The man must be a genius. Roger Waters- the bass player, composer, and creative guru behind one of the most celebrated bands in history- spawned a grand idea in his introspective head which needed to be ousted for the whole world to see. Obviously the exemplary insight into the stresses and pressures of the music business, The Wall came from an idea spawned from an incident during a live show. This is where some precursor- historical context is useful. Ahem; Roger and his fellow band mates, compromising Pink Floyd (Perhaps you’ve heard of them, yes?) were touring to promote their 1977 album, Animals. A stadium of adorning fans, perhaps excessively so, were oogling over the band as they played their songs, tired and worn from the demands of a World tour. Packed to the brim, these sold out shows were testament to the popularity of the band’s work. Previous hits like The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish you were Here, both stellar albums, would earn them an A-list label.
A fan in the front row of a July 6, 1977 show was so rowdy and compulsive in Roger’s presence though, that Roger was provoked to spitting on him and cursing like a pirate.
And so, Roger Waters pondered just what he was feeling which prompted him to detest playing shows. This annoyance, this utter frustration and alienation he felt towards his devoted fans was so persistent that he mused about building a wall between him and his fans to isolate himself from their antics. BUILDING A WALL. ISOLATION. This was the initial concept behind what would become Pink Floyd’s next concept album (The band is famous for their albums which explore one or many similar themes- a ‘concept album’, which are rare among popular artists today). Wow! What great potential this ‘wall’ concept had. What’s more great is the music created and live performances of the album which would ensue after the creative inception.
The Wall caresses every span of your emotional spectrum thoughtfully, with catchy rock riffs, dark atmosphere, memorable lyrics and a story to do so. Yes, a story is to be had in this fantastic album! Although initially just about Roger’s disdain towards his audience, the project soon came to incorporate other traumas- metaphorical ‘bricks’ in his wall. Now, not just the wall has purpose, but even the separate bricks which comprise the goal of its construction are meaningful. Such traumas include the loss of a father figure, an over-protective mother, abusive school teachers, failed marriages, marred perceptions of love, and others.
Although the album follows a fictional character by the name of Pink, you’d find that Pink’s circumstances are very resembling to those of Roger. -The Wall had become autobiographical! Remorseful cries to a father figure who left for the war early in Roger’s life, “Daddy, what’d you leave behind for me?!” are immediately followed by Roger’s past tense reflection of these long-lasting scars, “All in all it was just a brick in the wall”. For lyrics saturated with pathos that will touch you, what’s awesome is the dark melodies that the band’s instrumentation supplies for Waters’ tragic appeals. The guitar that David Gilmour brings to the album is top notch; with the echoes on his guitar mimicking a lonely voice in an empty world, and the now legendary solos on songs like ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Another Brick in the Wall, pt. 2’. Percussion and drums are also consistently tight, with a notably superb moment at the end of the song ‘The Happiest Days of our Lives’, before it segues into ‘Another Brick in the Wall, pt. 2’. Richard Wright’s keyboard work is the foundation of songs like ‘Nobody Home’, and provides a Hammond-organ style wail in the album’s first track, ‘In the Flesh?’
With a band whose history was in concept albums, they truly made the mother of all concept albums during their work on The Wall. Disturbing, thought provoking and scary, the album is sprinkled with sound effects and uncredited voices- much like Pink Floyd’s other seminal masterwork ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. These propel the narrative of Pink’s (Roger’s) life forward until the epic climax of the album, where the wall that Pink builds crumbles to the ground amidst the roars of his peers, “Tear down the Wall! Tear down the Wall!” It’s stirring. It’s got a very well thought out premise. And It’s a classic rock gem you are missing out on if you haven’t already heard it. Go and listen to ‘The Wall’, by Pink Floyd, today. You will find something great to appreciate in it, as I do.