Pink Floyd – The Wall: Immersion Edition

January 01, 1970

(EMI)

 

www.emimusic.com

 

My introduction to Pink Floyd came in the form of
an innocent stumbling upon Alan Parker’s 1982 cult film adaptation of their 1979 conceptual
masterpiece The Wall on HBO when I was a little kid.

 

It was the animation that reeled me in–those
tripped out caricatures drafted by acclaimed British illustrator Gerald Scarfe
that just blew my young brain far beyond anything I was regularly attuned to
during my Saturday morning cartoon marathons. The music, in and of itself, was
merely auditory background stimuli at the time, secondary to the visuals that
kept me glued to that wood top
Sylvania color set in the family living room whenever it was aired.

 

It wasn’t until middle school did the actual band
behind the strange and alluring movie resonated with me as a music fan. And
then it was no earlier than junior year in high school did I actually cognate
the lyrical implications of frontman/bassist Roger Waters’ obsessive story arc
that propelled the double LP, which stemmed from the band’s discomfort with the
overexposure of their massive popularity during the 70s enrapt in a semi-autobiographical account of Waters’
youth that climaxed into a sonic dissertation of the similarities between rock
stardom and Nazism.

 

Yet beyond the story line that interlocks the 31
songs into a conceptual whole, The
Wall
stands as an excellent collection of singular tracks as well: “In
The Flesh”. “Goodbye Blue Sky”. “Hey You”. “Young
Lust”. “Run Like Hell”. “Comfortably Numb”.
“Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2”. These are all tunes that have
been ingrained in our psyches if you have lived with The Wall growing
up, or classic rock radio for that matter. And if The Wall was indeed
your launch pad in your youth as it was for me, the significance of the band’s
magnum opus has either waxed, waned or remained the same depending upon where
you are in your commitment to the exploration of the Pink Floyd universe. For
some, The Wall was their last contact with Floyd, as age, responsibility
and redirections in taste propelled many to leave the band behind as a memory
of their wild college days. For others, one may be currently in the throes of
looking up Pink Anderson and Floyd Council on Wikipedia, searching soundcloud
for Ron Geesin and hunting down a vinyl copy of Richard Wright’s pre-Wall solo
debut from 1978, Wet Dream in his or her never ending quest to quench
their thirst for the group.

 

Regardless of where you stand with the band or
its creation, nobody can argue The Wall’s importance in the Horcrux of
rock history. Certainly Waters’ reprisal of Floyd’s original 1980 stage show in
support of the album, about to make its second victory lap across the USA in
the extremely near future, is a testament to that sentiment. So the pressure
was on for EMI to close out their successful Why Pink Floyd? With a Wall for the ages. Especially this Immersion Edition we are discussing here, the
third in a series that also included Dark Side of the Moon and Wish
You Were Here
, the very two records whose rabid popularity and overexposure
inspired the dystopian sentiments of the album’s conceptual
arc.

 

Needless to say, The Wall’s Immersion
Edition is a visual thing of beauty, especially given the significance of
Scarfe’s iconic illustration work, on full display in this box with a gorgeous
27 cm x 27 cm exclusive art print. It’s loaded to the gills with reproduced
ephemera from the era, including facsimiles of a Wall Tour concert
ticket and backstage pass, cool collector cards and an envelope of prints of
artist Mark Fisher’s stage drawings that are just a wonder to the eyes. And, as
with the other Immersion sets, you get a Wall-themed scarf, coaster set
and satchel of marbles, too. The DVD portion, meanwhile, features the likes of
concert footage from the tour (albeit briefly), the promotional video for
“Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” and a new documentary on the
album in addition to an exclusive interview with Gerald Scarfe that should be
required viewing for art school students.

 

Where this otherwise excellent set falters,
unfortunately, is on the audio front. Sure, the original LP and its 2000 live
companion, Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-81, have never
sounded better, beautifully remastered by longtime Floyd associate James Guthrie
with the utmost ear for every detail and nuance from the original tapes. And
the band demos scattered across the fifth and sixth discs of the box are an
absolute revelation, particularly the alternate early takes of
“Comfortably Numb” (under its original working title “The
Doctor”), “Empty
Spaces” and “Vera Lynn,” as well as versions of “Waiting For The
Worms” and “The Show Must Go On” that show how they started out
as a total Beach Boys trips, an unlikely influence for Pink Floyd but when you
hear it in this context it makes perfect sense. Additionally, you also get a
handful of tracks that never made the finished product, such as “Teacher,
Teacher,” which would later turn up as “The Hero’s Return” on Floyd’s
underappreciated 1983 swan song with Roger Waters The Final Cut, and
“Sexual Revolution,” a song that would turn up on Waters’ The Pros and
Cons of Hitchhiking
, the album Pink Floyd passed up to make The Wall when
the bassist presented both sets of demos to his mates. There is also a pair of
solo demos from guitarist David Gilmour for “Comfortably Numb” and
“Run like Hell.”

 

The undeniable black eye on this Immersion
Edition, however, is the way by which they handled the inclusion of Roger
Waters’ solo demos, long available on the black market under the title Under
Construction
. If any hardcore Pink Floyd fan is still listening to The
Wall
at this stage in his or her life, it is most likely these raw versions
of the song cycle that strips all the studio grandiosity to the bone to present
the true soul of the record itself. On this box set, the majority of this
coveted cache of rarities is whittled down to a series of poorly edited
snippets that barely last a minute or even a few seconds in some instances. It
is a shame that the producers of this collection couldn’t have just added an
eighth disc to the set so these demos could have been presented in full,
especially considering they are already just a Google search away from most
people’s fingertips.

 

Yet, warts and all, the Immersion Edition of Pink
Floyd’s The Wall is a most interesting journey through the evolution of
this groundbreaking excerpt of
modern pop lore, even if it is a few bricks short of the complete structure.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Teacher,
Teacher” (Band Demo), “Sexual Revolution” (Band Demo),
“Vera” (Roger Waters Original Demo), “The Show Must Go On”
(Band Demo), “Comfortably Numb” (David Gilmour Original Demo) RON
HART

 

 

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