“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control….”
The public got its first glimpse into Pink Floyd’s Wall when “Another Brick In the Wall, Part 2” was released as the first single on November 16, 1979 about two weeks prior to the album’s release. The single was released several weeks later in the US on January 8, 1980. It quickly topped the singles charts in nearly every country of its release. It was Pink Floyd’s only single to top the charts.
The track goes all the way back to the original demo where it was called “Brick 2: Education”. The song’s title evolved often throughout the album’s production. Versions of it can be heard on The Wall – Work In Progress and any of the ROIO demo albums. It’s definitely worth seeking out to hear the evolution this classic track.
The final track ended up sounding much different from the original demo and production versions. Most of the early recorded versions had only one verse and one chorus; the song also lacked its signature disco beat. It had a running time of about 1:45 and sounded downbeat and dark — very much like “Another Brick, Part 1” in sound and feel. The song caught co-producer Bob Ezrin’s ear, however, and he knew it would be a hit when he first heard it. Ezrin later recalled,
“[I told the band] That’s too short. We need it as a single. It’s a smash, and we have to have it.”
Roger Waters wouldn’t write any additional verses, so Ezrin came up with a creative solution which resulted in one of rock’s most iconic tracks.
“[If] you listen, you’ll realize it’s the same verse and chorus twice. I copied it, edited it together, and sent it across to England to the Arts High School around the corner from the studio. We recorded these kids in the stairwells. Having done [Alice Cooper’s] “School’s Out”, I knew the effect of kids, particularly in anything that has to do with school! I played it for Roger as a surprise, and the grin on his face was unbelievable. From that point on, not only did he get it, but I think he probably believed it was his idea in the first place!”
In a 1982 interview, David Gilmour recalled the recording and production of the song, as well as how it evolved:
It was originally a very short song. There was going to be a quick guitar solo and that was it. There was only one verse ever recorded and we put the solo stuff on the end. Roger and myself sang the verse and then we thought we’d try getting some kids to sing on it. I made up a backing track with a sync pulse up on it so we could later sneak it back in with the original track. We were in L.A. at the time, so I sent the tape to England and got an engineer to summon some kids. I gave him a whole set of instructions – ten-to-fifteen-year-olds from North London, mostly boys – and I said get them to sing this song in as many ways as you like. And he filled up all the tracks on a 24-track machine with stereo pairs of all the different combinations and ways of singing with all these kids. We got the tape back to L.A., played it, and it was terrific.
Originally, we were going to put them in the background, behind Roger and me singing on the same verse. But it was so good we decided to do them on their own. But we didn’t want to lose our vocal. So we wound up copying the tape and mixing it twice, one with me and Roger singing and one with the kids. The backing is the same. And we edited them together.
The single version runs about 3:11. The album version clocks in at about 3:59. There was never an extended version of the track released, which is surprising given the trend of disco-era hit songs to also be released as an extended, disco single on 12″ vinyl. Since its release, radio has usually programmed the track preceded by “Happiest Days Of Our Lives”, giving the combined tracks a running time of about 5:50.
What Got Cut
• Nothing, although there are alternate single versions
“Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)/One Of My Turns” 7″ single (1979). (3:11) The single version has a short 9-second, 4-bar rhythm guitar and drum intro before the initial lyric, adding a few seconds to the beginning of the song. This intro appears in none of the demo versions. I don’t think this section was cut from the track, but added later. Because of how the album version segues from “Happiest Days Of Our Lives” before it, I think the intro was added more to give radio DJs 0:09 to hit the post. The single fades out early during the guitar solo.
In the U.S., this single is pressed on crappy Columbia Records 7″ single styrene where the grooves seem to wear out before the stylus drops. Expect a lot of noise from the record itself.
A Collection Of Great Dance Songs compilation. (3:48) Like the single, this version includes the 4-bar rhythm intro, but also includes the longer playground ending of the studio version. It fades out just before the telephone sounds of the segue into “Mother”. This version can still be found on CD or digital download – A Collection of Great Dance Songs – Pink Floyd.
Is There Anybody Out There?. (6:19) The official live album of the original The Wall tour in 1980. The live version features an extended solo by guitarist Snowy White and an organ solo by Richard Wright.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). Edited and shortened pretty heavily. A lot of sound effects added over the top of the music. Additional lines of verse 2 added over the guitar solo. Cold ending created from the track. Nothing new added here, just a reuse of existing material that works better within the context of the film.
Last updated: October 17, 2016