About a minute was cut from “In The Flesh?” before release. The movie restores about 20 seconds of the missing parts.
The Wall literally opens with the musical equivalent of a 15 kiloton explosion. If advanced pyrotechnics were music, it would sound like the opening of this album. After a deceptive, very brief, very quiet snippet of “Outside The Wall”, the album opens in earnest with “In The Flesh?”, a blast of angry guitar and ringing drums. Loud and over the top — bombastic is a term often used to describe the track, it almost has a surreal circus feel to it. It’s a dark welcome — and the perfect invitation to go inside of Pink’s story. Regardless of the medium you experience it in — album, film or live, The Wall opens with spectacle on a grand, operatic scale.
“In The Flesh?” was not originally part of Roger Waters’ original demo tapes and was added to the story between the first and second production demos, January 9, 1979 – March 23, 1979. Originally, it was a tune that opened from The Pros & Cons of Hitch Hiking, the Roger Waters demo that the band passed on in favor of The Wall. Waters used the main chord sequence and melody for the track. He explained how this came about,
“When we were recording The Wall, I needed a melody suddenly because it was developing as a theatrical idea. I thought, “hang on a minute, there’s one in The Pros and Cons.” You could take it out of its quiet self and treat it very monolithically and bombastically and it would sound completely different and it might work. So I tried it and it did work in its new context. But for me it never lost its identity as this quiet, dreamy tune that was the beginning of Pros and Cons.
“Actually, I make the reference later on, in the middle of side two, at the end of ‘Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin’, when the truck driver is throwing the hero out of his cab. I get the orchestra to play it and it resolves to E minor, so we actually do play it once like ‘In The Flesh’, which is just… a joke… for people who remember The Wall.”
On Pros and Cons, you can hear the distinct musical phrase starting at about 2m 52s into “4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncan, Dunlivin)”.
During production of The Wall, its working title was “The Show, Part I”. This was used until at least October 9, 1979 — about one month before the album was completed. Because the track listing for the Pros and Cons demo has never been published, it is unknown whether this was the original title of the track or not.
By October 26, 1979, the title had been changed to “In The Flesh?”, a probable reference to the 1977 Pink Floyd tour in which Roger Waters infamously spat on a member of the audience — an incident which was a key motivation for Waters to write The Wall.
Rick Wright did not play organ on either of the studio versions of this track. According to David Gilmour, “Rick for some reason wouldn’t get his elbow on the keyboards.” He was replaced by session musician Freddie Mandel who tears up that Hammond organ throughout the track. Recording of Rick’s performance can be heard in the demo versions on the Work In Progress discs of the Immersion set.
On the album for both parts of the song, Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Toni Tennille from the Captain and Tennille were among the vocalists who sang for the backup chorus for the track.
In an album loaded with leitmotifs, this track is one of many recurring musical themes throughout and a track which gets reprised later on in the story. A darker, more sinister reprise called “In The Flesh” (no question mark) can be heard well into the album on Side 4. The lyrics of the song’s reprise mention a “surrogate band” in a thinly-veiled attack at audiences of large stadium shows, most of whom would not be able to tell if the original band were in fact the performers on stage — or for that matter, care. To highlight the point, during the original Pink Floyd The Wall Live shows, “In The Flesh?” was not performed by Pink Floyd, but by alternate musicians wearing lifelike Pink Floyd masks.
In both original Pink Floyd and recent Roger Waters live shows, a half-scale model of a World War II Spitfire airplane flies itself into the wall onstage and explodes into flames at the end of the song.
Here’s a restored version of “In The Flesh?” with Gilmour’s missing guitar phrases added back in from the best available source:
What Got Cut
- 8-bar musical section toward the beginning of the intro, in 12/8 time. It would have been the second instance of the opening guitar theme and riff. Right about the 37 second mark into the album version is where this phrase would have gone.
- 16-bars between the main instrumental theme and the vocals–that’s about 38 seconds. It’s a softer section with a guitar scale in 6/8 time as and includes chorus background vocals. This would have been at about 1m 34s into the track. You can still hear remnants of it behind Roger Waters’ vocals.
The cut 8-bar guitar riff from the intro is in just about every other version except the studio album. You can hear this repeat instance of the phrase on the live version of “In The Flesh?” that’s found on Is There Anybody Out There?. A good quality (and very loud) studio version can be found on the Pink Floyd The Wall movie soundtrack.
The film version was rerecorded with Bob Geldof, who played Pink in the film, on lead vocals, but the part you’re listening for kicks in well before the new vocals do. The pitch of the recording from the film is just a little bit lower than the album version. Otherwise, musically the instrumentation is basically the same. Mastering of many of the film versions of the songs is also pretty flat, compressed and loud compared to the album versions and you can really hear noticeably more presence in the cymbals in this track.
The quieter 16-bar chorus section can be heard in its early, proto-form on Pink Floyd The Wall – Work In Progress from the Immersion edition. It’s listed as “In The Flesh [Demo]” but at the time of its recording, it was still referred to internally as “The Show, Part 1”. This version contains a quiet guitar bed, but the chorus vocals haven’t been added yet. You can hear the missing phrase at about 1m 35s in the demo version. The full studio version of this phrase — guitar, vocals and all — is intact elsewhere on The Wall album. It can still be heard in the track “In The Flesh” at about 1m 17s into the track.
All in all, “In The Flesh?” would have been about a minute longer were it not for all of the cuts.
Pink Floyd The Wall – Work In Progress from Pink Floyd The Wall: Immersion edition. An early, rough, bare version from pre-release production demo tapes made by the band. The basics are there. Nick Mason’s drum tracks have been recorded by this time and are pretty much locked for this track. The basics of David Gilmour’s guitar phrasing are there, but none of the “flair” has been recorded yet. This version can also be found on the ROIO Under Construction (or Building The Wall, Wall In Progress 1978-1979 and The Wall Demos — they are the same recordings) except in much poorer quality.
Is There Anybody Out There?. The official live album of the original The Wall Live tour in 1980. Live versions of all songs. Many of them are extended or have some of the bits which were cut from the original studio LP of The Wall.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). Has the extra 8-bar guitar section, but not the extra choral section. Features re-recorded vocals by Bob Geldof. There are also a lot of added sound effects for the film. The Hammond organ crescendo in the bridge is much louder and more present in this mix. Nice!
Last updated: September 10, 2017