Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Top 25 Albums #18

It was way back in April when I last blogged about one of my favorite albums, so I am long overdue.

Here's #18:

Yes, it's Pink Floyd's The Wall.

From the grandiose opening of "In the Flesh?" and the first vocal snarl:

"So ya'
thought ya'
might like to
go to the show?

To feel the warm thrill of confusion,
that space cadet glow...."

and the droning plane crashing into the next track of "The Thin Ice".

There's really nothing like this record. Call it grandiose. Call it overwrought. Call it what you want. But I listen to this and feel like I'm 15 again.

I say 15 despite the fact that the album came out when I was 12. However, I was belatedly celebrating the last throes of the disco insurgency, and then a two and a half year consumption by Beatlemania. In 1982, the film version of The Wall was released, and I saw it later, I'm guessing in the Spring of 1983, perhaps even 1984. I mean, like, it was rated R, and all that.

I'm sure I was seduced by "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" and the chorus of schoolchildren chanting "We don't need no education...". Who could not be a teenager and resist the battle cry "HEY! TEACHERS!! Leave those kids alone!!!"?

Of course I was not a product of the British educational system. And I surely didn't get the entire movie when I first plunked down $3.00 at the Physical Science Auditorium up at UH-Manoa to see the film vision of a mammoth double-disc sonic extravaganza.

So I am writing this with a lot of hindsight.

In August 1983, I was in Israel, on a six-week tour called The Leadership Training Course, and our last night in Haifa, we were dragged to a concert. Of course we grumbled. It was an Israeli band performing a free concert in one of the parks, dedicated to all the eighteen-year-olds entering the military. And as one would imagine, they totally rocked. So much so that I blew some scarce shekels on their cassette. The band was called Benzene and all their songs were in Hebrew. It was catchy pop-rock and the crowd loved it. However, the defining moment arrived at the end of the show when they performed a spot-on cover of "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II." I remember telling one of my friends later that it might as well have been Pink Floyd playing, it sounded that good.

Therefore, the memory of that event prompts me to conclude that I had a greater than basic familiarity with The Wall by August 1983. Perhaps I had the album by then, but surely I would have repeatedly heard the song and others from the album on Honolulu's sole rock station, 98 Rock.

Where was I? Oh yeah, 1983 was a pivotal year for me. A turning point for so many reasons, with not enough time or blogspots to explain it all. So, let's just say that's when I first heard the album, first saw the movie, first realized that an LP could transcend so many complicated emotions and moods.

Aside from its success as a "concept" album, there are some remarkably great individual tracks speckled across all four sides of the record (as they said in the old days). "Comfortably Numb" - #314 on "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time," and often cited as having one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, "Hey You" was the B-side. Although not as commercial, "Young Lust," "Goodbye Blue Sky," "Run Like Hell" and "Mother," are all memorable standout tracks as well.

Read Kurt Loder's review of The Wall for Rolling Stone here.

Listen: "Hey You" (Live) (mp3)

Listen: "Comfortably Numb" (Live) (mp3)

Well, I realized that this is not as complete as it could be. Oh well. If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!

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