Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hitting “The Wall”

I’ve been listening to the new remastered release of The Wall this week. Pink Floyd’s monumental 1980 CD has been on my mind lately not just because of this new issue, but also because I just bought tickets to take my teenage daughter to see Roger Water’s updated rendition of the spectacular personal dystopia at Fenway Park this summer.

I’ve resisted previous opportunities to see Waters’ brick-by-brick revisitation mainly because the very first concert I ever saw was Pink Floyd’s last U.S. performance of the masterpiece in Long Island in 1980. The real deal: hard to top that! Hence, I’ve been reticent to risk tainting that memory with a lesser construction. But friends with discerning musical tastes who have seen Waters’ performance have assured me that I would not be disappointed. And it was hard to resist the idea of the old ballpark’s famed Green Monster mutating into Waters’ psycho-barricade.

But back to the reissue of the original CD. Yes, the original two record set does sounds a little bit crisper in the is new version, but I bought it for the “work-in-progress” band demos for the album included on the third disc, not for the marginal modernization of the originally released material.

The band sketches of these songs we all know and admire (if not love – that sentiment doesn’t seem quite fitting for most of these twisted tunes, somehow) are interesting in that they are evidence of how much the band and producer Bob Ezrin worked on the material in the studio. That is to say, the raw songs weren’t much akin to the polished gem they became.

Waters’ stuff is all idea and little execution. Gilmour’s parts are predictably much more polished musically, but not fully developed—in fact, the demo version of “Comfortably Numb” is surprisingly weak. Wrights keyboard parts are interesting, when they’re noticeable.

Perhaps unlike many listeners, I usually enjoy demos of well-know masterful works for what they reveal about the raw essence of the songs, the initial inspired impulse that, eventually refined, yields something for the ages. Somehow this batch of demos doesn’t quite leave me with that feeling or appreciation. Again, it does drive home how far the songs came, but mostly it leaves me wondering how the band got from this ... to that!

So, ultimately, I guess these demos are revealing, just not in the ways that I expected or which will lead me to repeated listening.

No comments:

Post a Comment