“THE WALL” // THE LAST GREAT ALBUM OF THE 1970S

By Keith Lennox

Released in the UK in November 1979, and internationally in March of the following year, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” might be, arguably, not only the greatest album of the 1970s, but the best concept album in the history of music.  The band finished touring the album in June 1981, in Dortmund, Germany, with eight sold out shows.  The short lived tour was so popular the band decided to record five shows at Earl’s Court in London that were immortalized on the album, Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980 – 81.

One must wonder if the band, or Roger Waters in particular, had any idea what a masterpiece they had just unleashed upon the world?  The 81 minute double album was constructed with a conceptual backbone that has not even remotely been paralleled.  A sketchy semi-autobiographical piece penned almost exclusively by bass player, band co-founder, and chief architect, Waters, takes listeners on an adventurous trip that few albums could even begin to replicate, and I believe that few even dared to try.  How could they? To even think of such lofty goals would be folly.

It is nothing short of an adventure that takes its listeners on a story of a rock star pulverized by his post war upbringing and torn apart by an ever-growing greedy music industry.  We are invited, willingly or not, to bear witness to a man quickly coming unglued by the strains of life, the overuse of drugs and the occasional psychotic break. It may not be pretty, but the sounds that emanate from this tale are not that different from witnessing a car wreck… We are all helpless to turn away.   It is a driving, melodic, and hypnotizing opus.  An oratory assault that will not easily be forgotten, if indeed it ever is.

This is one of those rare albums that, I will say out loud and I know there are many who feel the same, changed my life. It hit me with such a wave of shock and intrinsic admiration, that I knew I would never listen to music in the same way again. It was heartbreak wrapped up in inspirational warmth that I don’t know I have felt to such a degree since. This album, along with Pete Townsend’s solo effort  ‘Empty Glass’ was the best music to come out of the eighties, and they both peaked in 1980.  Sorry to all the hair band fans out there.  I hope the nine of you never read this.

Rock, booze, drugs, death, violence, sex, and mental illness may be the themes of this project, but the way “The Wall” was recorded, engineered and mastered will place it in the annals of music history as one of the finest examples of perfection pressed to vinyl.

Thank you for allowing me to wax poetic about this album.  I was feeling a tad nostalgic realizing that the handful of shows on this tour was the last time the four original members of Pink Floyd played together until a one off reunion at Live 8 on July 2nd, 2005.  Sadly, it shall never happen again with the sudden passing of keyboardist/vocalist Richard Wright from cancer in 2008.

 

See Keith’s blog @ All-len-All.com

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