Oct 08

PINK FLOYD – “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”

FT + Popular73 comments • 8,693 views

#448, 15th December 1979

The 1970s ends with one of its most explicitly anti-establishment hits – Roger Waters’ direct frontal attack on the school system. Education is thought control, the flower of youthful creativity ruthlessly crushed by frustrated men grinding kids through their sausage machine. If we don’t watch out this will end up in a fascist state where we’re all ruled by robot hammers. Grinding conformity is represented by the dark pulse of a disco bassline, which wells into the unfettered individuality of a big old Dave Gilmour guitar solo – hurrah!

“Another Brick” may be as subtle as one, but the massed choir of kids singing “We don’t need no thought control” has a creepy power, with the music’s ponderousness actually helping the song build its sour, thick atmosphere, guitars skritching uneasily around the lumbering bottom end. I have an apostate’s dislike of 70s-onwards Pink Floyd – for six months or so at 14 I thought they were profound and hugely important, on one occasion shunning a party in order to listen carefully through The Wall and extract still deeper meanings from it. My distaste for them ever since has been amplified by embarrassment – though I do honestly think they’re rubbish, Waters’ immense bitterness and misanthropy colouring and curdling their work beyond my ability to enjoy it.

But this is a rare and partial exception – Waters’ championing of the individual may not have extended to the contributions of his bandmates, but thanks to them (and the kids) “Another Brick” does a job. The one it set out to do? I don’t know – when you mix individualism and misanthropy you can easily end up with nihilism, and there’s a cackling viciousness to the kids’ voices to remind us that life without teacher might end up scarier than Waters imagines.



  1. 1
    vinylscot on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Back on the Buggles’ thread sukrat called their song a “faux novelty” record,and asked himself for further examples. I would suggest this is one; both the sentiment expressed and the use of the schoolkids combine to make this appeal to people who wouldn’t normally be seen anywhere near a Pink Floyd song. Supporting this, the album came out before the single hit #1, and most Floyd fans would have bought that, being, by nature allergic to 7″ pieces of vinyl.

    This was undeniably commercial, but I was never a great Floyd fan despite loving some of their stuff, and this didn’t really change my mind. I think chart-type pop fans may have been hoping for something a little better to usher out the 70s and bring in the new decade which, onthe strength of 1979’s #1s, looked pretty promising.

    “I Have A Dream” would have been #1 at Christmas if it weren’t for this song, and I’m not sure how appropriate that would have been for the “new era”, but possibly better than this.

  2. 2
    DJ Punctum on 10 Oct 2008 #

    You know, I was actually looking forward to posting my thoughts on this but truthfully I’m wondering whether I should bother now; not just because of the foreknowledge that this is going to divert after about 4-5 posts into some stupid, irrelevant and unfunny splinter discussion which has nothing to do with the record itself, but also because if Tom really thinks Pink Floyd – who are a pivotal and I mean PIVOTAL group for me – are rubbish then it makes me feel (just as with ILM) that I’m in the wrong place here, that there’s no point saying anything, that there’s little worth in wasting time and effort on posting on this in detail or indeed at all, that I’m just shouting into the void and no one’s going to listen or pay a blind bit of attention.

    I could spend thousands of words arguing the opposite but on reflection that means I’m doing Tom’s work for him and it seems an increasingly forlorn and useless task when most people are just going to skip over my post and talk (about) shit for the next 50 posts.

  3. 3
    Tom on 10 Oct 2008 #

    ABBA’s real welcome into the decade was the stupendously bleak “Happy New Year”, of course.

    Back to PF: As a 6 year old I only remember the singing kids and (dimly) the video – the sentiment expressed went right over my head though I’m sure it was very popular indeed among kids a bit older (or less head-in-the-clouds) than me.

  4. 4
    Mark G on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Well, they plainly aren’t “rubbish”, but not something I’ve ever felt an attachment to.

    Although this one could be in the running for being called the first punk number one.

  5. 5
    Erithian on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Where I’ve enjoyed Pink Floyd – most of “Dark Side”, “Echoes”, “Crazy Diamond” – it’s been because there’s some pace and structure to the music. Where I haven’t, it’s been what I would call aimless wibble. And then there’s this. The menacing tone of the music is hugely effective and there’s a lovely fluid guitar solo. But the music’s not the main thing that sticks in your mind here is it?

    My take on this at the end of the decade was: here’s me, just failed the entrance exam to Oxford but with a good offer from London, with an opportunity to achieve something and become, as someone was soon to say, the first of my line in a thousand generations to go to university. There’s you, four millionaires who’ve had the benefit of a more than decent education, encouraging the present school generation and those coming up to make Sir’s life a misery and produce a situation where teachers have nervous breakdowns (I’m sure Rosie and others can fill in details). There’s the kids in Islington helping you out, and if they take your advice a glittering future of shelf-stacking will follow. Fuck OFF.

    (I know that’s taking the song out of the context of a concept album, but that’s how most people will have heard it.)

    While this was number one, I was in Egham for my interview at Royal Holloway. On the eve of the interview (Billy, I was in Founders and it was my first night within hearing of the clock tower!) the last song I heard on the radio before turning in was “London Calling”. I had heard the future and it wasn’t the Floyd.

  6. 6
    Tom on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Re #2: I’d love to read some good pro-Floyd stuff on this thread, specifically the Floyd of Dark Side onwards I guess. (I enjoy the early funny stuff more) It’s hardly the first time we’ve disagreed Marcello and I’m fairly positive it won’t be the last. It would be good to read an examination of the Floyd which rises above the Tanya trolling and counter-trolling we usually get.

    Not every thread diversion is entertaining for everyone – that’s the nature of these things: there were definitely periods in the early 70s entries where the comments boxes seemed to be on a single-minded quest to name every minor light ent personality and New Faces contestant of the era, and I was thinking “What’s the point?”.

  7. 7
    DJ Punctum on 10 Oct 2008 #

    That’s what I’m thinking now but for different reasons :-(

  8. 8
    DJ Punctum on 10 Oct 2008 #

    It was that stark, No Arguments Allowed “honestly think they’re rubbish” that’s just killed Popular stone dead for me.

    It’s the equivalent of a huge SLAP in the face.

    I’ll go and write about it and the rest of the number ones somewhere where people have basic notions of respect and don’t feel like pissing on the loves and the histories of others.

  9. 9
    Tom on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Marcello I think you’re overreacting – I’m not saying or implying “No Arguments Allowed”! “I do honestly think” is hardly a diktat – if anything it was intended to sound slightly defensive!

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 10 Oct 2008 #

    #2 as I said in the last thread DJP, I always enjoy your comments and the insights you share so I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on this and Pink Floyd in general.
    I also enjoy some of the off topic posts as well.

    I was a fan of Pink Floyd for a while. I saw them in 1973-74 when they previewed songs that were later released on ‘Animals’ and was a bit confused when they didn’t appear on ‘Wish you were here’. I was even more confused when I bought ‘A nice pair’: the 1970s reissue of the first two albums with Syd but became a bit clearer after I read Nick Kent’s hymn to Syd in the NME.
    By the time ‘Animals’ came out I was more focused on a mixture of punk, dub and, er, the Grateful Dead but I do remember listening to it. I have never knowingly listened to ‘The Wall’ in it’s entirety. By the time it came out I was at art college and they were not considered cool enough. Since then I’ve seen clips of Geldof’s gurning features interspersed with Gerald Scarfe’s animations but have never registered the music until I heard Van Morrison’s version of ‘Comfortably Numb’ on ‘The Departed’ soundtrack and I quite liked that.

    I find ABITW irritating. Because I don’t know the album I’m never sure whether the sentiment is meant sincerely or if Waters is being ironic. If it’s the latter then it isn’t clear. If it’s the former then it’s just embarrassingly trite. Despite all that it does have a nagging hook and a dependable guitar solo so I find it hard to ignore or forget – which is why I find it irritating.

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 10 Oct 2008 #

    When I studied Art at school we thought Salvador Dali was the bees knees because of his technical facility and spooky/mysterious subject matter. When I got to Art college it became obvious that Dali wasn’t cool and that his ideas and technique were considered trite. After art college I came to the conclusion that some of Dali’s work (mostly the period represented in the Tate’s collection such as Autumnal Cannibalism)was quite interesting, if not as profound as I once thought it was. I have a similar feeling about 1970s Pink Floyd from Meddle up to Wish you were here. I enjoy the music – particularly the melodies of Gilmour and Wright and some of the lyrics – but not ABITW!

  12. 12
    SteveM on 10 Oct 2008 #

    I guess the main thing I like is the rolling, vaguely funky groove (later sampled on Salt n Pepa’s ‘Gitty Up’ for all you rap fans in here) – it reminds me of ‘Everyone’s A Winner’. I’d like to know more about the gestation of this song production-wise, the choices and reasoning for the disco-based back track in particular. It’s an interesting contrast for sure.

    The video had it’s moments but the repetition of some of Scarfe’s sequences (the circular wall closing and the head teacher/hammer morph) really bothered me years later – increasingly spoiled as I was to become from bigger budgets promo-wise and a fascination with music videos as much as the music itself. ABITW2 is a seminal moment in the medium tho I’m sure.

    Unlike Tom I find myself appreciating PF (and prog rock generally) a bit more now – I enjoyed the BBC documentary on Dark Side Of The Moon (from the composition process to the inspiration for the cover design) and would be a bit worried about this were it not amusing me this much. Less amusing may be how much I liked bits and bobs of ‘The Division Bell’ at it’s time.

  13. 13
    LondonLee on 10 Oct 2008 #

    I’m not much of a Floyd fan at all but I can see their appeal to some, but this record is just sort of stone dead for me, it just drably plods along. The only memory it brings up is that one of the school kids singing in the video (not on the record) used to live downstairs from us and she was a right little stage school brat.

    Marcello, get over yourself for crying out loud. You’re acting like some little boy threatening to take his ball and go home. There’s a pivotal group (and I mean PIVOTAL group) in my life coming up soon and I don’t care it Tom slaps them in the face or not, I’m not that delicate.

  14. 14
    Conrad on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Pink Floyd became an important group for me in the early/mid 90s when I properly discovered them (beyond possessing the whimsical Syd-era albums at University).

    As a musician myself at this point, the Live at Pompeii video became compulsive viewing, particularly the staggeringly brilliant version of Echoes (part 1 of which opens the film). This version is far ahead of the Meddle recording.

    Tom – dig out the Pompeii video (not the DVD version which contains an awful director’s cut replete with naff special effects) and watch Floyd performing in the deserted coliseum (the camera slowly panning behind their huge amplifiers, flight cases inscribed “Pink Floyd London”). It’s the most beautiful combination of aural and visual bliss imaginable and I believe will lead you to re-assess Floyd’s worth.

    My preferred Floyd period is Meddle-Animals and I have never really felt like investigating The Wall.

    As a 12 year old at the time it topped the charts, I quite enjoyed Another Brick In The Wall’s hook, but felt disconcerted by the video and confused by the lyrics. But I wasn’t aware who Pink Floyd were at that point and had no knowledge of their back catalogue.

    And – Rick Wright RIP.

  15. 15
    rosie on 10 Oct 2008 #

    And so another decade ends. In particular I associate this with being in the Town Hall Tavern in Leeds on a break from our Anal Prog training, looking forward and wondering if there would be jobs for us at the end of the course. (Actually jobs weren’t at the forefront of my mind by this time.) Back in Hull that night I seem to remember one of my better New Years – a procession of first footings up and down Ella Street.

    I like the underlying groove to this. I don’t much like anything else about it and I especially don’t like the listless and apathetic children on it. I’d sweated my guts out for three years as a teacher and this is the thanks you get!

    I’m of the Pink Floyd generation and I thought this was a sad and rather clunky way for them to get their popular recognition. What a pity we never got close to dealing with See Emily Play all those years earlier. Poor Syd, by now eking out his days between Fulbourn Hospital and the porter’s lodge at (I think) St Johns.

  16. 16
    mike on 10 Oct 2008 #

    As vinylscot suggests in #1, I was certainly disappointed that the last Number One of this amazing year, and indeed the first Number One of the shiny new decade, was bagged by those dreary, manky old dinosaurs Pink Flob (as they were waggishly dubbed by my contemporaries).

    Now, before anyone goes postal on me for daring to diss the Floyd, some background is called for. Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are both albums that I knew inside out and back to front. I must have played them many dozens of times, and I adored them both.

    But then Animals came out, featuring re-worked versions of those notably less thrilling songs that I’d heard on those live bootlegs (“Raving and Drooling”, “Gotta Be Crazy”) – and worse still, the album emerged right at the apex of my punk rock fundamentalist stage. All of a sudden, a switch flicked. Who gave a stuff about what Roger Waters thought of the world, mithering from his gilt-edged ivory tower, when Lydon and Strummer and Devoto and Goddard and Weller and all the rest of them were Telling It Like It Really Was?

    That’s how I saw it back then, and hence there was nothing about The Wall which minded me to investigate it. To this day, it remains the biggest selling post-1960s album which I have never heard, unless you count the time I caught the movie (featuring a close Uni friend of mine, now sadly deceased, running through a tunnel as an extra). We’ve all got our blind spots, and The Wall has been one of mine. Hell, I’d never knowingly heard “Comfortably Numb” until the Scissor Sisters covered it. [pathetic namedrop alert] Ana Matronic was astonished when I told her that. [/pathetic namedrop alert]

    Since then, I’ve downloaded the original “Comfortably Numb”, and have discovered to my surprise that it’s not the godawful dirge of my imaginings. Far from it, indeed – an impression which was further re-inforced by the band’s stunning reunion performance at Live 8.

    Well before Live 8 came around, and as part of a more general coming to terms with my prog-rock past (a process which was kicked off by seeing both Yes and Gong perform in late 2001), I had come back to Dark Side and Wish You Were Here, falling in love with them all over again. When Greg Dulli sang “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in Nottingham the night after Syd died, segue-ing brilliantly into Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, I wept copiously. And the recent loss of Richard Wright is a sad one indeed.

    Back to “Another Brick In The Wall”, and I do very much share lonepilgrim’s confusion as stated in #10. Is it meant to be taken straight, or are there additional layers which can only be gleaned by placing it in context with its parent album?

    In the absence of such knowledge, I find myself left with what I’ve always considered to be a slight piece of work. A quick bit of back-of-fag-packet doggerel, a kids’ choir, a guitar solo, and not much else. Much as I had reason to resent all manner of aspects of the school system, the “education = thought control” equation struck me as trite and misplaced, the clunking misfire of ex-public schoolboys grasping for the common touch.

    I’ll grant it a certain brooding fin-de-siecle atmosphere, though. A five from me.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 10 Oct 2008 #

    My seven year old self was dead impressed by this, the singalong aspects were addictive, but especially because of the grotesque context of the Gerald Scarfe video imagary; the marching hammers, the grinding machine. (Oddly, the only bit of the promo that really impresses me as agrown man, is the exterior wide shot of the block of flats where all of the children walking in unison.

    These days, however… I think that this must be one of my least favourite number ones of all. What I object to most of all is the adoption of disco as a signifier of sheeplike conformity – Its like a denial of joy, light, sex, life. And Dave Gilmore guitar solos are always grindingly unexciting things to hear. It’s the type of thing which humourless people find playful.

    Compare and contrast this with ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ by The Smiths. Both are songs about the brutality of institutionalised education. But with Morrissey there’s a sense of a life beyond the hatred, an understanding of the value of learning beyond the horrors of school. Wheras Waters always seems almost autisticly fixated on his own misanthropy and suffering, buttonholing the listener with his tales of woe, but never achieving any insight or understanding beyond it.

    Vile disc!

  18. 18
    Erithian on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Since Marcello (in spectacularly grumpy mode today) referred elsewhere to Sarah Palin, perhaps I should give equal time to the Democrats – that quote I alluded to at #5.

    In 1987 Neil Kinnock said: “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?”

    A few months later Joe Biden, bidding for the Democratic nomination for 1988, said in Iowa: ” I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Am I the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree because I was smarter than the rest?”
    More background at http://www.slate.com/id/2198597/

    Oh, and one more point about ABITW: the word is pronounced SAR-casm not sar-CAS-em. Get it right!

  19. 19
    jeff w on 10 Oct 2008 #

    The Wall was for many years “my favourite album of all time”. If I still made lists of fave albums I think it might even now make the Top 5.

    I stayed up late to tape The Friday Rock Show* special on the eve of the LP’s release – in which Tommy Vance played the whole album in order, interspersed with an entertaining conversation with Roger Waters about the record and what it meant – only to get a scolding from my parents when they returned home from an evening out at 11.35pm only to discover me still up. I was sent straight to bed and missed the last part of the programme. I had to get the end of it off a schoolfriend later.

    (*yes I’d graduated a few months before from daytime Radio 1 listening to following also to some of the station’s late night programming. The Friday Rock Show was definitely my ‘in’ to this netherworld. It wasn’t until Xmas/New Year ’79 that I heard my first Peel show, and I didn’t start to listen regularly to Peel for another 12 months I think. TV on the radio – no, not them – in the peak years of prog and the NENWOBHM weas pure heaven to a 14 year old, however)

    I was also there at Earls Court the first night ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall’ was performed live. It was in fact the first, proper rock gig I attended. (Part of the titular wall fell down too early, while they were still building it! Oops. I gather the roadie responsible was promptly fired.)

    Poke fun all you like at the lack of subtlety in Waters’ concepts and metaphors and his determination to express his rage in the most overblown forms he can think of. The tunes and musicianship on The Wall are bloody brilliant and the sound of the record (kudos to co-producer Bob Ezrin mainly, one of the 70s greats) awe inspiring. Of particular note are the stomping, quasi-disco rhythms that Nick Mason lays down throughout the record. It’s no surprise that dance producers have frequently plundered the album for beats in recent years.

    In context, “Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2” is perhaps one of the clunkier moments on the LP, following as it does another unadulterated attack on the British education system, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”. (OK, Roger, we get the point.) Liberated from the rest as a 7″ single, however, it has a life all its own, a record to which people can apply their own interpretations and observations.

    Which is all to the good. When it comes to Floyd, it’s always best not to treat their stuff too reverently. Sometimes it’s better if the bricks fall when they’re not supposed to.

  20. 20
    Kat but logged out innit on 10 Oct 2008 #

    Until recently I thought of this as an excellent slice of bleak miserablism with an awesome sparse bassline and good chanting by Ver Kids.

    And then I actually LISTENED to it all the way through! Bloody hell that guitar solo don’t half go on a bit? When I hear that familiar pan-pipe echo tone instantly I AM IN DAD’S CAR (see also Santana). “Daaaaaaad can’t we listen to the top 40 instead?”

    What’s worse is that I have the same (ish) sort of Telecaster as Dave G and for ages I didn’t have a proper amp, only a crappy little reverb box. So of course I ended up recreating the same ‘bwhuuuu’ noise whenever I tried to play along to my Radiohead cds, oh dear! Then I realised that at the end of the day it was the SAME THING and I started listening to Westlife instead.

    SteveM is totally right about the video as well – the images are memorable (and suitably unsettling) but kind of boring if you watch the whole video through. It would be way better if they sped it up double-time to take advantage of the disco backing and turned it into a post-punk anthem!

    Anyway there’s great bits about this song but for me it doesn’t stand up to close inspection. And I’m sure Pink Floyd have produced much better material but I have absolutely no inclination to seek it out.

  21. 21
    SteveIson on 10 Oct 2008 #

    #2 DJ Punctum.I really enjoy reading your in-depth song comments as much as Toms.Maybe there’s alot of people like me who read stuff and appreciate your contributions here but don’t really say much.
    It seems weird you getting so easily p*ssed off at Toms Pink Floyd comment tho.Your lazily generalised n casually offhand dismisal of David Bowie-AN OBVIOUSLY FAR SUPERIOR TALENT- in the Space Oddity thread made me feel just like you do now and for the same reasons..
    Another Brick is a dull,plodding,musically slow-witted dinosaur of a song that does nothing for me 2

  22. 22
    Waldo on 11 Oct 2008 #

    The simple thing here is that anyone who spits out “We don’t need no education” clearly does and in fact that is exactly what the sentence means in any case. No doubt this is irony. That to one side, I have to say that the entirety of Floyd’s “Wall” project passed me by completely. Some in my circle considered it a real happening (can I say that in 1979? “Happening”?) as did my older brother (who would have been 22 back then) but it did nothing for me at all. “Schools Out” was many degrees superior to this as both a protest against school and certainly as a rock track. For me, Floyd meant “Dark Side…”, the first album I ever bought, and pretty little else, although their body of work was considerable. I suppose having left school (but never education, which one never leaves unless you’re an idiot), I felt that I was “too old” for this concept, a silly opinion really, but I simply cannot rewrite personal history. The fact of the matter was I felt that this piece was puerile and as lightweight as it got and that the turn of the decade went out with a rather dull and limp whimper.

  23. 23
    Dan R on 11 Oct 2008 #

    At the age of 11, strange though it may seem, I don’t believe we really saw a fundamental difference between this song and punk. Of course, this was based on historical ignorance, but the anti-establishment message, the morse-code guitar figure that reminded me of “Tommy Gun”, the working-class kids singing, all added up to a sense of continuity. I wonder, by the by, if Roger Waters was in any sense encouraged – rather than threatened – by punk, since he does spend the post-punk era of his career expressing a generalised anti-establishment position, couples with a pervasive misanthropy, and a fear and contempt for sex, all of which are motifs you can find throughout punk.

    Did I like this at the time? Yes, I think I did. It helped to be at school at precisely the time when – perhaps specifically as a boy – you are establishing your identity by refusing to ‘fit in’ to the institution on which you rely. It also helped that parts of the video were filmed in the council estates near where I lived. And, hey, it helps that the chorus is eminently singable, that the drum rhythm and that juddering DM chord pattern create an almost (ALMOST) funky propulsion through the song. David Gilmour’s guitar solo is pretty dull in this though I didn’t object at the time because (a) it was often faded out on the radio, and (b) there were those Gerald Scarfe animations to enjoy on TV.

    Billy, #17, I think you are grossly unfair to dismiss anyone who could enjoy a David Gilmour guitar solo. Yes, some of them are overblown pieces of self-indulgent fretwanking – and this song probably has one of the offenders on it. But at his best there is a lyricism and fluidity and emotional intensity to his playing that make him one of the few guitarits I ever really notice. Some of the playing on Meddle, Shine On, and indeed Comfortably Numb, I find I can connect emotionally with on a very simple and direct level. I don’t recognise the suggestion that humourless people might find them playful: who finds his guitar solos playful? And, may I say, I don’t think you’d describe me as humourless. May I ALSO say that of course I also think ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ is superior, but then it is quite different in kind.

    DJP, it would be a great pity if you stopped posting on here. Your comments are unfailingly passionate, well-informed, original and written with an intensity and a density of thought and feeling that makes them invariably worth reading, even when, as I sometimes do, I think you are completely mistaken. It just seems to me a shame that you seem to believe that you mistake your opinions for facts or believe that your views are in some sense definitive. If other members on this board disagree with you, or indeed don’t feel the need to respond to your ideas, this is not their error. Most of us, I am quite sure, write on these boards because we are interested in the exchange of ideas and engaging in debate; a healthy attitude to debate involves keeping open to the possibility that one’s own views may move. It is unhealthy to treat debate as an opportunity to descend from on high and pronounce authoritatively on matters of judgment and argument. So please please please continue to contribute – but as a contributor like everyone else.

  24. 24
    Conrad on 11 Oct 2008 #

    Great post Dan R, your opening paragraph in particular sums up much better than I managed my feelings towards this track at the time (I was 12 and a (would-be)rebellious school boy).

    It did seem connected to punk/new wave. Had I known the band’s history I would never have made that connection of course.

    I have been a little surprised, but not disappointed, at the amount of adverse comment on ABITW on this thread. I just assumed it was a highly regarded track, I don’t know why.

  25. 25
    Conrad on 11 Oct 2008 #

    And DJP – I enjoy reading your analysis of these recordings immensely. In fact, I often find myself not just prepared to reassess tracks I was previously ambivalent about. I am also motivated to go and relisten to a song I KNOW I don’t even like! Testimony to the quality, depth and passion of your writing.

    I still can’t abide “Bright Eyes” though…

  26. 26
    Waldo on 11 Oct 2008 #

    DJP – Can I use my dying breath to add to the chorus requesting that you don’t fuck off? Popular can’t be doing with losing two of its most fervent protagonists at the same time. At least my departure has been well minuted in advance.

    Also I know you’re just TWITCHING to let us all have your thoughts on Floyd, even though it may take a peerage to bring you back into Cabinet.

    Awwww, c’mon, Marcello! Be a pal!


  27. 27
    DV on 11 Oct 2008 #

    I love this song, it is so dark and brooding. The rest of The Wall is SHITE, though.

  28. 28
    DV on 11 Oct 2008 #

    On Pink Floyd generally, The Wall album is rubbish (as noted above), as is everything that followed it, I’ve never heard Animals, am kind of indifferent to Dark Side of the Moon (it could do without the “Woahhhhh Bodyform!”* vocals), but I like all of the rest that I’ve heard. The early stuff is great, but Wish You Were Here is great too.

    For more incisive analysis of this sort you know where to go.

    *does this reference still have purchase with today’s young people?

  29. 29
    Billy Smart on 11 Oct 2008 #

    Re #23. I was trying to say that I find ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ as a single the type of thing which humourless people think of as being playful, rather than Gilmour’s toothgrindingly dreary and leaden solo on it. I think that there’s an element of novelty to the success of this song in that there aren’t a lot of other Pink Floyd songs which you can compare it too, but that people who really respond to this single are the sort of pop consumers who would generally shun and decry any single that evoked novelty.

    (I generally respond best to the keyboards on post-Syd Pink Floyd – the one thing which I really like is ‘On The Run’ but the combination of Gilmour and Waters makes me want to listen to something else instead – especially on anything after Wish You Were Here)

    ABITW followed me around for a while. In a mad example of trendy teacherdom, it was chosen as my house’s entry in a lower schools choir competition in 1985! Such was the ire that this decision aroused that their equipment was sabotaged and they finished a resounding last in the contest. And then in 1991, I saw a childrens’ theatre group from Tashkent incorporate it into a performance at a festival of Youth Theatre in the Ukraine… The inclusion of something so familiar was incongrous.

  30. 30
    wichita lineman on 11 Oct 2008 #

    I think of the Syd era as a different group, but have always been fond of the More soundtrack which no one has mentioned yet. After all the recent eulogies to Rick Wright I thought I better check the credits on my favourite songs – they’re all written, on his own, by arch-grouch Waters. Green Is The Colour and Cymbaline in particular are perfect English pastorals, the last glow of summer sunsets; woodwind, Peanuts-esque jazz piano and drunken organ are combined with the lightest of touches. “Apprehension creeping like a tube train up your spine” is one of my favourite lines from anyone, too.

    Ten years on, the lightness is entirely gone. I’ve always taken this at face value as a piece of base doggerel, I’d be intrigued to know exactly how many posters think its ironic. I’d guess the dead-disco production and bluntness of the lyric are ironic in as much as Waters wanted to prove they could have a hit single any time they wanted to (wasn’t this their first UK single of the 70s?). By sticking out something so trite and reaching number one, ABITW must have really backed up his misanthropic worldview.

    Rosie may have the stats on this, but I believe Islington Green is/was the sink school of sink schools, bottom of the national league tables. A few years back I had to walk past it every day and there were always fresh flowers outside for a kid who’d been killed in a fight at the school gates. I’d guess Pink Floyd only chose it because it was the nearest comprehensive to Britannia Row studios, but it does make the song seem nastily prophetic.

    Re 23: songs that show a “fear and contempt for sex”? Gosh, that would explain Waters’ ill humour. I think I’ll stick with his bucolic period.

    Ringing out the old decade at number one internationally were a bunch of more genial songs. America, rather aptly, had Rupert Holmes’ Escape (which everybody was desperate to do, as I recall). In Germany it was Maybe by Thom Pace, a 72/73-sounding folksy piece that was the the theme from The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams. Holland went with Earth & Fire’s Weekend, Norway belatedly put We Don’t Talk Anymore at the top which I’d say is a fine bridge to the new decade.

  31. 31
    Alan on 11 Oct 2008 #

    ppl here have (rightly) forgotten the Eric Prydz re-mix/re-imagining (?) of the Wall (last year? year before that?)

    there is a lot of irony in this but i don’t think it’s in the execution, any imagined sarcastic appropriation/villifying of disco, or about proving they could have a hit single any time they wanted. the bluntness/idiocy of the lyrics suit the character/story of the wall at this point and are clearly deliberate. I don’t think anyone would imagine that RW actually believes education is bad (do they?), and putting the defiant and vernacular double-negative in the mouths of children is simple (brilliant) pop-hook sloganeering.

    as a bright 10 yr old i didn’t understand the sentiment (to be honest, i was never a sulky teenager or misunderstood student either. ah well.) but i liked this song a lot. the video was confusing but mesmerising. Later in life i would play the album a lot too. It’s still very effective in places, even though the chainsaw subtlety of the story is irritating, the imagery used is well martialed. It reminds me of Watchmen in its formal over-cleverness. I’ve consciously tried to like other Floyd, but very little of it got through, and i really disliked the stuff that came out post Wall.

    One more thing: MOTHERFUCKER! I well recall going to a Carter USM gig (yeah yeah) when I was (briefly) a teacher (yeah yeah). I had been spotted by some of my pupils, and so before the (boo) encores i pissed off to the back of the crowd to hear their cover of BITW. (Nom nom, Ruby Trax.) it’s a bit shit to be honest (surprised?), but the added MOTHERFUCKER shout in a crowd singalong is apt in that it’s the same frustrated and pointless idiotic defiance of a child going ‘i am saying a swear very loudly!’

  32. 32
    Kat but logged out innit on 11 Oct 2008 #

    I couldn’t remember if the Prydz version got to #1 or not Alang! (Only no.2, nearly two years ago now) It ditched the guitar solo obv, but it was missing half the hook for some reason and so never really lifted off into the bosh stratosphere. Kudos to Prydz for actually getting Floyd to agree to the sample though – apparently it was nearly as stone-blood-wringing as when Madge rang up ABBA that time.

  33. 33
    wichita lineman on 11 Oct 2008 #

    Re 31: Hmmm. But if you extract the opening line of the verse, every other line is typical Roger Waters territory. And he roars “Hey, teacher!” intensely because, whether you like Floyd or not, he’s passionate about his strange beliefs.

    So maybe “we don’t need no education” is a gag; the thought police stuff isn’t ironic.

  34. 34
    Alan on 11 Oct 2008 #

    i’d give that as likely enough.

    there was another ‘noes! educator peril’ song released the previous year, that was well known in our house. harry chapin’s “flowers are red”. oh yes

  35. 35
    crag on 12 Oct 2008 #

    A few random unconnected thoughts on ABITWP2-

    1-its something of a tragedy that The Pink Floyd’s 2 biggest selling and most iconic albums – “The Wall” and “Dark Side” are also, IMO their two worst LPs released by the Waters/Wright/Gilmour/Mason line-up(ok apart from Ummagumma, perhaps). Overblown and self-important, with little or none of the humour, imagination or spirit of adventure of their best work, its no suprise so many people hate them if they think these albums are a sound represenation of the Floyd at their best..

    2-Does anyone hav any background info on why the group broke their long-held “no singles” rule for ABITWP2- its certainly a commercial track but no more than previous tracks like “Money”, “Crazy Diamond” etc which if released on 45(albiet in edited form!) would have surely enjoyed similar chart success- what was it about ABITWP2 that caused them to overturn their “singles are for kids” ruling- its as if Zeppelin had released “All My Love” on 7′ the same year..

    3- Perhaps the whole “No education” standpoint is meant to be simply that of the character of Pink, the narrator of the “Wall” album rather than specifically that of Waters himself?(Doesnt make it sound any less trite or childish though, particullarly when taken out of context as a standalone single..)

    4 Although i know it’ll hold absolutely no sway with him whatsoever i’d just like to say to Marcello i hope u reconsider and come back soon- the Pink Floyd are a hugely important band to me too but given Tom’s usual tastes i’d have been more shocked if he’d came out as a big fan of their work! As such i’d love to read an equally erudite writer such as yourself putting forward the opposing “pro” argument on the Floyds work (and while i’m at it i’ll just add i hope Waldo hangs around a while longer too…)

  36. 36
    David Belbin on 12 Oct 2008 #

    I was a fairly obsessive Floyd fan up the age of 16 (I have their autographs, from the 74 tour Mike refers to above, though somehow missed shy Rick Wright) but lost interest around WYWH. Good title song, nice to see Roy Harper get a cameo but the whole album was based around a song already played to death on bootleg and the subject was far more interesting than the song. At the time, I saw this as a novelty hit but I still bought it cheap when it left the charts and, while training to be a teacher, twenty odd years ago, naively played it to a bunch of 13 year olds. Chaos, needless to say, ensued. ‘Comfortably Numb’ is, presumably, the last great Floyd song, and I first heard their version at Live8 too. Now, anybody for a thread about the overlooked greatness of ‘Atom Heart Mother’ and Ron Geesin’s influence on the Floyd?

  37. 37
    Tom on 12 Oct 2008 #

    Just a quick note to say that the first number one of the 80s might not be up for a day or two – I have a big backlog of other writing to sort out – but I will get the 79 poll up tomorrow so there’ll be something to look at.

  38. 38
    Erithian on 13 Oct 2008 #

    Just to share something with y’all… a few years later I had a friend who had spent some time at the peace camp at Greenham Common, and she told me the wimmin there had their own take on ABITW:
    “I ain’t got no education…
    I ain’t got no thought control…
    US Air Force Base Commander…
    Is my one important role…
    HEY! BRITAIN! Leave the Cruise alone!”

    (I might have imagined that last line or been inspired by the Barron Knights’ version, but the rest is kosher.)

  39. 39
    Mark G on 13 Oct 2008 #

    “Christmas Turkey – You can stuff it!”

    Maybe the last of the Barron Knights’ contemporaneous ones?

  40. 40
    mike on 13 Oct 2008 #

    The last Barron Knights single I can remember: “Buffalo Bill’s Last Scratch”, which grafted Keith Harris & Orville onto Malcolm McLaren & the World’s Famous Supreme Team…

  41. 41
    Mark G on 13 Oct 2008 #

    .. which neither of whom got to number one, so won’t trouble Popular folk.

    ok, let’s go off on a tangent..

    I remember penning a “Smith’s version of Orville’s song” which went something like….

    (Imagine Heaven knows I’m backing…)

    I wish I could fly right up to the sky but I can’t
    I ought to pretend my sadness will end but I shant..

    (chorus a bit like William it was..)
    Orrrrville, nothing you do or say
    could change the way
    I feel about you..
    Orrrville, who is your very best Friennnnnn
    (sudden clang of an end chord a’la William, again)

    Hmm.. top tune pop pickers?

  42. 42
    DJ Punctum on 13 Oct 2008 #


    It has taken a LOT of persuading for me to continue posting here after the unpleasant, stressful Friday that I experienced on this board.

    To be precise I am only resuming posting here because my wife Lena has asked me to do so. She is 100% of the reason why I am doing so and as far as I’m concerned I’m writing things for her to read rather than anybody else.

    I have not read any of the subsequent comments since my last post, nor do I wish to do so, since it would be a source of major stress to have to dig out the few nuggets of high-level debate and comment from within the undoubted morass of pseudo-lectures and unearned finger wagging on the part of the dysfunctional people who have made both reading and contributing to Popular barely tolerable.

    Instead my contributions to Popular will in future be confined to direct commentary on the record/artist under examination. I will not engage in any exchanges with any other posters except for those likely to yield the high level of debate which is the reason why I came here in the first place. Nitpicking gliberal inadequates, “friends” who occupy a supposed high moral ground or pointless topic diverters will howl into a void. Genuine information, ideas and insights will happily be exchanged. Agenda-free oneupmanship point scoring will not.

    Without further ado, then, here is what I have to say on “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2).”

    The first impression on looking through these number ones of the 1970s would be that they left no impression, unlike the salad days of the sixties about which we’re repeatedly told; but then look again upon those ‘67-‘69 number ones and, if you didn’t know substantially better, you’d shrug your shoulders ruefully and question any or all of the fuss. I began the seventies as a reasonably enthusiastic primary school toddler who couldn’t stop going on about his holiday in France and Italy the previous summer, and ended it as a deeply worried fifteen-year-old, rejected in love, with the imminent prospect of all the support systems I had hitherto taken for granted – parents, school, friends – disappearing or taken away, and that I could no longer crib my way through life and would have to make my own sense of it; by then it had already long been clear that my notion of “sense” was radically divorced from anyone else’s, but since this was ascribed to the Child Prodigy free pass, no deeper delving was encouraged.

    So maybe it’s appropriate that, where the sixties ended with a tale of childhood bonding which proved permanent and inviolable, even by the ravages of war and fatal reflection, the seventies should end with a clap of black thunder over the factory warren of schools. But that is only part of the story; for the second impression on scanning these dozen or so years of chart-topping singles is one of a black hole of absence. Were we really supposed to believe that culture was shaped by an unruly and unstable procession of unfunny novelty singles, hapless television talent show contestants and keep-the-Woolworths-peace harmless MoR trinkets, that it could so easily and dramatically be punctumised by the transient explosions of glam, soul, disco and punk?

    Did anyone see Frank Cottrell Boyce’s God On Trial drama on BBC2 recently? If you did not, I urge you to seek it out on iPlayer (if the BBC have been wise enough to archive it online). Not that I wish to compare Roger Waters’ schooldays with a heated debate on the part of Auschwitz inmates as to whether or not God had abandoned the Jewish people and broken his troth with them, in the face of the death camps, since that is a comparison which perhaps only Waters would risk making, even if his own source of pain – the death of his father in WWII – is another, if substantially lesser, side of the same immense coin.

    You notice Antony Sher immediately, of course; he wouldn’t be there were it to be presumed that he was not to be noticed. You see him firstly as a Rabbi, fervently and largely silently praying, as head of a new intake of inmates. For the first 70 minutes of the 90 minutes of this drama, he is silent. You see him being taken to the camp barber and having his hair and beard roughly shorn; and then in camp uniform, cropped and cut, glaring intently and somewhat suspiciously at the debate as it proceeds. He says nothing, but we cannot say that he is not there. And sure enough, the last ten minutes are set aside for his final, crowning outburst, a magnificent and shattering setpiece of hurting damnation. It is as if the whole of the preceding seventy minutes had been mere preparation for his summary.

    On a clearly lesser level, Sher’s performance is comparable to the impact that Pink Floyd having the last number one of the seventies had, the most dramatic and least expected of all chart comebacks, and a far more shocking one than Rolf Harris’. Only Zeppelin really rival the Floyd for the title of seventies singles chart white elephant; their absence was deliberate, perhaps even a huge reprimand to the singles chart for (in some eyes) running out of ambition and scope. The money was to be made in albums and tours; singles weren’t really necessary, commercially or otherwise, at least not in Britain – perhaps the Floyd took one look at the 1973 of Judge Dread and Millican and Nesbitt and concluded that there was no place for them there at all. Or you were like the Who or Yes or ELP, who occasionally tossed out singles, though these were palpably of low priority – did anyone salivate in anticipation of the release of “Squeeze Box” or “Wondrous Stories”?

    But then the Floyd weren’t really thinking in terms of pop, that aspect having been mostly sidetracked following the exit of Syd. Apart from a quickly-withdrawn, wonderful third single, Barrett’s “Apples And Oranges,” “Another Brick In The Wall” was the first Pink Floyd single release in Britain since “See Emily Play.” They must have known the reproach which their absence from the Top 40 represented; by the end of 1979, Dark Side Of The Moon was well into its sixth year of life on both the British and American album charts. And where stood Pink Floyd if they could not be big? A work like Dark Side could only be viable as an extended Grand Gesture – three years after punk was supposed to have wiped them out, even if many, including myself, could argue that they anticipated and practically invented much of what was great about punk and especially post-punk – there they stood, imperturbable; but then, is that last adjective applicable to the blackened thrashing of 1977’s Animals, a record as punk rock in attitude and application as anything else from that year, or The Wall, a huge, never-grander gesture of a double album where, following on from the hushed homilies of Dark Side, we see Roger Waters detonating the same moods of dislocation, dissatisfaction at the Modern World, and deliberate encasing of souls from the mass of humanity, in ways which were meant to enrage rather than soothe.

    I have to state at this juncture that as far as I am concerned Pink Floyd have a permanent NO CRITICAL TRESPASSING sign fixed on their gate; those of us who grew up on Soft Machine and Roy Harper and Carla Bley, who know the history, who know the marvels which Dark Side Of The Moon in particular enabled, what it summed up and what it promised, can never turn against it, much as the band’s post-1983 work causes incrementally increasing sighs of impatience.

    Some had problems working out how The Wall fit into 1979, disregarding Thatcher’s victory. Had not Gary Numan and Joy Division begun to express alienation (“Me, I Disconnect From You,” “She’s Lost Control”) in a far more succinct and expressionist way than Waters was managing? But I bought the album, loved it, memorised it, saw the stage show at Earl’s Court the following summer, despite the Mod Revival and 2-Tone and post-punk in general – and when you’re sixteen and you feel out of step with practically the whole of the rest of the world, the notion of a group, an artist, progressively screening themselves away from their audience seemed attractive and hugely understandable. The gasp and the subsequent long silence after Waters inserted the last brick, upon singing “Goodbye Cruel World” – I was there on the second night – are things I have yet to dismiss from my mind.

    Now of course I see all the joins, but I still haven’t got rid of and will never get rid of The Wall, with its antiquated rants against The System – but there’s the question of why such rants should be considered “antiquated.” And also the far greater questions of: why was “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” released as a single, complete with Gerald Scarfe-directed video (since child labour laws prevented the Islington Green School Children’s Choir from appearing on TOTP, which was recorded in the evening) and how it managed to become not only 1979’s Christmas number one, but also the last number one of the decade?

    Perhaps EMI may have insisted on some minimal promotion; after all, Animals had sold comparatively indifferently. But it was undoubtedly a stunning gesture for the last number one of that decade – effectively, the last word – to come so thunderously from such a major group who had made such a point of saying next to nothing in that context since 1967. To hear the dolorous, doomladen baritone of Waters sinisterly intoning “We don’t need no education” – spot the steamroller irony – was a genuine shock; it sounded like a bolt of damnation from the gods; no rueful Rolf shaking his head here. And then there’s the children’s choir with its unveiled threats of “Hey, teacher, leave us kids alone!” – the most startling use of a children’s choir in rock since Reed’s “The Kids.” In the video they are shot in half-light, in a darkened enclosure; they appear feral.

    And yet…and yet and yet it is POP, it is history – I’ll leave it to Lena to join some important dots there – and it is direly danceable; Bob Ezrin had “Stayin’ Alive” in mind when he mixed the track for 45 release (and those scratching their heads looking for a connection have forgotten about Odessa). Eventually, the song gives way to perhaps the least ironic guitar solo on any pop record – and there are reasons why Gilmour’s solo has to be there, see above – and, on the album version, the song leads directly into the Scots-accented Waters we hadn’t heard since Ummagumma (or Music From The Body if you knew your Ron Geesin) hysterically screaming at his intake “How can you have any pudding if ye don’t eat yir MEAT?” But then, think of the heavily underscored subtext which ploughs through everything from Dark Side onwards, up to and undoubtedly including The Wall; at the end it all comes back to Syd, Syd, Syd, the Syd who by the end of 1979 had already long since retreated to Cambridge and the basement of his mother’s house, the Syd who could have wreaked his own revolution in the ‘70s had he been so inclined – and then, finally, we think of Alan Parker’s film of The Wall, with a mute Geldof playing Waters playing Barrett, staring blankly at the television screen – do electric friends talk anymore? – and perhaps we can then understand, not only why “I Don’t Like Mondays” is so bombastic and jejeune an essay in comparison with “Another Brick,” but also why the real Geldof reacted differently to what he saw on his TV screen a couple of years later, and therefore the necessarily more pragmatic approach and response which the eighties would be largely compelled to adopt…wherever that left the music. Or I could leave it with the infinitely happier postscript that the song subsequently became an unlikely anthem for the freedom fighters of South Africa. Yes, let’s leave it like that.

  43. 43
    Mark G on 13 Oct 2008 #


  44. 44
    SteveM on 13 Oct 2008 #

    booing your own lyrics mark? not a good sign!

  45. 45
    Mark G on 13 Oct 2008 #

    You want a good sign? Hmmf: (looks on googleimgs…)

  46. 46
    Tom on 13 Oct 2008 #

    “It has taken a LOT of persuading for me to continue posting here after the unpleasant, stressful Friday that I experienced on this board.

    To be precise I am only resuming posting here because my wife Lena has asked me to do so. She is 100% of the reason why I am doing so and as far as I’m concerned I’m writing things for her to read rather than anybody else.

    I have not read any of the subsequent comments since my last post, nor do I wish to do so, since it would be a source of major stress to have to dig out the few nuggets of high-level debate and comment from within the undoubted morass of pseudo-lectures and unearned finger wagging on the part of the dysfunctional people who have made both reading and contributing to Popular barely tolerable.

    Instead my contributions to Popular will in future be confined to direct commentary on the record/artist under examination. I will not engage in any exchanges with any other posters except for those likely to yield the high level of debate which is the reason why I came here in the first place. Nitpicking gliberal inadequates, “friends” who occupy a supposed high moral ground or pointless topic diverters will howl into a void. Genuine information, ideas and insights will happily be exchanged. Agenda-free oneupmanship point scoring will not.”

    Sorry Marcello, it’s not up to you any more. As far as I’m concerned this hysterical grandstanding marks the end of your comments on my blog. I’ve let you derail threads with your tantrums often enough, to the point where you’re making my doing this less fun. When that happens it’s time to call a halt. I’ve had enough of you, you’ve clearly had enough of the community, time to part ways.

    I can’t ban you without us re-shaping the whole comments infrastructure and making it harder for everyone to post. But replies to this, and future posts from you, will be deleted.

  47. 47
    Tom on 13 Oct 2008 #

    (In fact, I’m closing this comments thread for a while. Other posters wanting to discuss this should email me.)

  48. 48
    Tom on 20 Oct 2008 #

    (Thread now re-opened! Sorry, meant to do this when I put BiP up but I kept forgetting)

  49. 49
    Mark G on 20 Oct 2008 #

    Apart from a quickly-withdrawn, wonderful third single, Barrett’s “Apples And Oranges,” “Another Brick In The Wall” was the first Pink Floyd single release in Britain since “See Emily Play.”

    Well, there was “Point me at the sky”, the only post syd single before “ABITW”, it got nowhere, and all those big important bands whos messages were far too important to have to compete against ooh, Showaddywaddy, or the Bay City Rollers, or all that, opted to go for No Singles, No daytime airplay, and isolationism.

  50. 50
    wichita lineman on 20 Oct 2008 #

    Led Zeppelin had a no singles policy because Peter Grant reasoned people would happily fork out for the whole album to hear Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven. Gotta have money in the bank, Frank!

    At least Free, Jethro Tull, and Genesis countered this trend, which made K-Tel/Ronco/Arcade comps all the more fun.

    Outside the UK, though, the heavy worthies had singles released (Floyd’s Money, countless Zep), presumably against their will.

  51. 51
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 20 Oct 2008 #

    yes also released singles now and then — “going for the one”, the clue is in the name!

    mike oldfield made a special point of writing songs precisely for singles release, that weren’t gathered on LP till much later

    i think this claim has become a but of an-overgeneralised anti-prog calumny actually: a lot of prog ideology , so-called, is really actually just the inadvertent photonegative of the positions being taken by the younger-sibling movement jostling for prog’s position of “seriousness in rock” (punks said and did this because prog “didn’t” — but there was never a “prog partyline”)

    (indeed you could probably still start arguments on eg ilx by claiming that PF or zep ARE prog!)

  52. 52
    wichita lineman on 22 Oct 2008 #

    The new Record Collector has a nicely timed Floyd singles feature. Give Birth To A Smile from The Body was a 45 in the Phillipines. Never heard it, but I’m guessing it didn’t press the same radio-friendly buttons as ABITW. Or even Apples And Oranges.

    I once heard, but have no confirmation, that there was no album pressing plant in the Phillipines so some verrry odd singles got released.

    As for Prog albums/singles debate, it was an album genre whereas Punk was def a singles genre. No? I’ve got a “45” of Roundabout by Yes which plays at 33 and can only be heard if it’s cranked up to 11 – doesn’t work.

    Led Zeppelin are the only Underground (is that a catch-all that includes Prog?) group who can be confirmed as not releasing singles for ideological (ie money making, mystique building) reasons. Unless anyone knows different?

  53. 53
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 22 Oct 2008 #

    an admittedly quick skim thru the progrography reveals that the Usual Suspects — inc. zep!! — all released singles from time to time (Crimson probbly with the least alacrity)…


  54. 54
    mike on 22 Oct 2008 #

    Well, “Opium For The People” was a single, so that sort-of counts. There was also “Ooby Scooby Doomsday”, which was recorded for single release (with the express aim of having a Top 40 hit… AS IF) but never issued.

  55. 55
    lonepilgrim on 6 Feb 2009 #

    there’s an interesting article by a sometime contributer about tha floyd here:


    ..he does’nt think much about the wall mind you..

  56. 56
    JonnyB on 24 Apr 2009 #

    Golly. What a thread.

    What can I add? Bob Ezrin was brought in to stop Waters and Gilmour killing each other, or at the very least to mediate and help the less-musically articulate bass player realise his vision. Every interview with Roger Waters I’ve ever read has given the impression that he knows nothing whatsoever about other popular music and isn’t particularly interested – he likes words, he likes ideas and concepts, he likes making an impression. Gilmour has proved subsequently that he has a weakness for the technology and overproduction. Bob Ezrin thus got his leeway, and amongst other things took the fairly rudimentary ‘Wall’ theme and suggested one of the versions of it on the album (there are three, plus other snatches of the theme) is played to a straight disco beat. The childrens’ choir didn’t come from the band – it was recorded and played to them later, spliced in as the second verse. The double album was cocking expensive, so the promotion of a single would help with this.

    So no great design. Nothing worth great analysis; no hidden agenda. A great pop song, like many of the others featured in this series.

    The guitar solo, for me, is fantastic. It’s beautifully played and has this incredibly light touch. And what makes it is the chords underneath, anchored by that bass that doesn’t move an inch.

    I guess I’ve always thought ‘The Wall’ is the Pink Floyd album for people who don’t like Pink Floyd. Certainly I thought and still think that about Comfortably Numb (a song I still quite like) – now THAT’S a teeth-clenching solo. Dark Side of the Moon is a fantastic record, although it’s not fashionable at the moment. Whether people like them or not, they’ve always been a terrifically interesting band.

  57. 57
    MikeMCSG on 15 Jul 2009 #

    Ironic that this was the number one going into the 80s the decade when public school lefties such as Waters (the Tony Benn of rock music) were to become deeply unfashionable and disliked.

  58. 58
    pink floyd lover on 30 Jul 2009 #

    looki agree whit you abut the it is an attack to the studing sistemBUT IS TRUE THE SISTEM NEEDS TO CHANGE BECAUSE IN THAT TIME THE TEACHERS AND THEY KEEP BEEN SO RUDE WHIT THE KIDS so you need to understand that fucker and to the closed minds like you can take wrong the message of the music ok
    fuck you

  59. 59
    Tom on 31 Jul 2009 #

    This is what happens when the teachers leave them kids alone :(

  60. 60
    thefatgit on 5 Oct 2009 #

    Speaking as a fan of Pink Floyd, I felt I had to comment. I was 13 when this reached the top of the charts. I couldn’t have been happier to see my favourite group at the top. However, this particular track off The Wall was the weakest track. Yes, it had resonance with school-age kids like myself, although it failed to knock School’s Out off it’s school disco perch for it’s morose dead disco feel. Imagine dancing to Staying Alive (constantly popular at our school disco nights) then hearing Mason’s flat beat cut in followed by Roger Waters vocal. Way to kill the mood Mr DJ! This was when I realised why my Beloved Floyd were an album band. This was bedroom disco then, laying on my bed, tapping my foot against my headboard, secretly raging against the injustices of my school day. I wanted to love this single, but even in my bedroom, this felt like going through the motions. I was infinitely more satisfied with the album as a whole and even then much more inclined to spin Wish You Were Here or Dark Side Of The Moon and escape to that place inside my head where nothing at all mattered. If anything, I longed for a fearsome teacher at my school that resembled that eye-popping hammerhead from the video. None of my teachers inspired anything more than disdain. Would my school experience be different if any of my teachers yelled “YOU…YES YOU!! STAND STILL LADDIE!!!” in my direction?

    After giving this track another listen, I feel this represents the beginning of Pink Floyd’s downhill journey. The following albums lacked the magnitude of their pe-Wall output (Ummagumma aside). I prefer a period from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, where their creative force was all pervading. A new release from Pink Floyd was an event in my house, as both my parents were fans as well. I know you’re supposed to rebel against your parents’ taste in music, but that moment would come much, much later. ABITWP2 was accepted for what it was, a part of The Last Great Concept Album of The Seventies. And so it remains.

  61. 61
    Andy Pandy on 6 Oct 2009 #

    Good comment -I was 14 when this came out and although I bought “The Wall” at the time have gradually realised that for me “Wish You Were Here” was the last classic and I haven’t really liked anything I’ve heard by them since (to be honest I havent heard much stuff after “The Wall”). And I find “Animals” so execrable that it marks a nice neat dividing line between the peereless stuff from 1967-75 and the rest.
    PS I even like “Ummagumma” even the live stuff and I don’t usually like live albums at all.

  62. 62
    lonepilgrim on 13 Dec 2009 #

    For fans of the band or the album, here’s a live performance from 1980 – including some songs left off the album.

    I’ve become quite taken with ‘Comfortably Numb’ – particularly the live version with Bowie at the Albert Hall (which, with it’s awesome guitar solos juxtaposed with images of middle-aged geezers (like myself) striking poses, I find quite affecting). I keep meaning to listen to the album as in an age where much pop seems focus-grouped to death it seems like a refreshing contrast to hear something that is characterised by ‘immense bitterness and misanthropy’.

  63. 63
    MildredBumble on 6 Jun 2010 #

    @ 58 pink floyd lover

    So the system needs to change because, apparently according to your all-but-indecipherable rant, the teachers were rude to you. I’ll grant you, the ‘system’ isn’t perfect but it cannot be blamed for the failure of hypocritical, entitled illiterates like you.

  64. 64
    lonepilgrim on 12 Nov 2010 #

    Pink Floyd fans (and others) may want to follow this track-by-track journey through their history:


  65. 65
    lonepilgrim on 12 Dec 2010 #

    Somehow the combination of war memorial and educational protest seems entirely appropriate:

  66. 66
    seekenee on 5 Jun 2011 #

    This was a big record for 9 year old me, but I usually only experienced it as part of The Wall (er, like a brick?) which is my favourite Floyd album probably because I inhaled it so completely at that impressionable age throughout 1980, (ironically it was these rusty dinosaurs who primed me for my fave punk acts which I would soon discover) – can’t say I’ve played the 7” much over the years though it is the only way to hear the opening pre-vocal intro section.

    In fact the instrumental intro and outro are by far more enjoyable than what lies between, the shouty children’s chorus being somewhat unwelcome. Still, it’s the only number one that’s a part of a trilogy of the same song, (isn’t it?) and I saw the singer in Scissor Sisters speaking of its influence on TV once and he gave it its full title i.e. ABITW PART TWO (displaying a level of retentiveness to which I could relate but never consider.)

    ABITW is also an early example of the hit single represented/recalled by the non-performance, artist-free music video (unlike, say, Buggles, funnily enough). This is not necessarily a good thing.

    There was a backlash of sorts I remember re: the lyrics, when Madness released Baggy Trousers they were on an anti-ABITW buzz in some interviews (Smash Hits?) a la teachers and kids all in the same boat..etc.
    I’d give it a seven for guitar solo and (non) groove.

  67. 67
    Mark G on 21 Aug 2012 #

    Syd Sings!


  68. 68
    Erithian on 14 Nov 2013 #

    “I heard this song on the radio, something about “teacher, leave the kids alone”, and it occurred to me even then that at my school it was “kids, leave the poor bloody teachers alone”. So I was trying to redress the balance a bit…” – Suggs.

  69. 69
    punctum on 8 Jan 2014 #

    TPL on the epilogue to The Wall, or perhaps something greater than The Wall: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/pink-floyd-final-cut.html

  70. 70
    Rory on 18 Feb 2014 #

    Worth noting here that some further “Another Brick” discussions have cropped up in the “Mama” thread. (Okay, so it’s mainly me so far. I’m posting this link rather than cross-posting that comment.)

  71. 71
    hectorthebat on 18 Aug 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 4
    Life (USA) – 40 Years of Rock & Roll, 5 Songs for Each Year 1952-91 (Updated 1995)
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    RIAA and NEA (USA) – 365 Songs of the Century (2001) 296
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 375
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 384
    Treble (USA) – The Top 200 Songs of the 1970s (2012) 127
    VH1 (USA) – The 100 Greatest Songs from the Past 25 Years (2003) 15
    Dave Thompson (UK) – 1000 Songs that Rock Your World (2011) 925
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    XFM (UK) – The Top 1000 Songs of All Time (2010)
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 13
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – The 500 Best Songsof All Time (2004) 424
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  72. 72
    Patrick Mexico on 16 Nov 2014 #

    I always mishear this as “Christmas Day… Should we break in the mall?” Which would single-handedly raise this from a 6 to a 10.

  73. 73
    cryptopian on 22 Nov 2015 #

    Even as a big Pink Floyd fan, I’ve never gelled with this one. Maybe it’s the sledgehammer politics, maybe it’s the lack of interesting melody-line. I know that I have an irrational aversion to child choirs, so that certainly doesn’t help. There’s enough here for a 5, but no more for me.

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