Pink Floyd's eleventh studio album The Wall was released in December of 1979 and is a classic and regarded as the band's most ambitious masterwork.
This double album ranks up there with other noted classic rock double studio albums like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Tommy, Exile on Main Street, Quadrophenia, Blonde on Blonde, London Calling, The White Album, Physical Graffiti, Electric Ladyland and many others.
The concept for The Wall still holds up over 30 years after its initial release.
The idea came to bass player/singer Roger Waters whom was upset with himself after spitting on a fan on the last gig of the Animals tour at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
In 1978, Roger was writing and recording demos that would become The Wall (many to appear on the Immersion Version in 2012). Meanwhile, drummer Nick Mason was off producing other acts (ranging from punk rockers The Damned to prog rocker Steve Hillage) whilst the other two principle Pink Floyd songwriters whom were guitarist/singer David Gilmour and keyboard player Rick Wright were recording their first solo albums in France which both came out in 1978.
In late 1978 the band, along with KISS/Alice Cooper/Peter Gabriel/Lou Reed producer Bob Ezrin, began demoing the songs for The Wall at Britannia Row Studios in London (these too are to appear on the Immersion Version in 2012).
The band properly began recording The Wall in April of 1979 in two studios in France (and later at studios in Los Angeles and New York) with Waters, Gilmour, Ezrin and engineer James Guthrie producing to avoid the crazy English tax laws as the band was almost bankrupt due to their agents stealing the money in a way that they still owed the British tax companies taxes.
All of the songs, save four, were written by Roger. The album's three best tracks "Young Lust", "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell" were co-written by Gilmour. Then, "The Trial" was co-written by Ezrin.
The Wall was a concept album which told the story of a character named Pink (a composite of Roger Waters and Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett).
After we begin with the bombast rock of "In the Flesh?", The Wall story begins when Pink goes through a traumatic childhood of losing his father in war ("The Thin Ice" and "Another Brick in the Wall (pt.1)"), cruel sarcastic teachers ("The Happiest Days of Our Lives", the chart-topping single "Another Brick in the Wall (pt.2)"), an overbearing mother ("Mother"), problems with adolescence ("Goodbye Blue Sky") problems with success ("Empty Spaces"), relationship troubles ("Young Lust" (wife leaves him), "One of My Turns" (snapping when the groupie comes in room and many other problems (like the wife beating in "Don't Leave Me Now") one goes through before walling himself off from the rest of the world ("Another Brick in the Wall (pt. 3)" and "Goodbye Cruel World").
The second disc starts with Pink walled off from society (starting with the classic "Hey You" and "Is There Anybody Out There?") then ponders his life in a hotel room ("Nobody Home") and thinks back to his father's death ("Vera" and "Bring the Boys Back Home"). The highlight of the album is "Comfortably Numb" which tells the tale of Pink being confronted by a doctor to take something before he could go on with the show. The song was first intended for David Gilmour's 1978 solo debut but was thankfully left off and saved for The Wall. The track is a classic and is always in the Top 10 greatest rock song/guitar solo polls! The track "The Show Must Go On" is Pink being led to the show and then as a fascist dictator Pink is performing like a madman as depicted in "In the Flesh", "Run Like Hell" and "Waiting For the Worms" before having his own trial ("Stop" and "The Trial") and is ordered to knock down his wall to start life fresh ("Outside the Wall").
Band turmoil during 1979 reached an all-time high and Roger eventually kicked Rick Wright out of the band citing Rick wasn't doing squat when in fact Roger was setting Rick up to fail from the word go. Rick was let go but stayed to finish the album and did The Wall shows in 1980/81 as a paid musician (the other three members lost money from staging the shows). Rick played on most of the album (even co-producer James Guthrie stated Rick played on more of The Wall than given credit) as does Nick whom is not on drums for half the record (Jeff Porcaro played drums on Mother, Jeff's father Joe played snare drum on Bring the Boys Back Home and there's no drums on some of the tracks).
Despite the band turmoil, The Wall became Pink Floyd's third US chart-topping album (stayed at #1 for 15 weeks), sold over 25 million in the US alone (second highest selling album of original material of all time here in the US and best selling double album ever though some configurations were on one cassette and one heavily edited 8-track cartridge), spawned the greatest rock concerts ever produced (documented on Is There Anybody Out There and many boots available) and a classic film.
As part of the 2011 Why Pink Floyd? campaign, the band re-release this masterwork with a remastered CD painstakingly done by James Guthrie (one of the original co-producers of the album and the engineer of the album) and Joel Plante. Out of the CD issues I have owned of this album, this is probably my favorite version (sure beats the lifeless EMI Europe remasters from 1994) apart from the original vinyl record. Also the booklet is excellent and does a great job replicating the original vinyl LP art apart from the change in color text of front cover writing.
As of 2016, the album has been re-released on Pink Floyd Records (distributed by Sony Music) with different artwork on the CD compared to the Discovery edition from 2011 and 36 plus years on is still the best album of the 1976-83 phase of Pink Floyd (the Roger Waters power trip).
The Wall is still a classic today and is highly recommended!