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Did you know that Pink Floyd needed 49 trucks to move all the things necessary for the Division Bell tour? Did you know that there are just two songs with Nick Mason credited as the only author? They are The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party and Speak To Me, which was only credited to him because of the royalties. Did you know that The Wall Live In Berlin is noted in the Guiness Book Of Records as the largest concert ever?
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Pink Floyd Biography

Behind the wall (1977 - 1983)

Mason s fo»ákem a Waters před koncertem v Montrealu 1977In 1977 Pink Floyd released Animals. The artwork shows the Battersea power station with its huge chimneys, one of the most massive industrial buildings in London. A small pig can be seen flying between the chimneys...

Pigs, dogs and sheep became the main characters of the concept album. It is clear from the very first listening to the album, what inspired Waters when he was writing the songs. It was, although Waters himself keeps denying that, the Orwellian Animal Farm. Waters (and, earlier, Orwell) divided people into three groups, the pigs, who live off of other people's work and keep getting bigger while giving orders, the dogs, who are no less intelligent than the pigs, but follow the orders blindly and the unthinking masses – the sheep. The lyrics are just as raw as this simple explanation. After Waters estimated the material to be a little too rough and bitter, he decided to add another song, divided into two parts, as a remembrance, that there could be a better world than this animal farm. It was kind of a thank you to his wife Carolyne at the same time.

The original core of the album were two songs Pink Floyd had played earlier, the first one being the quite scarily named Raving and Grooling I Felt On His Neck With A Scream (which is also the first line of the song), the other being You Gotta Be Crazy.

From 1978 on, Waters was the leader of the band and no one could doubt his position, he was in charge of everything. His later creative attempts were affected by the changing morale of the audience. The people, who had once devoutly listened to the opening of each song, now shouted "Money! Money!" and didn't want to hear anything else. The band were hurt by their own popularity. From small concert venues they got to stadiums, from hundreds of sold tickets they got to tens of thousands in a single evening, which just had to affect them. Nearly all of the bands that were this successful were through this kind of crisis, but only Pink Floyd could take advantage of it artistically. It was not easy.

The initial impulse was the last concert of the Animals tour in Montreal. Waters was looking forward to the end of the gig and so the end of the entire tour. In the end, Waters lost his nerve and spat on an impudent fan's face after he had lured him on right under the stage. He regret that immediately but he could not take it back. Later he would become so disgusted by his own behaviour and the behaviour of the fans that he started to think it would be better if there was a wall between the audience and the band...

After the initial period of disillusion caused by the loss of the former fans, who were used to absorbing every tone so sensitively delivered to them by Pink Floyd in silence, Waters started to work on a new concept album. And it was not just one project. Waters felt pressure from many sides, not just from the change of the atmosphere at gigs, but also from the situation at home, his personal problems. Two projects were created – The Pros and Cons Of Hitch Hiking and The Wall. Waters let the rest of the band consider the demos and they chose to do The Wall, because TPACOHH seemed to be too personal to them.

Right from the beginning the project consisted of three parts: the album (which was so long it could have been 3 LPs, and in the end, after many songs got scored out, it was still four LP sides,) the theatrical performance and the film. The story is quite complicated and is more or less based on the life of Waters. It tells the story of a man called Pink Floyd, who was raised by his strict mother, because his father had been killed in WWII, was affected by despotic teachers and later by his unfaithful wife. We see Pink, originally a timorous boy, becoming a horrifying dictator (some of the references to Nazism have been subject to criticism, for example, the crossed hammers are similar to swastikas and people can be seen giving the Nazi salute during Pink's speech/concert).

During the shooting of the film, Waters (who originally wanted to star as the lead, but had to admit after the pathetic screen tests, that acting was not his cup of tea) would often argue with the film director, Alan Parker. The reason was they both had their own view and conception and neither was willing to compromise. In the end, however, they had to and the film is a mixture of both Parker's and Water's ideas. There is hardly any dialogue, apart from the song lyrics. The film tells the story of Pink in a slightly confusing way, changing the chronology of the narration several times a song. It is necessary to know the lyrics well and to watch the film repeatedly for the viewer to understand it thoroughly.

The highlight of the film is Gerald Scarfe's brilliant cartoons. The animator, cartoonist and drawer, whose imagination knows no boundaries, gave Waters' insane, paranoid ideas and visions their graphic shape. He also designed the album's artwork, which was a task traditionally performed by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis.

Certain imperfections caused the film not to be as successful as the album, which, as usual, topped the charts and held atop for quite a time. For example, the film lacks some of the key songs of the album – Hey You and The Show Must Go On.

Because of the time limits of then music and film media, neither of the versions contains all of the songs written for the Wall project. These are the major differences:

  • When the Tigers Broke Free – in the film only
  • What Shall We Do Now – not on the album (but it is a part of the 2000 Is There Anybody Out There – The Wall Live)
  • The Show Must Go On – not in the film
  • Hey You – not in the film
  • Last Few Bricks – part of Is There Anybody Out There – The Wall Live only.

Some of the songs have part of their lyrics changed or omitted and the excellent guitar solo at the end of Comfortably Numb has been significantly shortened for the film version.

The live, theatrical performance at gigs was perhaps the most spectacular one. Waters decided to build a wall between the band and the audience during the first half of the show, to let the band play and not be seen for the entire latter half, and to tear the wall down in the end while the crowd chants "Tear down the wall!" He hired dozens of roadies to build the 8 metre high and 40 metres wide wall of cardboard bricks during the show. The wall was later used to screen Scarfe's cartoons, because the usual Pink Floyd mean of communication with the audience, the famous circular screen, got hidden behind it for the latter half of the concert. The fans could now and then see the musicians even during the second half, because at certain moments they showed up in front of the wall (Waters' hotel room) or at the top of it (Gilmour's Comfortably Numb guitar solo).

Waters confused the fans in a kind of a cruel joke, when he hired an actual In The Flesh "surrogate band", to play the opening song of the show wearing plastic masks. The musicians announced to be Pink Floyd were in fact Andy Brown on the bass guitar, Snowy White (1980 gigs lead guitarist), Andy Roberts (1981 gigs guitarist), Willie Wilson on the drums and Peter Wood on the keyboards. The fans did not recognize that, but the more surprised they were to see the actual Pink Floyd coming to the stage to play the next song...

As early as during the recording of the album, serious problems arose. Waters, who was then the leader of the band, let his ego affect the final shape of the show, the album and the film so much, that it was very hard for anyone else than Gilmour, whom Waters still respected as a great guitarist, to take part in the project. Rick Wright soon gave in, after he had been told by Waters everything he did was wrong and useless. He started to only do what he had to do and he did not care anymore, which made Waters even angrier. In the end, Waters told Rick he could either leave the band himself after the project is finished, or Waters cancels the whole thing, which would be at least a great financial loss to the band, after they had spent lots of money on it. Waters even argued that Rick had always smoked his cigarettes and never bought any himself.

Wright did not take part in the making of the album artistically. In the case of the film, he didn't participate at all and at the shows he was credited as a "hired keyboard player" which only made things worse between him and Roger. Waters is said to have been trying to convince Gilmour to "get rid of Mason as well," after Rick left, but reportedly, Gilmour told him that if Mason leaves, he himself leaves too. In the end, Waters calmed down a bit, but the overall mood in the band was far from ideal.


English version by:
Vít Beneąovský, Jan "Johnny" Petrus

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