Building The Wall and Under Construction – The Wall Demos
Building The Wall (or Under Construction (The Wall Demos) — same thing) is a 2001 release from Roaring Mouse records. It is an unauthorized bootleg collection of production demo tracks from later production mixes.
Three of these internal working rough cuts were created at various points in production — the first dated January 9, 1979; the second dated March 23, 1979; the third dated August 11-12, 1979. These were used by the artists and producers as a snapshot to see how the songs, story, and ideas were gelling at given times throughout the recording process.
The recordings on these bootlegs appear to come from an intermediate working rough cut created sometime later in 1979 around the time of the third official production demo. It’s a mix of tracks that’s mostly comprised of working versions of songs from the second and third production “demos” but also includes some tracks which could only have been recorded after the August 1979 demo. For instance, “Run Like Hell (instrumental)” is a different, later take than the version released on the Work In Progress discs of the Immersion set. Here it sounds less like a jingly disco single and closer to the release version. Although it lacks vocals, you can hear that this version is the music bed of the final take with its overall sound, urgency, and menace. The final mixdown hasn’t been completed here and you can hear subtle differences throughout the mix. The versions of “Is There Anybody Out There?” are from the earlier second band demo. “The Trial” is the piano version from the second band demo. “The Show Must Go One” is a mostly-finished version from the final take. “Nobody Home” is missing altogether from this recording as it was the last track written for the album and wasn’t recorded until October.
The source of these tapes or how they were leaked is not widely known. The recording first appeared on an unauthorized, limited-edition, 1,000-copy CD-R release from the Ayanami label in Japan and started circulating among collectors in 1999. It got a broader “release” in 2001 as Building The Wall on Roaring Mouse records. It’s been copied and “rereleased” several times in multiple formats since. It’s also been released as Under Construction (The Wall Demos), The Wall Demos, The First Few Bricks and a few other names. They are basically the same recording, although the audio quality varies and some copies have been edited slightly.
Despite what the liner notes say on many of the releases, this is not Roger Waters’ original Bricks In The Wall demo tape but it is still an important musical document in its own right. You can hear parts of Roger’s original demo in this recording, but I think they are only there as placeholders in the story — holding the spots, so to speak, until the band versions were recorded.
The sound quality is surprisingly good for a bootleg of this nature. It is definitely not perfect or commercial-quality. It sounds like it was mastered from a cassette tape that was several generations away from the source recording. The dynamic range is compressed and the recorded signal drops off quickly at about 16,000Hz. Like a cliff.
Although many of these tracks were later released in higher quality on The Wall: Immersion edition, there are still a good number of unique versions here. Overall, it is interesting to hear these versions before they were “sanitized” and cleaned up for public consumption.
If you can find a copy (and they’re pretty easy to find in an online search), it is definitely worth a listen. Consider it the missing third CD of The Wall: Work In Progress from the Immersion set.
From the liner notes:
Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) stands as one of Pink Floyd’s greatest achievements, as well of one of the greatest achievements in rock music and live concert production. The album spawned a tour, a film, a book of the film (now quite collectible), and eventually an all-star revival concert in Berlin, and finally in 1999 a double live album.
But before The Wall was a film, a concert, or even an album, The Wall was just an idea… an idea under construction. The Wall went through at least two “demo” stages. The first was a crude recording of Roger Waters strumming his guitar and singing alone. Presented by Waters at the same time as another concept called The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Waters’ first demo -still uncirculated even today – was deemed unlistenable by the rest of the band, but they felt it had potential. The Hitchhiking demo was set aside, but The Wall demo was developed further.
Many writing sessions later, Pink Floyd – probably with assistance from Bob Ezrin – recorded a second, more complete demo. The lyrics were not polished, and neither was the music. Thankfully, lyrics like “I am a physician/ who can handle your condition/ like a magician” would be entirely discarded and rewritten before the songs were finally committed to tape in a studio, But the rough lyrics and the risky musical experiments which appeared in that second demo have finally made it to the public.
Building The Wall
Under Construction (The Wall Demos)
01 – In The Flesh? 3:22
02 – The Thin Ice 2:37
03 – Another Brick In The Wall 1 3:28
04 – The Happiest Days Of Our Lives 1:29
05 – Another Brick In The Wall 2 2:03
06 – Mother 4:36
07 – Goodbye Blue Sky 2:11
08 – Empty Spaces 1:51
09 – Young Lust 3:32
10 – One Of My Turns 2:26
11 – Don’t Leave Me Now 3:54
12 – What Shall We Do Now? 2:22
13 – Another Brick In The Wall 3 1:25
14 – Goodbye Cruel World 1:02
15 – Is There Anybody Out There? 1 0:53
16 – Vera 1:17
17 – Bring The Boys Back Home 0:42
18 – Is There Anybody Out There? 2 1:19
19 – Is There Anybody Out There? 3 2:01
20 – Comfortably Numb 4:46
21 – Hey You 3:56
22 – The Show Must Go On 2:07
23 – In The Flesh 4:31
24 – Run Like Hell 4:58
25 – Waiting For The Worms 3:47
26 – Stop 0:35
27 – The Trial 4:57
28 – Outside The Wall 1:23
Total Time: 73:40