Pink Floyd: The Wall Immersion Box Set

Pink Floyd
The Wall – Immersion Box Set
(Capitol Records)

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It’s to be expected, of course, from a remastering (by the album’s original engineer, James Guthrie), but for me, someone who knows Pink Floyd’s The Wall as well as I do, hearing the specific details of David Gilmour’s electric guitar pull-offs and super soft drummer Nick Mason’s tom technique as well as his perfectly-placed hi-hat and the much missed, woefully underrated Richard Wright’s organ and piano playing is a real treat! And, of course, hearing Roger Waters, Floyd’s bassist/main vocalist/writer of The Wall, at his searing sexy and dangerous best makes the first two disks of this new Immersion Box Set maybe even worth the price.

Highlights  include the opener, “In the Flesh, Part 1;” the scrumptious “Mother” (Gilmour’s lead in this one always gives me chills); “Young Lust” and “One Of My Turns;” the clear-as-a-bell “Hey You” (not a tune I ever liked all that much, but hearing Wright’s electric piano so well gives one chills); those droplet-like arpeggios of strings and horn swells in the “Comfortably Numb” chorus and, of course, Gilmour’s signature lead, sounding even more amazing as we are able to truly hear the sustain on his guitar like never before!

The rest of the CD’s?

First there is an entire live 1980 performance of The Wall from Earl’s Court in the UK. Entitled Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live (again, remastered by Guthrie), these two disks reveal one of the few performances of The Wall that was mounted in 1980. (There were a scant 29 shows of The Wall performed by the Floyd around the world.) This show has been available in bootleg for many years and here we have it officially released for the first time. The sound quality is fantastic, but being the sticklers they were for presenting unprecedented reproductions (with a slew of extra players on-hand for these shows) you’re not going to hear much improvising or anything different in this live stuff than you do from the studio album. Still, it’s nice to have this historical document, even if at times the show sounds more like a Nuremberg rally then rock concert!

The rest of the music here is basically demos—arguably stuff only a real Floyd head might want—but this is really where one could dig in their heels, unzip their fly and…well you get the idea. There’s one disk of almost all snippets of Waters with basically just guitar and vocal for tunes like “Another Brick In The Wall,” “Mother,” and “Young Lust.” But then there are cool versions of demos of tunes that did not make the original album like “Backs Against The Wall” and “It’s Never Too Late.” (The second of these demo CD’s features a distinctive keyboard lead sound Wright made famous years earlier on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” on Wish You Were Here.) It also features songs that appear so very different that they are nearly unrecognizable from the tunes that made the album, such as “Run Like Hell” and “The Thin Ice” on the first CD, especially (Gilmour’s playing on “Ice” is especially amazing). For me though it’s the second CD of band demos that’s really the most interesting. The fuller band arrangements, even as demos, reveal how really amazing Pink Floyd was when they came time to even start demoing. But here with two stabs at a song called “The Doctor,” which would eventually become the famous “Comfortably Numb,” we get a whole drastically different set of verse lyrics (not so great actually) and Gilmour taking full vocal lead on one version with no lead guitar! There is also Rick Wright’s amazing piano playing on the demo of “The Show Must Go On,” which would not make the final full orchestrated final mix, and lots of stabs at “Outside The Wall,” one with harmonica that is kinda neat-o.

Disc 7 is a DVD with the “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” promotional video, a Behind The Wall documentary, Gerald Scarfe interview (animator/designer of The Wall package and live-show scary inflatables and films, plus cartoonist on the film) and a too-short filmed extract of the Earls Court concert performance. There’s also a 44-page oversized, bound booklet, five collector cards and art print by long-time Floyd album cover and visual materials producer Storm Thorgerson, an exclusive photo book, a replica of both The Wall tour ticket and a backstage pass, a scarf, three white marbles with the design of bricks, nine coasters of early Storm Thorgerson design sketches, prints/cards of Mark Fisher’s stage drawings for the live show and a credits booklet. (Look, don’t ask me about the coasters, marbles or the scarf, I have no answer on those really.)

This set is pricey, but for Floyd freaks, a must-have.

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