Sound — 8
The Wall is decent at best musically. Definitely not one of the best Pink Floyd albums, although hyped beyond belief. The Floyd is easily the best "album band" ever, producing such complete works, but when you analyze The Wall it just isn't up to par with the other Floyd masterpieces. All kinds of interesting effects as a story of an overambitious rock star (Syd Barrett...loosely) is caught up in the fame, fortune, and problems, of the high life. Roger Waters' last decent album before leaving the band. His bass is impeccable as usual, and David Gilmour's better-than-outstanding guitar work, especially solos in two famous numbers, "Comfortably Numb" and "Hey You" is definitely a highlight. Rick Wright's swirling keyboards and Nick Mason's distinctive driving drums complete the musical aspects of The Wall. Yet if you are looking for interesting instrumental music from Pink Floyd, you missed the mark. "The Piper At the Gates of Dawn" was if not better, at least more interesting in terms of music.
Lyrics — 6
Symbolism is overused beyond reason in The Wall...it seems as if everything means something else, just we are not sure what. As Dark Side of the Moon was an ode to madness, and Wish You Were Here was a tribute to the fallen Syd Barrett, the wall is an ode to depression, angst, and anger as a band already broken up was trying to complete their last great work. There is almost a feel in the lyrics as if you know the band is coming apart. Lyrically, there isn't an outstanding song standing out in my head. Roger Waters is at his most depressed writing these lyrics. Such numbers as "Run Like Hell," "Comfortably Numb," "Another Brick in the Wall Part II," and "Hey You," were all successful commercial cuts off of the album, but again for lyrics you need to keep searching. A Saucerful of Secrets, Wish You Were, and Animals are better lyrically. The one thing on this album Pink Floyd does very well is integrate music to lyrics, as they are known for. Waters supplies the vocals for most of the album because there was so much conflict amongst himself and Dave Gilmour they had to record their parts seperately. Rick Wright was ousted from the band at Roger's request when he gave the "it's him or me" demand. He was re-hired shortly before the beginning of the album's recording as a session musician, being paid a salary per session. This lack of unity adds to the overall incomplete-ness of The Wall.
Overall Impression — 6
The Wall is, in a breath, The Seventies merging with the 80's, with heavy bass, floating guitar solos, and whimsical lyrics sung in an even more melancholy way. I've said it twice I believe, "Hey You," "Another Brick in the Wall Part II," and "Comfortably Numb" are song highlights. Hey You is memorable in many ways, as it slowly builds from a single slow guitar line to an all out rock masterpiece in a sort of Stairway to Heaven-esque way...except where Robert Plant sings of hope and optimism, Roger Waters simply concluded quite compellingly, "Together we stand, divided we fall." Although quite repetetive, "Another Brick..." is a mellow, driving, straight forward, almost understated track announcing to people all over the world, "We don't need no education! We don't need no thought control!" Waters' intolerance of the authoritarian schools/government is illustrated with vibrance here and is almost a motif for his solo work in years to come. My personal favorite on the record/tape/album is "Comfortably Numb," with better than average vocals, and one of the, if not the best guitar solo in Rock history coming at the end. If this album were taken from my possession in any form or fashion I'd get someone to burn it for me, definitely not go out and buy it. With the money I'd buy Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd, or at least pour some money into it (Echoes is expensive!). A favorite among fans of 70's and early 80's rock, an extremely famous composition, a statement of a tortured rock band, and a lackluster and incomplete effort when you break it down, The Wall is a must-have for a collector, but lacks the originality of previous Pink Floyd albums. Strongly recommend (obviously) Dark Side of the Moon, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Ummagumma, Wish You Were Here...and if you like the psychedelic Pink Floyd stuff like me, look into The Madcap Laughs and Barrett by Syd Barrett...interesting glance into the psyche of a fallen rock star, victimized and severely handicapped by schizophrenia and excessive drug use. Furthermore "Apples and Oranges" "See Emily Play" "Arnold Layne" "Lucy Leave" are great early singles, as well as "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" were last hurrahs for Syd Barrett's pink floyd... If you like the texture of The Wall, check out Wish You Were Here, Animals, and Dark Side of the Moon as they don't lack the clarity The Wall does, while keeping the "theme album" idea.