Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

So you knew I would leave this one for last. Master Cianan is certain to be verily pleased that, indeed, there will be no more Floyd albums. So here we go. The Wall, as Bob has said, is rotten; but not in a musical sense. It's rotten in its megalomania, its bitterness, its complete and utter soullessness. In a way earlier alluded to on "Welcome To The Machine," Waters himself had become increasingly distant from his audience -- hence, his Wall. And as one would expect, the music itself is a kind of detached emptiness. Rotten? Thematically, yes. But that's the point. This is no longer the Oberon Miranda and Titania of yore where one of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces pieces even if I still need a damned Leer jet to seek shelter from pigs on the wing. This is pure technical musical execution done in the strictest sense; and that is precisely why Floyd is wonderful -- they have transformed their entire career: "Lucifer Sam," "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast," "Echoes," "Time," "Sheep," "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Run Like Hell," & etc. The music changed, the themes changed, they changed; and yet, they still sound like Pink Floyd, no matter what album it is. From the crazy days of psychedelia to the epic virtuosity of their golden years to this album, where there is nothingness. Syd is gone; they can't fucking stand each other, and they will soon cease to be, despite subsequent albums.

Furthermore, this is a double album. Such ambition always comes crashing down. Such ambition cannot be sustained. Such ambition is nothing more than wish-fulfillment of hubris. But yet, tell me, other than this album and maybe London Calling, what double album really strides from start to finish? The bloated Tommy opera? Charles Manson's Nightcap? It's simply criminal to not listen to this in its entirety, double album or not. Sure, everyone's heard "Comfortably Numb," "Run Like Hell," "Another Brick In The Wall," "Hey You," etc. a million or so times -- but, no excuses. Secondly, you must be coked the fuck out if Gilmour's guitar work doesn't make you want to run around jumping oh lordy and whammer jammering on your air guitar, especially to his immaculate solos on "Comfortably Numb." Thirdly, this is it. Don't go out and find The Final Cut and think there's more to come; this is it, the proverbial 'hitting a brick wall.' So go out, have a listen or forty, remember not to shit where you eat, and don't listen to Bob, ever. A


Master Cianan said...

Yep, this record should have been called the stinky poo show featuring the grumpiest men alive. It has all the soul of a John Tesh record.

taotechuck said...

Actually, I think that name is reserved for Bob's blog. But being as I write there, too, I guess that makes me one of the grumpiest men alive. Eh. Fair enough.

Despite years of bickering with Mr. Vinyl about the overall merits of The Wall, I've never bothered to go back and listen to the damned thing. But Mad, your comments about Mr. Gilmour's guitar playing just might do the trick. I think there's going to be a Stinky Poo Show in my near future. I can hardly wait.

Jeff said...

Uhh The Wall... I have such mixed feelings about this album because I feel it gets way too much credit in comparison to their golden years, but yet it's definitely a great album. I almost find myself hating it because of how much I defend albums like Atom Heart Mother and Obscured by Clouds over The Wall. As you said this probably is the best double disc album of any rock band. The Who's Tommy comes close for me, The Beatles White Album was fantastic but a little too much filler, and surprisingly I think The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness comes relatively close to The Wall but not quite as good. I should try to let go of my angst for the heavy Waters material but it's hard when he released such filth as The Final Cut.

By the way, THIS WAS THE FINAL REVIEW!?!? What about Zabriskie Point? That had some Floyd materia... Just kidding, great job with all the reviews.

The Mad Hatter said...

Master Cianan,

You and your poo can go elsewhere. Poo man. Poo boy. Poo fucker.


Well, just because you haven't listened to it in awhile doesn't mean a thing. Bob made a similar gaffe here in defending At The FIllmore East despite not having listened to it in eons.


Your hatred is kind of like a sibling rivalry. Sure, the youngest brother gets all the praise, but what about the middle children? Granted, I don't think Obscured gets as much praise as it should, just as you feel the same about Atom Heart Mother. The Wall, unfortunately, was monstrous and so it shall never, for some, live up to the hype. In fact, insofar as praise is concerned, Wish You Were Here isn't given it nearly as much as it should, either -- and it gets quite a bit, just not nearly as much as The Wall. -- And no, a few songs from Zabriskie Point does not a review make. Maybe in the future I'll consider some of their live discs or the singles compilations, but for now, that's it.

bob_vinyl said...

If being dull and redundant doesn't make it musically rotten, than what does? The biggest problem with The Wall is that it's essentially a Roger Water solo album and despite being somewhat of a visionary, he can't go it alone. Sure, "Comfortably Numb" is a great song (one of the few songs on here not written by Waters alone). I like "Goodbye Blue Skies" as well. Otherwise, dump this one in the crapper along with the other Waters solo material (Final Cut included).

I do agree about Gilmour's playing though. I have long felt that The Wall and Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking are musically similar (crap), but I can stomach The Wall much easier since I far prefer Gilmour's crisp, clean playing to Clapton's dirty playing. It's funny, because you would think the latter would be more emotional, but he's not. Gilmour is perhaps as underrated as Clapton is overrated.

The Mad Hatter said...

Well, I guess "dull and redundant" and "great" will never be used by either of us in the same sentence when describing The Wall, which is fine. But yes, Gilmour is definitely underrated. The band, arguably so, has superseded him insofar as recognition goes, whereas that sloppy bluesman Clapton seems to supersede everything he's been apart of. Sure, there are those who know he was in the Yardbirds or the Bluesbreakers, but he's an entity all unto himself, and a shitty one at that. Why some people still grant him any kind of relevance, besides that of a stage-hand or a stooge, utterly baffles me. Guitarists like Gilmour and Fripp, with their understated sense of playing, never get the kudos they deserve, even with the help of their bands.