Building The Wall and Under Construction – The Wall Demos
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.
A fourth, little-known and even less-discussed preview of The Wall was assembled on Wednesday, October 17, 1979. No track listing is available for this preview. There was a lot of recording, remixing and editing that still needed to be done before the finalized version of the album was sent out for mastering on November 6. Just a guess here, but the Building The Wall bootleg (et al) sounds like it could have been created around this time.
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 and lacks Michael Kamen’s orchestrations. “The Show Must Go On” is a mostly-finished version from the final take. “Hey You” is sequenced in its original slot at the end of Side 3 right after “Comfortably Numb”. “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 recording also features several songs which were cut from the album before release. “Empty Spaces (reprise)/What Shall We do Now?” was still part of the album at the time and was included towards the end of Side 2 just before “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3”. “Is There Anybody Out There?” parts 2 and 3 were still part of the track lineup between “Bring The Boys Back Home” and “The Doctor” (“Comfortably Numb”).
Wall In Progress – 1978-1979 Original Ayanami Records Release
The source of these tapes or how they were leaked is not widely known. The recording started circulating among collectors in 1999 as Pink Floyd – Wall In Progress 1978 – 1979, an unauthorized, limited-edition CD-R release from the Ayanami label (AYANAMI – 045) in Japan. It got a broader “release” in 2001 as Building The Wall on Roaring Mouse records and has 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 or finished.
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, several of these recordings are different takes or edits and are unique to this release. Overall, it is interesting to hear these versions before they were “sanitized” and later 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.
In 2017, a new “remaster” was released on compact disc as The Wall: Work In Progress – Definitive Edition, a Young Lust Production with the catalog number PFW-7879. 1978 and 1979, of course, were the years of the original recording sessions. It’s basically a fan-remastered, cleaned up, slightly edited version of the original Ayanami release. The release sounds like it was produced from the best sources available. While not an exponential improvement in sound quality, the tape hiss of the original release is noticeably diminished, especially in the quieter tracks. You can hear more of the high end in this release — cymbals and other “tshhh” frequencies. Some of the glitches in in the original — dropouts, etc. — have been “fixed” in the edit in this release. In several tracks, the pitch has been dropped slightly, a few cents lower than the release version, which I found annoying and unnecessary. However, there are none of the small cuts that appeared in some of the later releases of the demos.
Building The Wall
Under Construction (The Wall Demos)
01 – The Show (“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 (actually “What Shall We Do Now?” 2:22
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 (actually “Empty Spaces” 1:51)
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 – The Doctor (“Comfortably Numb”) 4:46 *
21 – Hey You 3:56
22 – The Show Must Go On 2:07 *
23 – The Show (“In The Flesh”) 4:31
24 – Run Like Hell 4:58 *
25 – Waiting For The Worms 3:47
26 – Stop 0:35
27 – Trial By Puppets (“The Trial”) 4:57 *
28 – Outside The Wall 1:23 *
Total Time: 73:40
* An asterisk indicates track or edit unique to this release.
Last update: June 24, 2019 with info about Work In Progress – Definitive Edition