Stayin’ Alive In The Wall

One of my earliest musical memories is of Pink Floyd taking the Christmas number one spot in 1979. Two of the albums I played most in my childhood were The Wall (which I got into when I was ten) and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which was a permanent fixture in our house. I certainly remember spinning around to You Should Be Dancing when I was five or so. Continue reading

Line-ups that make (or break) the band

New on Collapse Board

When the two old enemies embraced this week in London, many fans were wondering if the decades-long feud was finally and fully laid to rest. Would there be a Pink Floyd reunion? A new tour? A new album? Realistically, isn’t it much too late for that now? More to the point – as many were quick to remark – the band could hardly reunite since Richard Wright had died in 2008.

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30 day song challenge: day 01 – your favorite song

I can’t say that I’ll be doing this every day because it would get pretty boring for a blog series, but it might be fun as an occasional feature. The first is both the easiest and hardest song to pick:

day 01 – your favorite song

So many songs! Which is my favourite? I suppose I’d have to pick the first song which immediately springs to mind when someone asks me that question. The song is Comfortably Numb from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It’s been my favourite song since I was about 10 years old.

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Last Impressions: Pink Floyd – The Wall

I’m going to keep this fairly brief because it’s sold 23 million copies in the US alone, so you probably already know what it sounds like. Like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it’s such a landmark in the sonic landscape that I barely notice it any more. I dimly recall Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2 being number one when I was three, and really got into the album when I was 10, but I realised it’s been about a decade since I listened to it and being prompted to by another epic concept album (Foetus’s HIDE), I thought it was time to dust it off.

My first thought was that it has aged really badly, and the first half of the album is actually pretty ordinary rock music that sounds very of its era. I thought there must have been something about it that I loved so much, and as the album progressed it struck me that the worse character Pink’s mental state is, the better the music sounds – not least because it becomes musically more ambitious, complex and bombastic.

This full clip here marks the turning point where it really starts to get good:

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Albums that actually changed my life

Unknown David Bowie compilation
First heard: Age 3

I must have been about three. Lying in the back of the car, half-asleep, listening to Ziggy-era Bowie through the back speakers. I particularly remember Aladdin Sane and Starman, and I think those are the ones that have shaped me musically the most. The other bands I was exposed to at the time were Queen and Abba, so ever since, the music I have loved has been a combination of clever minor-key concept album noodling, punchy rock hooks and hard, funky disco. Not much of a surprise I became a NIN fan, then.

Pink Floyd – The Wall
First heard: Age 10

I liked a lot of cool music as a kid, along with some truly terrible music, but until the age of 10, everything I loved was informed by what my parents or sister were listening to. Then my sister played me Pink Floyd’s Wall album, and something just clicked. I dimly recalled Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, which had been the Christmas number one when I was three. Hearing the album in its entirety, though, shed a very different light on the track. It had mystified me – still does – why the song had been so popular, with its puerile shouty “we don’t need no education” refrain, but put into the context of preceding track The Happiest Days of Our Lives (the song doesn’t really work without it), it suddenly revealed a new concept to me: angst.

It seems funny to me now to think of myself as a child, debating the meanings of Syd Barrett songs with my rebellious best friend, Jym. We were absolutely obsessed – making our own Floyd-themed t-shirts, picking up sheet music to learn it on the piano, and just lying out in the sun in his back garden listening to Relics and Meddle. Jym would take mushrooms and smoke pot, but I could enter an altered state just meditating on the music. He got expelled from school a year or two later. I never saw him again.

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