Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pink Floyd - Bricks In The Wall (1980)



The 1977 "In the Flesh?" tour of Europe and North America was a massive success both commercially and musically for Pink Floyd, with them playing about 60 shows during the duration of its two legs. They sold out big arenas, and even though Animals didn't have the same commercial impact as the two albums before it, set attendance records all over during the tour. However, all was not well in the band: Roger Waters had, throughout the tour, began to show increasingly aggressive behavior outside the stage, and even sometimes towards the audience. He often yelled at disruptive fans who would not stop screaming and releasing fireworks during the more quieter numbers of the concert. All of that came to a head when, during the last night of the tour, in Montreal, Waters was performing "Pigs on the Wing, Pt. 2", alone on his acoustic guitar, when yet another group of fans started screaming and cracking fireworks, only this time considerably closer to the stage. He stopped the song three times, and during the third, barely made it to the verses, when the firecrackers started again. The band finishes the song, but as they play "Pigs (Three Different Ones)", Waters calls one of the fans responsible for that closer to him and proceeds to spit on him, out of anger.

That was something no one even noticed at the time, but it had an impact on Waters nevertheless, with him noticing his that stardom had alienated him from Pink Floyd's audience. He then started having ideas, especially regarding his desire to completely isolate himself from the world. He envisioned the construction of a wall across the stage between the band and the public during the shows, having expressed his dislike for performing in stadiums. With those ideas in mind, and with the band taking a long break after the tour, he started developing two concepts on his own. The first of them, about a man's self-imposed isolation, through the metaphor of a wall, after years of traumatic interactions with authority figures and the loss of his father at a very young age, being named Bricks on the Wall. The second, a concept album about a man's dreams across only one night that dealt with his marriage, sex, and the pros and cons of his family life, against a promiscuous life on the road, titled The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. He presented both to the band in July 1978, after a year-long break. The band eventually chose the "Bricks in the Wall" concept, with it being "more universal" in David Gilmour's words, with both even sharing some musical motifs.

The band had some doubts about the concept, and while they chose the Wall concept, according to Wright and Gilmour both had "no melody" and that if the band's situation hadn't been that bad at the moment, they would probably have expressed their dislike for it and started over from scratch. But they still soldiered on with the album, and with the help of producer Bob Ezrin, started works on the new album in December 1978 in Super Bear Studios, France. The recording sessions were nothing short of tense, with band members barely communicating and Ezrin having to serve as a mediator between them, mostly without any success. Things came to a point where Wright was sacked from the band, due to both his lack of contribution to the new concept and his constant fighting with Waters. He remained on the sessions, but as a hired gun only, playing the same part during the tour. Sessions were also held in New York, LA and the band's studio in Britannia Row, London. They were always being hurried, with them accepting larger advances for changing the deadline for delivering the album to CBS from early 1980 to November 1979, also having to edit out many small sections of songs, due to the time constraints of vinyl, even dropping a full song, "What Shall We Do Now?".

That problem was largely caused by the band and Ezrin's decision to trim what was in Roger's demos a triple album to a double, focusing on the more finished songs than on the bits and pieces also present. Some of the "bits and pieces" were later reused by the band for work in a follow-up album, updating some lyrics and finishing them. They also cut small sections of many songs, such as "Run Like Hell", trying to make the album more concise and "fittable" into the LP, with the album sides going past 20 minutes. After the The Wall Tour's conclusion, in June 1981, they had enough recordings for a live album, which they did not release until 2000's superb "Is There Anybody Out There? - The Wall Live", as well as professionally videotaping the final dates, for future use in the The Wall movie - which by then was half fictional, half concert film. The concert film idea was quickly dropped, with the excuse of the footage being "too dark", even though on the bootlegs, they look superb, despite the low quality. But nevertheless, as soon as The Wall became a fully fictional movie, Roger recorded a new song, "When the Tigers Broke Free", started way back in the Wall demos as "Anzio, 1944", and scrapped before the first production demo for being "too personal".

Free from the constraints of the album, many songs were presented in longer, unedited versions and some were even re-recorded altogether, such as "Bring the Boys Back Home" and "Mother". During most of the first semester of 1982, the plan was to release Spare Bricks, an album of both the re-recorded songs and new, Wall-related songs, to help "flesh-out" the narrative. The new tunes would also help to fill the album, as the band didn't feel there was enough strong material for a soundtrack. "The Hero's Return" and "One of the Few" were both brought back from the early Wall Demos, when they had the names "Teacher, Teacher" and "Teach", respectively. "Your Possible Pasts" and "The Final Cut" were in very embryonic form, as bits and pieces, being finished and re-written for the project, with the chorus from YPP even being recited by "Pink" on The Wall, as well as most of "The Moment of Clarity", a song which wouldn't appear until Roger, alone, released The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. The only real "new" song written for Spare Bricks was "The Fletcher Memorial Home", which didn't feature anything demoed before, and dealing with similar themes as most of the album's third side, such as war/politics and its impact on people, this time focusing on politicians.

But some things Roger wrote during those productive early writing sessions for the project still weren't worked on, such as the aforementioned "The Moment of Clarity", "Sexual Revolution", which was as well demoed in a semi-complete version for the Wall but only released in PACOHH. Finally, also written were the two other parts of "Is There Anybody Out There?", it being supposed to be a trilogy, as the three "Another Brick in the Wall"s, never being worked on or rewritten ever since. But as tension grew between Gilmour and Waters, something unexpected happened: in May 1982, after album sessions had already begun, Argentinian dictator Leopoldo Galtieri invaded the Falklands, leading to a war against Britain for the area. Roger Waters was enraged by this, seen as his generation had always envisioned WW2 to be "the war to end all wars", and then suddenly the Thatcher administration simply starts a new, pointless war against Argentina for a  small island, putting lives of people like his deceased fathers at risk. That sudden war led to a direction change on the sessions, from complementing The Wall to a new concept, namely "The Final Cut - A Requiem for the Post-War Dream", with him writing the rest of the LP's material based on that conflict.

With all that in mind, you might be wondering: is it possible to reconstruct the original, longer album that Waters and co envisioned in the first place? One of the best attempts at doing so was done by Marty of The Wall Complete, which I would definitely recommend to check out, since it's the version I based on to create this. And since we already have that, my focus is to, as well as add the missing sections of the songs, add all of the Spare Bricks and leftovers into the narrative, in order to assemble a wider, more fully-fleshed version of it, finally being able to see the album as was originally intended, a 3LP piece. My additions will base themselves on if the song was meant at any sense for the project (be it the album, movie, or soundtrack), and how/where it fits in inside the narrative, even resorting to edits in some cases to make them fit completely. Since we're talking about 1980 here, I'll only use the studio versions (with one exception I'll explain later), because although the live takes are fantastic, the sides would be, well, too long to fill into three pieces of vinyl, and the live/studio hybrid doesn't work well in this setting due to difference in sound and the sheer difficulty of managing to edit both together. But without stretching this any longer than we already have, here's our tracklist:

First Act - Under Construction
Side One:
01 In the Flesh?
02 The Thin Ice
03 When the Tigers Broke Free
04 Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1
05 The Happiest Days of Our Lives
06 Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
Side Two:
07 One of the Few
08 The Hero's Return, Pts. 1 & 2
09 Mother
10 Goodbye Blue Sky
11 What Shall We Do Now?
12 Young Lust
Side Three:
13 One of My Turns
14 Don't Leave Me Now
15 Sexual Revolution
16 Empty Spaces
17 Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3
18 Goodbye Cruel World

Second Act - Inside the Wall
Side One:
01 Hey You
02 Is There Anybody Out There?
03 Nobody Home
04 Your Possible Pasts
05 Vera Lynn
06 Bring the Boys Back Home
07 The Fletcher Memorial Home
Side Two:
08 Comfortably Numb
09 Isn't This Where We Came In?
10 The Show Must Go On
11 In the Flesh
12 Run Like Hell
Side Three:
13 Waiting for the Worms
14 Stop
15 The Final Cut
16 A Moment of Clarity
17 The Trial
18 Outside the Wall


Our story begins with "In the Flesh?", mostly an introduction to Pink's narrative, and happening way after most facts on the album. This more "complete" version features the "The Little Boy Santa Claus Forgot" movie intro, and some small sections, present on other versions and cut on the album. Afterward, a baby's cry leads us to "The Thin Ice", a story about Pink as an infant and his parents' view of the world, warning him about the dangers of life in society. This features a short piano intro cut from the LP, where that and ITF? segued directly. Up next is "When the Tigers Broke Free", first demoed during the "The Wall" sessions, and only used in the movie. This version is a new, different mix, using a shorter intro and different vocals in some parts, as well as some pretty neat added military snares. As track number four we have the first part of "Another Brick in the Wall", introducing the impact of his father's passing on him as a child, being the first bricks in his wall, and we stick with the original version of it. Up next we have "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" and the second part of "Another Brick in the Wall", as the album's hit single. They are both in their original form, even though their live, longer counterparts are just as great, with added solos and jamming.

Introducing a new point of view to the story, we have "One of the Few". Sung from the viewpoint of the teacher, it tells of his experiences coming home from the war and having to pick a career. Used is the regular TFC version, segueing into "The Hero's Return". That tune is as well about the teacher's life and frustrations, and our version of choice is an edit of both parts, excluding the "the gunner's dying words" verse and going directly into the second part of it. Up next is "Mother", dealing with Pink's overprotective and overbearing mother, who then becomes one more brick in his wall. Here we use the 1982 movie version, in order to add some variation. As song number ten we have "Goodbye Blue Sky", mostly a wartime story used as a metaphor for our protagonist's loss of innocence, and entrance into adulthood, with the "phone call" part tacked on at the end of it. After that, we have the movie version of "What Shall We Do Now?", which speaks of Pink asking himself what he should use to finish his wall, citing many things associated with his rock n' roll lifestyle he could use. Up afterward is "Young Lust", with him cheating on his wife after being cheated on, featuring an extended intro not featured on the album, as well as a "phone-call free" fadeout, fading normally.

Soon after the groupie's monolog, we have "One of My Turns", where he destroys his hotel room and scares the girl away from him. We use the regular album version, segueing into "Don't Leave Me Now", with Pink begging his wife not to leave, and citing his less than valid reasons for still wanting her. We use the regular take of it, however fading out a little later. "Sexual Revolution", sourced from Pros and Cons, begins next, in its regular album version. It tells of Pink's relationships and views towards women, and was even demoed during the Wall sessions. Right afterward, "Empty Spaces" begins, in its intended spot, as a reprise of WSWDN?, wishing to fill the last few slots in the wall. Up next is the third part of "Another Brick in the Wall", where Pink's basically telling himself he can live behind the wall without any outside contact whatsoever. Here, we use its album version, as well as "The Last Few Bricks", an instrumental medley from its live incarnation, used as an outro for it. Finally, after that, we have "Goodbye Cruel World", his final farewell to the outside world, where he finally shuts down completely. We use its regular version, with a dark, distorted instrumental reprise of "The Thin Ice" from the demos being used as its outro, as his descent into the Wall, so to speak.

The second half of the album begins with the album version of Hey You, where Pink tries to call out to the outside world but realizes that he has been shut out entirely, and he is completely alone. Next up we have Is There Anybody Out There?, a plea from the imprisoned Pink, calling for the attention of anyone beyond his wall, getting no answer. We use its regular take, segueing into "Nobody Home". That same song, used here in its original version, although live takes featured a guitar solo, deals with Pink's many possessions and addictions, and while he has all that, he is still alone and can't get to reach his wife, or anyone for that matter. Up afterward is "Your Possible Pasts", one of the many spare bricks, dealing both with Pink's isolation and already adding some war themes, something predominant in the next couple of songs, forming a "bridge" of sorts. Next is "Vera Lynn" in its regular version, dealing with the promise that the soldiers would return, as in Vera's song, "We'll Meet Again", but in Pink's case, his father did not, and he is asking himself what has become of that. After that, the superior, movie version of "Bring the Boys Back Home" comes in, pleading that the soldiers come home from the war, and that the children aren't left fatherless, as Pink was before.

Keeping on with the war themes, "The Fletcher Memorial Home" is a criticism of world leaders, accusing them of sacrificing human lives for their political objectives, featured here without its spoken word bridge, it being instrumental instead. Up next is the fantastic "Comfortably Numb", about how Pink has finally gone insane, no longer telling the real world from the one he has created, while here its regular version with the coda of BTBBH as an intro is used. "Isn't This Where We Came In?" is the other two parts of ITAOT? I mentioned before, only retitled and shortened a bit. It is kept in its original position, however, and still has the same usage, a last cry for help before his fascist hallucination. "The Show Must Go On", now featuring the lost verse, cut at the last minute. It talks about Pink's uncertainty if he could perform at his concert. Afterwards, we have "In the Flesh", with the same added section from its earlier counterpart, where he has the hallucination his concert has become a fascist rally, and that he is its leader. In the same vein, "Run Like Hell", also has him threatening his audience, with racist insults and so on. This song features about one minute of music originally cut, mainly on its introduction and middle section, finally being a "complete" song.

Our final side opens with Waiting for the Worms, where Pink once more has one of his fascist rants, and says that if his listener wishes things to be as they used to, they need to follow him. This version has the extended movie coda edited in, resulting in a couple more chants of "hammer". But after that, all falls to pieces with "Stop", where he realizes what he has done, and wonders if he's guilty about it. "The Final Cut" comes in next, where he falls into depression once more, and almost commits suicide, due to his actions on the previous songs. On "The Moment of Clarity", recorded by Roger alone, he decides and tries to show his feelings, tries to open himself, and fails, a feeling also expressed on the last few verses of "The Final Cut", before his failed suicide attempt. Most probably the centerpiece of the whole album, "The Trial" is next, where Pink, after being caught "showing feelings", is put on a mental trial, with all the figures from his past there to judge him. This version has both a longer intro and outro, sourced from the live version, with more "tear down the wall!" chants as well. "Outside the Wall", here in its movie version, serves as an optimistic ending to the story, telling people that it's not easy to feel that way, and that, after all, they're not alone.

I like the end result of this 36-song long monstrosity, which explains a lot more of the story than the released version ever tried to tell us to begin with. It creates a bigger and more developed universe, giving us other smaller stories and even more detail and reasons for Pink to have done what he did, before it all collapsed and ended with "Outside the Wall". It is, yes, much more overblown, and I'll admit that even maybe too long (there are even folks that consider the normal one too long!). But anyway, as an experiment, and a tryout at telling the complete story, it works pretty well. It gives us the teacher's point of view of the world, and the little sections of songs added somewhat improve the album's flow, now it was allowed to go on longer. The sides are all in the margin of 21-23 minutes long, with all tunes more or less evenly distributed, so to not end up having the album with bad sound quality due to long sides, one of the main worries Waters and co. had with the original album. The new songs also benefit from the narrative and music of the album in a great way, with most songs given a brand new meaning outside their common albums, and finally being awarded the context they deserve. Now that all was said and done, we were finally able to put the final bricks in the wall.

Sources used:
- The Wall Complete (Fan remix)
- The Wall (Immersion Edition)
- The Final Cut (2004 remaster)
- Soundtrack from The Wall (bootleg)
- Under Construction (Bootleg)
- The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, I will now rearrange the tracks as you did, thanks

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! This sequence is pretty good, so good luck with that!

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  2. I am so glad to see you back again! I enjoy this version of "The Wall" even more than the previous one you made! I know this would screw up timelines and all, but my only wish is if The Tide Is Turning from 1987's Radio KAOS was written 8 years earlier. It would've been placed in between The Trial and Outside The Wall like on the Live In Berlin album. What do you think of this idea? Can't wait to see some more of your albums, they're great!

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  3. Thanks! And I agree with you, Tide is Turning is a great song, and really fits in well within the story (even gives us a happier ending). The only reason I didn't include that, or other later material for that matter, was because there was no connection to TW in the sense the others here have, and also *that* 80s production doesn't hep either.

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  4. Haha! I've always considered The Wall to be too long. And you go ahead and make it longer. Here's a nice single disc version:
    THE WALL
    Side 1 - 22:20
    1. In the Flesh 3:16
    2. The Thin Ice 2:27
    3. Another Brick in the Wall 3:59
    4. Mother 5:32
    5. Young Lust 3:25
    6. One of My Turns 3:41

    Side 2 - 23:53
    1. Hey You 4:40
    2. Comfortably Numb 6:23
    3. The Show Must Go On 1:36
    4. Run Like Hell 4:20
    5. The Trial 5:13
    6. Outside the Wall 1:41

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  5. https://mega.nz/#F!kgIEFTTD!flM5t6UBfXB7ech-FQIykQ

    Mind giving your thoughts on my Alternate Yellow Submarine album?

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    Replies
    1. It's pretty good, actually! I liked the track selection quite a lot, and it flows pretty well, good job.

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    2. I updated the tracklist a bit, but there is still good folow

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  6. Could you re-post your great alternate version of The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars?

    ReplyDelete