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Far beyond the confines of Rock Music
on 7 September 2014
1977. In England, the musical and cultural fabric of society is being rent asunder.The barriers between artist and fan are broken down. Even to the extent that fans spitting at their heroes, whilst not particularly pleasant is a symbol of how utilitarian things are becoming. Paul Cook sports a customised "I hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt
6/71977. In Montreal Canada, Roger Waters spits at a fan, and immediately defines in one gesture how isolated and out of touch the old heirachy are with their fans. So out of touch that when Roger plans another album, he uses as his inspiration the isolation of a rock star, i.e. himself. It should never have worked.
But it did. It worked in so many ways, this album is seen, quite rightly, as something far beyond the confines of "Rock Music" or even music itself. Some see it at art.
The phrase "Concept album" does not do it Justice. It is a story, set to music. A full on cinematic experience over four sides of vinyl.All of this set to the most incredible musical score.
It is a story of a rock star, Christened "Pink", looking back over his life. We join him on stage (In the Flesh)and later, he invokes his father who was lost to World war 2. This has left deep resentful scars deep in his psyche,(Another Brick in the Wall pt 1) and left his mother as being over protective and overbearing to the point of psychosis. (Mother)
His schooldays are marked by an authoritarian regime, determined to beat the individuality out of him. (Another Brick in the Wall pt 2). RW grows up, becomes a rock musician, enjoys success and all the benefits of it. (Young Lust) He has a wife who he treats badly, (One of my Turns/ Don't leave me now)He smashes hotel rooms up (Brick pt 3) The more successful he becomes, the more isolated he becomes (Comfortably Numb). He retreats into a world of drugs, 24 hour TV,motel rooms, and flirtations with facism. (In The Flesh) He builds a wall around himself. As the paranoia and mental instability takes hold, he "puts himself on trial" to face all his past misdemenours, and those who have sinned against him. Finally the wall comes down, leaving........ well that is left deliciously open.
This is clearly intended as only part of a full multi media assault, the record, the stage show (which was only in the UK for 15 shows) and the movie, which proved sadly impossible to get right. (it was a brave effort, one to be applauded, but never really lived up to its ambition. It never could really.) If this was made now, the coordination, the marketing, the organisation would be vastly slicker than what surrounded this.
As a stand alone double album, this delivers astonishing music, expertly played. It is original, challenging,fresh. It achieves the impossible. It makes the story of an isolated rock star engaging. It is an album with no filler, that can be listened to as individual songs, but should be listened to as a full story. As a psychoanaltycal experience, well, I hope RW got the therapy he clearly needed. As an artifact it is, if not the most important record of his generation, then surely one of the most stunning. It really is like punk never happened.
RWs obsession with the War, the fall out from it, and the percieved betrayal of forces sacrificed in it would be explored further in The Final Cut, a bitter and depressing tirade of an album. The Wall though is an extraordinary testament to one man's vision. Whether it is art is arguable. It is so much more than just music though.