The Wall

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The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. Released as a double album on 30 November 1979, it was subsequently performed live with elaborate theatrical effects, and adapted into a feature film, Pink Floyd The Wall.

As with the band's previous three studio albums The Wall is a concept album, and deals largely with themes of abandonment and personal isolation. It was first conceived during the band's 1977 In the Flesh Tour, where bassist and lyricist Roger Waters' frustration with the spectators' perceived boorishness became so acute that he imagined building a wall between the performers and audience. The album is a rock opera that centres on Pink, a character based on Waters. Pink's life experiences begin with the loss of his father during the Second World War, and continue with ridicule and abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother and finally, the breakdown of his marriage, all of which contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall.

The Wall features a notably harsher and more theatrical style than Pink Floyd's previous releases. Keyboardist Richard Wright left the band during the album's production but remained as a salaried musician, performing with Pink Floyd during The Wall Tour. Commercially successful upon its release, the album was one of the best selling of 1980, and it is estimated that as of 2010, it has sold over 23 million RIAA certified units in the United States.

Contents

Background

Pink Floyd's In the Flesh Tour was their first playing in large stadiums, and in July 1977—on the final date at the Montreal Olympic Stadium—a small group of noisy and excited fans near the stage irritated Waters to such an extent that he spat at one of them.[5] He was not the only band member who felt disaffected at the show, as guitarist David Gilmour refused to perform the band's usual twelve-bar blues encore.[6] Later that night, while returning from hospital to treat an injury sustained to his foot while playfighting backstage with manager Steve O'Rourke, Waters spoke with music producer Bob Ezrin, and a friend of Ezrin's, a psychiatrist sharing their car, about the feelings of alienation he was experiencing on the tour. He articulated his desire to isolate himself by constructing a wall across the stage between the performers and the audience.[7] He later said, "I loathed playing in stadiums ... I kept saying to people on that tour, 'I'm not really enjoying this ... there is something very wrong with this.'"[8] While Gilmour and Wright were in France recording solo albums, and Nick Mason was busy producing Steve Hillage's Green, Waters began to write new material.[9] The spitting incident became the starting point for a new concept, which explored the protagonist's self-imposed isolation after years of traumatic interactions with authority figures and the loss of his father as a young child. To execute The Wall concept was to attempt to analyze the performer's psychological separation from the audience, using a physical structure as a metaphoric and theatrical device.[6]

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