by Merry Mercurial
My review of The Wall Redux from Magnetic Eye Records is up on Cover Me:
Often ranked among the best concept albums of all time, Pink Floyd’s The Wall was released on November 30, 1979. Produced by band members David Gilmour and Roger Waters along with Bob Ezrin and James Guthrie, it’s overwhelmingly considered Waters’s baby. He conceived of Pink, the fatigued rock-star figure on whom the album centers, and who is widely thought to contain characteristics of both Roger Waters and Pink Floyd cofounder and original frontman, Syd Barrett. The musical narrative confronts war, the ugly side of stardom, and the conformity encouraged by many English private schools of the day – blending the nominally unrelated subjects into seamless theme.
Covering an album as entrenched in the musical culture as this one is ambitious and dicey by nature. Many well-known acts have covered Pink Floyd, and even the more celebrated among those covers are not immune to pushback from tie-dyed-in-the-wool Floyd fans. The bands behind The Wall Redux certainly get points for chutzpah. The newest redux effort from Magnetic Eye Records, this compilation invites artists from rock and metal to revisit all the songs on Pink Floyd’s 11th studio album.
It makes sense that the Melvins would serve up a hell of a kickoff for The Wall Redux. The time-tested gonzos of punk-rock have always demonstrated an unselfconsciousness that keeps their music pretense-free, and many of their long-term fans will love hearing them cover the album opener. But the fact is, it doesn’t go with the rest of The Wall Redux (which is to say, it doesn’t go with The Wall), and the changes they’ve made erode Pink Floyd’s influence.
Most notably, the lyrics have been altered to reflect romantic longing. From the opening “Darling, darling, darling, I can’t wait to see you,” the song is about the desire to hold a remote lover, yes, in the flesh. The tension between music and lyrics does lend itself to a vibe that’s not completely on the up and up. Because it’s nothing overt, the song could skew as borderline murdery or just earnest in love. That ambiguity makes their take pretty interesting in its own right.
That said, one of so many refreshing qualities about Pink Floyd was how rarely their material centered on capital-r relationship love; the bonds and emotional injuries at the heart of their lyrical canon benefited from the same explorative clout that drove their music. Beyond that, The Wall is the concept album all the other concept albums want to be. Kicking off the redux of an album that cogently addresses war, mourning, the crushing of creativity, etc., with lyrics from romance is a strange move. And that realistic baby’s cry from the original – here it’s basically slapstick.
Check out the rest at Cover Me.