hired session man — The Wall's enduring music (and popularity) makes it hard to totally second-guess Waters's drive for complete creative control.