Tear down the wall!” Co-Producer Bob Ezrin shared a writing credit for helping to transform the track from its original very dark tone into a big, over-the-top theatrical finale.
The wall is too high, too impenetrable. A lifetime of shutting the ones who love him out have become too much of a load to bear and Pink judges himself in “The Trial”. Many of the characters who helped build his wall throughout the course of the album make another appearance here. Verses are sung in the voices of The Teacher, The Wife, and Mother as they present their “evidence”. Conspicuously absent is Pink’s Father, who although he’s one of the biggest bricks, never had a proper voice in the album.
“The Trial” is a big, operatic, over-the-top piece that’s the musical and narrative climax of the album. It’s a critical piece in the structure of The Wall and goes all the way back to Waters’ original demo, Bricks In The Wall. From inception throughout production, it was called “Trial by Puppet”. The title was changed during its final mixdown around October 29, 1979, shortly before the album was sent out for mastering.
The music is mostly orchestral, arranged and conducted by Michael Kamen, until Gilmour’s buzzsaw of a guitar and Nick Mason’s heavy drums come crashing in at about two-thirds into the song as The Judge makes his appearance. It was written as an homage to the early 20th century operettas of Kurt Weill & Bertholdt Brecht. Give The Threepenny Opera a listen to hear the influence.
A short 0:35 snippet of Waters’ original demo recording of “Trial by Puppet” can be heard on the Work In Progress disc on the Immersion edition. Musically, it’s much different from the version that was released. The overall tone ranges from dark and sinister to downright surreal. Rather than being an underlying leitmotif within the music, the “Bricks Theme” is more prevalent throughout as the verses are sung as a reprise of the iconic 8-note musical phrase.
A small lyric change was made at the last minute after the album artwork has been sent out for print. In the last verse of the album version, The Judge says
“Since my friend you have revealed your deepest fear,
I sentence you to be exposed before your peers.”
The lyrics printed on the inner sleeve read “But my friend you have revealed your deepest fear….” The word “But” was used throughout production. Waters reverted back to it for the original live versions of The Wall. This difference can be heard on Is There Anybody Out There?
What Got Cut
- A few seconds at the fade-in of the track. Extended versions were created for the live shows and the film.
Is There Anybody Out There?.The official live album of the original The Wall 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. Here, the intro fades in a little sooner underneath “Stop” and you can barely hear an additional 4 bars before starting into the main instrumental intro in earnest.
The entire 32-bar section of the outro with the repeated chants of “Tear down the wall…” repeats once, adding about 25 seconds of length to the track.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). Featured remixed, reedited, and in some cases rerecorded versions of the original album recordings. 16 bars or almost 13 seconds were cut from the instrumental intro of the movie version of “The Trial”.
The outro of the film was extended significantly to accommodate the visual montage that showed onscreen as the chants of “Tear down the wall” slowly fade out. The entire 32-bar phrase of the outro repeats once, then repeats again for another 16 bars before completely fading out, adding over 38 seconds the tail end to the track. Unlike the album and live versions, the wall is destroyed after several seconds of silence in the film version.
The extended outro was not in any of the demo versions and was most likely added to the live version and movie version to heighten the drama and tension of the wall’s destruction.
Last update: April 1, 2017