Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews

Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) – Immersion Box Set EMI – 7 Discs (6 CDs + 1 DVD)

The latest boxed set of Pink Floyd’s re-issue catalogue is amazing.

Published on April 2, 2012

Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) – Immersion Box Set EMI – 7 Discs (6 CDs + 1 DVD) includes 44-p. booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson, Gerald Scarfe art print, photo book, collector’s cards, replicas of tour ticket and backstage pass, art scarf, printed cards of Mark Fisher’s stage drawings, 3 brick-designed marbles in black bag, set of coasters, 8-p. credits booklet and lyrics booklet handwritten by Gerald Scarfe ****1/2:

(David Gilmour – guitar, synthesizer, clavinet, sound effects, vocals; Nick Mason – percussion; Roger Waters – guitar, synthesizer, sound effects, vocals; Richard Wright – organ, piano, Rhodes electric piano, synthesizer, bass pedals; Michael Kamen – orchestral arrangement; Bob Ezrin – orchestral arrangement; plus many others)

By 1979 Pink Floyd was regarded as the eminent band in rock. Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here raised the bar for conceptual music. Part of this strange alchemy was significant upheaval within the group. When the next album was discussed, Roger Waters submitted demos of a rock opera, already completed. The subsequent release, The Wall, would become the last momentous Pink Floyd album.

Pink Floyd The Wall Immersion Box Set is a seven-disc reproduction and historical account of this pivotal work. A conceptual album, the narrative follows Pink, a rock star who becomes desensitized by social institutions, including family (deceased father and overprotective mother), school (bullying), the music business (just about everything) and marriage (failure). As isolation and abandonment descend upon him, a metaphorical wall of bricks is constructed. At the core of the box set is the re-mastered studio album. Themes of alienation and psychic despair are merged with textured, creative Pink Floyd musical interpretations, orchestral arrangements, sound effects and striking vocals.

The material resonates…even after 30 years. “Comfortably Numb” is among the greatest of Pink Floyd songs. It is a true collaboration, whose haunting theme and searing guitar solo (Gilmour) blend seamlessly with Waters (bass) Mason (drums) and Wright (keyboards). The anthem “Another Brick In The Wall” mixes an unlikely disco beat with a wall of vocals featuring the Islington Green School Choir and guest vocalists like Toni Tennille and Bruce Johnston (There are numerous “credited” and “uncredited” contributors). “Run Like Hell” relies on jangly guitar wizardry, and “Mother” and “Goodbye Cruel World” reveal the gloomy ruminations of Waters’ past. The stark dysfunctional tone of the music never recedes. Like Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, the there is a consistent, sequenced flow to the tracks.

In addition to the “extra” collectibles, there is a plethora of bonus music. While some box sets contain excessive perfunctory material, it is not the case here. A two-disc (#3 & #4) live performance by Pink Floyd is vibrantly innovative and balances musical context and theatrics. More impressive are the two (#5 and #6) CDs of demos by Waters and the band. The material is presented with takes in progression to facilitate the linear development of the songs. Gilmour’s demos of what would become “Comfortably Numb” include a wordless version and an early session titled “The Doctor”. There are cuts that didn’t make the album like “Teacher Teacher” and “Sexual Revolution”. “Another Brick In The Wall” is tied to march time, and “The Show Must Goes On” approximates a psychedelic Beach Boys opus. The final disc is a DVD that includes the 2000 documentary film Behind The Wall and a clip of footage (“The Happiest Days Of Our Lives”) from Earls Court in 1980.

While there is no Blu-ray or 5.1 Surround Sound (most likely, in the works), the sound quality is excellent (especially with a good set of headphones). Two album booklets boast Gerald Scarfe animation, Storm Thorgerson art design and concert photography, with superior production. Pink Floyd The Wall Immersion Box Set is compelling.

TrackList:

Disc 1 (Re-mastered studio CD): In The Flesh? The Thin Ice; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1; The Happiest Days Of Our Lives; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2; Mother, Goodbye Blue Sky, Empty Spaces; Young Lust; One Of My Turns; Don’t Leave Me Now; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3; Goodbye Cruel World

Disc 2 (Re-mastered studio CD): Hey You; Is There Anybody Out There?; Nobody Home; Vera; Bring The Boys Back Home; Comfortably Numb; The Show Must Go On; In The Flesh; Run Like Hell; Waiting For The Worms; Stop; The Trial; Outside The Wall

Disc 3 & 4: Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-81 (30 tracks)

Disc 5: The Wall – Work In Progress Part 1, 1979: demos from Roger Waters and Pink Floyd (41 tracks)

Disc 6: The Wall – Work In Progress Part 2, 1979: demos from Roger Waters and Pink Floyd (23 tracks)

Disc 7: DVD Pink Floyd film archive; promotional video; Gerald Scarfe interview

—Robbie Gerson




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