On this day in music history: November 30, 1979 – “The Wall”, the eleventh album by Pink Floyd is released (US release date is on December 8, 1979). Produced by Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters, it is recorded at Super Bear Studios, Studio Miraval in La Val, France, CBS 30th Street Studios in New York City, The Village Recorder, Cherokee Studios and The Producers Workshop in Los Angeles, CA from January – November 1979. The follow up to “Animals”, is a concept album exploring themes of abandonment and isolation Waters feels. Never having known his own father, who is an RAF pilot during WWII, is killed before he is born. It also explores the poor treatment Waters received at the hands of school teachers, feeling oppressed by his over protective mother, and the end of his first marriage. The concept for what becomes “The Wall” has its genesis in the 1977 “Animals” tour, with Waters feeling that there is an increasing barrier growing between himself and the bands’ fans. The albums’ minimalist artwork is designed by artist Gerald Scarfe and Roger Waters. When the band play the album for their US label CBS Records, they are initially “unimpressed” and are reluctant to release the ambitious twenty-six track two LP set. Waters eventually prevails in it being released as intended. It is a huge critical and commercial success, becoming the largest selling album of 1980. It spins off three singles including “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2” (#1 Pop) and “Run Like Hell” (#53 Pop). Pink Floyd launches an equally ambitious tour to reproduce their masterpiece on stage. The show features the band performing in part behind a forty foot tall wall of white cardboard bricks, that is gradually built up during their performance, as well as elaborate lighting and other stage props. Various animated sequences created by Gerald Scarfe are projected on the wall during certain songs. Because of the prohibitively high production costs, it is only performed in four cities (Los Angeles, CA, Uniondale, NY, Dortmund, West Germany and London, UK) on multiple nights, for a total of only thirty one performances. In spite of every show being sold out on the tour, Pink Floyd still loses nearly a million dollars on the venture. Plans to release complete footage have been continually scotched by the band over the years, and only excerpts have been seen by the public. Audio from the London shows at Earls Court are released as “Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81” in March of 2000. Reissued numerous times on CD and vinyl since the 80’s, it is most recently remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in August of 2016. “The Wall” spends fifteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 23x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Double Diamond Certification.
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