It’s the worst kind of indulgent, fawning, horrid yawn-fest plodding prog-rock as (reluctant) stadium fare. It’s a smart conceptual album – if you’re a dummy. It’s borderline nonsensical, spreading strange tones of racism, homophobia and smash-the-state politics under some strange guise of the war-affected when actually no one ever simply told Roger Waters to shut the fuck up. At least not until The Wall was released.
Oh but I loved it once. More than once, even. In Hawke’s Bay it was practically issued out by the city council to teenagers, along with army-surplus school-bags and a felt pen. As if, in some irony according to one the album’s themes, an authority figure of dubious credentials was about to stand over you and force you to scrawl the words ‘Pink’ and ‘Floyd’ and ‘The’ and ‘Wall’ on the bag. And off you went with your double-album or long-play cassette.
The iconic album cover, the film – absurd, the cartoon imagery – a couple of flowers fucking, turning into rats and eating each other. Oh fuck off!
It wasn’t just totally acceptable to listen to The Wall growing up in Hawke’s Bay aged 15. It was required. You live in that town with its so-pleased-with-itself aura, butter wouldn’t melt and there’s gold in them there hills. The best thing you can do is listen to Pink Floyd. It’s either that or sniff some glue. Most of Hastings has done both, probably a great deal of it continues to do one, or other, or both.
Yes, the guitar solo on Comfortably Numb is good. Yes, Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) was so fucking cool the first 1500 times you heard it. Yes, the best songs on the album are actually Goodbye Blue Sky, Vera, The Thin Ice and Empty Spaces. And yes, it’s all some pomped-up/pumped-up dress rehearsal for The Final Cut. A better album by quite some way, if not only for its relative brevity. And still an interminable bore and an absurd thing to cling to.
Pink Floyd’s best work is the set of “lost” albums between its debut and The Dark Side of the Moon. And yes, that’s revisionism. And it’s another topic for another day. But it’s also the truth. As I see it.
As I hear it, and I haven’t done such a thing in a long time – and never will again, I’m so sure of that, The Wall is the worst album the band ever did. Partly because it’s a glorified solo album by a megalomaniac who just couldn’t cope with his super-tough millionaire rock-star lifestyle. Daddy fucked off early, mummy was never told to shut the hell up. Roger Waters spent half his life and them some pouring out some facsimile of his soul to whoever would listen. Problem is: heaps of people did. And far too many still do.
The band’s nadir is their classic album. This classic album is the band’s dark moment. Their jump-the-shark absurdity that couldn’t have been better assembled by a team comprised of Christopher Guest, Chris Morris and Banksy.
Wouldn’t it be good to think it was all some giant prank? Instead of a cry-wank as thin-concept thick double-album for dullards.
Ninety minutes of some rich tosser’s therapy barked out of the speakers at you. When you bought this album you really paid for it. Big time.
The Wall is forever trapped inside a red Sony walkman, hanging on a belt around some stonewash jeans. Unlaced basketball boots beneath it, peddling along as a flat-deck truck drives by with farm-hands hanging off the back yelling ‘homo’ at whoever they can, high-fiving in self-congratulation as the beautiful homes of Havelock North blur into the background and the ugliness stops after a slow-motion pan, pausing briefly to spit in its own face.
Fuck you Roger Waters. Fuck you Hawke’s Bay in the early 1990s. Fuck you The Wall.