Pink Floyd - "THE WALL" Immersion

various CD editions of The Wall.

various Wall bootlegs

various Wall tribute CDs

   In late 1979 Pink Floyd released the double concept album masterpiece The Wall.  A deeply personal and ambitious project from band leader/bassist Roger Waters, The Wall dealt with fear, isolation and paranoia mixed with an uncompromising anti-war message.

Public response was immediate, the album was number one in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Holland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and West Germany. The disco-rock hybrid single "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" was a number one radio hit in the U.S. and Canada.

  The historic 1980-81 concert tour for the album was a massive production that involved giant inflatables, screen projections and a plane that dive bombed over the audience to crash into the wall itself. During the performance an actual enormous wall was constructed brick by brick that by intermission had completely blocked the audience's view of the band. Another memorable moment was that of David Gilmour suddenly appearing on top of the nearly 40 foot tall structure to play the searing guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb".

  Because the show was such a large scale affair the only way it could continue without losing money (which it did anyway) was to limit the tour to multiple nights in just four cities around the world. Only audiences in Los Angeles (7 shows), Uniondale (5 shows), London (6), Dortmund (8) and back to London for a final five concerts would experience the monumental Wall live in person. 

   Next up was the feature film Pink Floyd The Wall directed by Allan Parker with much input from Waters and art designer Gerald Scarfe who created the striking characters seen on the album sleeve and concert tour.

   After that, The Wall was never far from view. In 1990 Waters staged an elaborate (even by Wall standards) benefit concert featuring an all star cast of Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Scorpions, Bryan Adams and more in Berlin as that wall had just come down.

And in 2000 the band released Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 an excellent set compiled from various London shows on the original tour.  There have also been at least half a dozen tribute albums to THE WALL and in September 2010 Waters began a hugely succesful worldwide tour performing the album in its entirety live with updated vibrant projections and a stunning new sound system. 

   Now we have The Wall Immersion a hefty 7 disc set that is close to the last word on this important piece of work. Included are a newly remastered version of the original album supervised by one of the original album's producers James Guthrie and the 2000 live set Is There Anybody Out There? also given a fresh remaster showcasing the full power of the band live.

   On discs five and six though things start to get really interesting. Misleadingly titled "Works In Progress 1979" these CDs present a sampling of the numerous original band demos recorded for the album. Best of all are over 20 songs from Roger's initial solo demo tape when the project was still under it's first title Bricks In The Wall . These unembellished early demos have never surfaced before and do not circulate amongst collectors. Most of the songs (excerpts actually) feature spare guitar and basic synthesizers behind a couple of vocal tracks. At this stage the song "What Shall We Do Now?" is titled "Backs To The Wall" and there are lyrical differences in a few of the tunes. The majority of the rest of the tracks are band demos from Oct to Dec 1978 and give fascinating insight into how the band (with co-producer Bob Ezrin) molded Waters' raw material into shape. "Another Brick Part 1" has completely different lyrics and in fact at this stage was actually titled "Reminiscing" although it's not called that here. The track "Teacher Teacher" never made it to the final album despite having a great guitar hook. This song also appeared on Waters' original solo demo tape however that version is unfortunately not included here. "Sexual Revolution" is another song that never made it past the demo stage while in "Young Lust" only the choruses are familiar. Similarly the early version of "Comfortably Young", here titled "The Doctor" retains only Gilmour's sung verses and an early version of his famous guitar solo.  

    The last two songs on the Works In Progress discs are extremely rare embryonic Dave Gilmour demos of what would eventually become "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell". Although just rudimentary instrumental guitar tracks, these two songs really show Gilmour's musical input as they are already very close to what appeared on the final album. Like Roger's demos, these tracks have not previously circulated amongst collectors making their inclusion here extremely valuable.

   The seventh disc in the set is a DVD featuring one song "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives" filmed in London during the 1980 tour and the music video for the single "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2". The real highlight of the DVD though is the 52 minute  documentary Behind The Wall which was made in 2000 to promote  the Is There Anybody Out There? live album.  In between interviews with the band members are incredible bits of footage of the group performing live on the 1980-81 tour.

  The box is rounded out with a couple of beautiful photo books, postcards plus reproductions of a backstage pass and a ticket to one of the 1981 concerts in Germany. Other extras like coasters, marbles and a scarf are unnecessarily included.

 

  So what's missing?  Well the album in 5.1 surround sound for sure and there's no good reason why there isn't a full live show on DVD.

And to be really complete radio edits of the singles could have been included but for the remastered CDs and invaluable discs of previously unreleased demos make this Immersion boxed set essential for  fans of that formidable album The Wall .

Robert Lawson 2012.