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Pink Floyd - Is There Anybody Out There?: The Wall Live 1981  Print E-mail
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Tuesday, 18 April 2000

Is There Anybody Out There?
The Wall Live 1981
Columbia Records, 2000
| Performance 9 | Sound 9 |

Let me come right out and say it – ‘The Wall’ is the greatest high-end audio album of all time. Roger Waters’ emotional problems translate into the most compelling rock and roll masterpiece on record and, in this case, highlights from a few of 29 live performances. Groundbreaking theatrical effects, articulate melodies and balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll make ‘The Wall’ a spectacle that transcends anything ever to hit Broadway.



I was not one of the lucky ones who actually saw the live show of ‘The Wall,’ but the stories are still told in the music industry to this day. The concept was to capture the grandeur of the album’s creativity for a mega-stadium event. The company built a huge wall and projected animation by Gerald Scarfe, much of which can be seen in the feature film. Gigantic, freakish inflatable characters floated over the audience. There are even rumors that the show was mixed in Quadraphonic sound.

The CD release of ‘The Wall Live’ is an aural trip back in time for some rock theater magic. From the very start, the album has an amazingly live feel. As the record rolls out, the MC haphazardly introduces the band to have them segue, right over top of his introduction, into the first Mahler-esque refrains of "In the Flesh." In case you were wondering why you invested in that 350-watt amp, this CD shows you what the equipment is doing in your home. "In The Flesh" explodes with sound, layered with melodies and pop hooks.

One of my concerns before hearing the live recording was how Pink Floyd was going to pull off the effects that were so important to the emotional power of the record. ‘The Wall Live’ presents a very believable performance and has overcome my reservations. The performance is not perfect – who would want it to be? The effects, vocal harmonies, guitar effects, choirs and helicopters are all there with a fresh sound and the underwritten energy of a live show.

The performance of the show is pretty strong. Roger Waters’ voice isn’t as dead-on as it is on the studio album, but in a way, this is an unfair comparison. He takes some chances especially on the later, delusions-of-grandeur tracks like the version of "In The Flesh" found on disc 2. David Gilmour kills a number of solos, taking them way beyond the scope of their normal, radio-friendly bounds. The best example of this is "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2," where he pushes his Strat to its bluesy limits with soulful chops and tasty tone.

There are three extra songs on ‘The Wall Live’ that you won’t find on the studio record. On disc 1, you’ll hear "What Shall We do Now?" and "The Last Few Bricks," which both provide more cadence to the performance than any substantive content. On disc 2, the cut "Master of Ceremonies," Waters imitates the introduction at the beginning of the record in his Hitler-esque character, which (much like the other new cuts) sets the stage for the second version of the song.

The best part of ‘The Wall Live’ is that it injects new life into one of the best start-to-finish albums of all time. Compared to the studio record, the live album has the remarkable ability to suspend your disbelief and suck you into the wild world of Roger Waters psyche. The recording is warm and deep and much better than the average live technology of that era. The quality is up to Pink Floyd's unusually high standard, which just adds to the fact that, if you are into Pink Floyd at all, you need this performance on CD.








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