Pink Floyd as you never imagined them


Here is a treat for Telegraph listeners, a chance to hear a Pink Floyd classic in the making with a live stream of classic tracks and exclusive demos from The Wall, says Neil McCormick.

Pink Floyd are releasing a massive seven-disc box set of their 1979 classic The Wall. Alongside the remastered original and live albums, it features two fascinating discs of demos, illustrating the music’s transformation from Roger Water’s weird and grizzly lo-fi demos via rough and ready band demos to the highly polished and stylized finished pieces.

Listening to the various strands of ideas coming together lends remarkable insight into the creative process of a band who were fracturing in the studio, with alternative track listings and more organic performances conveying an intriguing sense of different albums that may have emerged from this source material.

It was, of course, the album that effectively destroyed the classic line up of Pink Floyd, with Waters dominating as songwriter and lyricist to the detriment of group harmony. A bold, ambitious and even radical double concept album, it suffers musically from a kind of compression, the verbose lyrics and introverted emotional angst of Waters compromising the band’s usual musical elegance. But its highlights are extraordinary. Telegraph listeners can follow this link to find a stream of remastered classics and demos from The Wall, including Comfortably Numb.

Retailing at £88, this is an expensive treat, but there is a real fascination in watching the emergence of Comfortably Numb. As one part of the box set, you can hear David Gilmour’s original acoustic demo, strumming shimmery guitars and humming what would become the chorus melody, along with another melody that never made it. The Doctor is the next stage in the song’s development, with Waters adding verses with lyrics depicting a physician examining a patient: “What seems to be the trouble? Are we feeling out of sorts?” The classic chorus is in place but this is still a simplistic arrangement of a song in transition, with clumsy verses that would later be amended and crucially lacking the extended ending that would showcase Gilmour’s astonishing guitar solo. Comparing the demo and the finished track lends new respect to the creativity and artistry of all the musicians involved. This is the Floyd as, perhaps, you never imagined you would hear them.

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