Mojo (UK) - - The 50 Greatest Pink Floyd Songs -

(from The Wall, 1979)

Among the many arte­facts in Pink Floyd’s ex­hi­bi­tion Their Mor­tal Re­mains are the cane and pun­ish­ment book from Syd Bar­rett and Roger Wa­ters’ old alma mater, the Cam­bridgeshire High School For Boys. The cane was used by head­mas­ter Arthur Eagling, and the book records that Floyd’s fu­ture bass player re­ceived six strokes for fight­ing in 1959. Wa­ters chal­lenged his tu­tors at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. He was dis­hon­ourably dis­charged from the school cadet force, and once claimed to have staged some sort of Dadaist art prank, by eat­ing the ap­ples on the school gar­dener’s favourite tree with­out first re­mov­ing them from the branches. All this fed into the story of The Wall’s dis­il­lu­sioned rock star, Pink. But Wa­ters took his re­venge on Eagling and the rest with the al­bum’s un­ex­pected hit sin­gle. An­other Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’s supremely dis­mis­sive mes­sage – “We don’t need no edu-kay-shun” – was a red rag to teach­ers across Thatcher’s Bri­tain, but a gift to schoolkids ev­ery­where. The song’s wildest card is still drum­mer Nick Ma­son’s four-on-the-floor rhythm. The idea of Pink Floyd ‘go­ing’ disco seemed im­prob­a­ble at the time. But The Wall was a dou­ble al­bum with room for such ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. De­spite Floyd think­ing they couldn’t write hit sin­gles af­ter Syd Bar­rett left, An­other Brick…’s slo­ga­neer­ing lyrics and post-Satur­day Night Fever drum beat made it ideal for ra­dio air­play. Un­usu­ally for Pink Floyd, the song cuts right to the chase, with its sole verse sung twice. But the devil is in the de­tail. David Gil­mour’s de­liv­ery of the first few lines up un­til “no dark sar­casm in the class­room”, is al­most com­i­cally dead­pan, but it’s el­e­vated at 0:47, when Roger Wa­ters adds his manic tone to the mix (“Hey teach­ers!…”). Wa­ters re­turns later as the hys­ter­i­cal Scot­tish school­mas­ter – “How can ye have any pud­ding if ye don’t eat ya meat!” – and you can hear the dis­graced army cadet and phan­tom ap­ple-eater in ev­ery tor­tured syl­la­ble. The teenage choir on the sec­ond ver­sion of the verse is sim­ple but daz­zlingly ef­fec­tive. The band and pro­ducer Bob Ezrin recorded most of The Wall in Su­per Bear Stu­dios, in Berre-les-Alpes, France. But en­gi­neer Nick Grif­fiths at Floyd’s Bri­tan­nia Row stu­dio in north Lon­don was or­dered to “find some kids” and headed to nearby Is­ling­ton Green School. His hastilyassem­bled choir evoke the spirit of Fa­gin’s pick­pock­ets in Lionel Bart’s Oliver! but, like ev­ery­thing on An­other Brick In The Wall, they never out-stay their wel­come. Gil­mour plays the song out with a gui­tar solo so sub­lime, so mea­sured, even one ex­tra note would have knocked it out of sync. Taken in­di­vid­u­ally, this pe­cu­liar mish-mash of disco drum­ming, chil­dren’s voices and phoney Scot­tish ac­cents is all wrong. To­gether, though, it makes per­fect, bril­liant sense.

De­ten­tion time again: Roger Wa­ters lays a brick dur­ing The Wall tour, 1980.

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