A Fleeting Glimpse of… Pink Floyd’s The Wall Demos
Old Pink almost caught a fleeting glimpse of something quite terrible in the song Comfortably Numb from The Wall album. But Pink Floyd fans can now definitely catch a fleeting glimpse of something much better from the Immersion Boxset of The Wall album!
Two of the seven discs are dedicated to The Wall being under construction and listeners can witness the album evolving from Roger Waters’ original demos (Nick Mason once described them as “the most appalling demos”), through to the band studio production demos and finally to the final studio recordings of the album.
Are you ready for a fleeting glimpse of the construction of The Wall?
The first 4 discs of The Wall Immersion boxset are two for the remastered album and another two for the live Pink Floyd concert recording of the original Wall. This was previously released as Is There Anybody Out There from 1980s Pink Floyd Wall performances. Disc 7 is a DVD video disc with documentary and concert footage on. However, we are focusing on the Wall demo recordings here today and their evolution.
The Wall Demos Development
|The Wall Original Demo Tape 1978|
Discs 5 and 6 from the Immersion Edition of The Wall will allow you to catch a fleeting glimpse of Pink Floyd developing these “appalling demos” that Roger Waters had started writing in September 1977 and recording at home. Nick Mason would comment on the sound quality of the recordings saying, “He’d always overload his recorders, so the songs needed developing. But what an idea!”
By January 1978, Roger Waters had organised the songs he was writing into a conceptual form. Some months later in July 1978, Roger presented the demo in the form of a 90 minute cassette tape of the album (then titled “Bricks In The Wall”) to each member of the band along with “The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking”. The latter was rejected by the rest of the band and later became a Roger Waters solo album, although Pink Floyd manager at the time Steve O’Rourke preferred The Pros and Cons. The band correctly chose The Wall that day in July at Britannia Row studios where they, amongst other things, held their band meetings!
Under the External Influence
Some time later, Roger’s then wife Carolyne suggested Roger try out Canadian Bob Ezrin as a producer on the album. Roger and the band had decided that getting external help in to the recording and producing process would be a good way to enhance the demos that had been recorded. Indeed, when you listen to the musical style and arrangement of some of the songs from Roger’s original demo, you will see just what external influence would look like in the form of “disco beats” on Another Brick.. that the band had not used before! Roger would also choose a 25 year old James Guthrie as a co-producer and recording engineer and he came recommended by non other than Alan Parsons himself. This came as a surprise to Bob Ezrin and also surprised Guthrie too!
In the coming year, the band would be in various studios recording production demos with the team they had assembled and making rough mixes of the album and slotting the pieces together in the conceptual framework of the album until, in October 1979, the final overdubs and mixing was done at Producers Workshop in Los Angeles, California. It would then be mastered on 6th November 1979 at Mastering Lab ready for mass production.
Contents of The Wall Demo Recordings
- Roger Waters original demos feature on disc 5 in its entirety without spreading onto other discs. No problem here if you just want to hear Roger’s recordings of his album although this is sound clips from Roger’s oroginal demos and not the full demos. That is not a bad thing as most of them would be unlistenable so the listeners experience is enhanced by not having to listen to it all! Some of them are very excellent though and extend to a couple of minutes. This is Programme 1 on Disc 5. So far, so good.
- Roger Waters Original Demo And Band Demos are, I presume, studio recorded demo version of the album that Roger did with some songs augmented with help from the band as the album evolved. This is where the problems begin if you just get the Experience edition as the first half of the recordings are Programme 2 on Disc 5 but the second half is Programme 1 on Disc 6 which is confusing as the programme numbers are different! At least confusing to me, but I am quite dim. Its OK having an album of two halves split over two discs but shouldn’t the programme number match for the second half on the second disc? I should be silent.
- Band Demos are another suite of full band studio produced demo recordings of songs that they were evolving together musically – and lyrically on Roger’s part as the original lyrics were rather different to the final studio version of the album that the band released. These band demos are Programme 3 on disc 5 and the second half of them are Programme 3 on disc 6. This is not so bad as the programme number matches up unlike with the preceding suite of demos!
- Bonus band Demos are the rest of the band demos I presume which are illogically Programme 2 on disc 6 in the Immersion boxset. If this was renamed Programme 1 on disc 6, there would have been much less confusion as Programme 1 on each disc would then have no corresponding second half to match to, whereas the other bits have…. on I give up! There are three songs including Outside The Wall, Its Never Too Late and The Doctor (Comfortably Numb). I am rather looking forward to hearing these.
- David Gilmour Original Demos consist of the two songs where David Gilmour wrote the music and melodies to which Roger later added the lyrics. This is Programme 4 on disc 6 which I can live with! These are two of the most enduring Pink Floyd songs from their back catalogue with Comfortably Numb only being second to Echoes according to fans (ref).
So… there you have it. A fleeting glimpse at the various suites of demo recordings included in the forthcoming Pink Floyd The Wall Immersion Boxset. If you want to read a very detailed and accurate account of the story of The Wall, then check out Comfortably Numb A History of The Wall by Vernon Fitch and Richard Mahon.
Treat Yourself to Pink Floyd’s The Wall Album Boxset!
Given that there is a limited amount of stock, the sooner you get your order, the sooner you get the physical stock that retailers have in their warehouse allocated to your order ready for dispatch in February 2012. I work in retail! So it makes good sense to pre-order your album now to avoid disappointment!
The Wall Demos Track Listing
Here be the track listing for The Wall Discs 5 and 6.
|DISC 5 (CD)
The Wall Work In Progress Part 1, 1979
|DISC 6 (CD)
The Wall Work In Progress Part 2, 1979
Other Contents of Pink Floyd The Wall Immersion Boxset
There are a whopping 7 discs in total and here is the seventh as well as the box goodies!
- Disc 7 – This is a DVD with some excellent video on. It features Another Brick In The Wall pt2 promotional video – restored in 2011, Behind The Wall documentary, Gerald Scarfe Interview, and a short filmed extract of Earls Court concert featuring animation.
Memorabilia – Also in the box in the form of memorabilia is all of the blow goodies which will give you a more immersive experience of The Wall!
- 44 page 27cm x 27cm booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson
- Exclusive photo book
- 27cm x 27cm Exclusive Storm Thorgerson Art Print
- 5 x Collectors’ Cards featuring art and comments by Storm Thorgerson
- Replica of The Wall Tour Ticket
- Replica of The Wall Backstage Pass
- Prints/Cards of Mark Fisher’s stage drawings
- 3 x white marbles with design of bricks
- 9 x Coasters (unique to this box) featuring early Storm Thorgerson design sketches
- Credits booklet
References: Record Collector March 2000, Comfortably Numb A History of The Wall by Vernon Fitch and Richard Mahon!