The Wall boosts the Floyd through the roof
Almost a decade ago, Pink Floyd played a 2½-hr. concert on the shores of the Crystal Palace pond in London. To enhance their trippy riffs and overweening crescendos, the Pinkies brought on a 50-ft. inflatable octopus and detonated a fireworks display. By the time of the first encore, all the fish in the lake had died, victims of the band's cosmic boom and crushing decibels.
In the intervening years, the body count has dwindled. Pink Floyd still machine-tools the kind of head-shop Muzak that they helped pioneer during the first shocks of the '60s psychedelic movement and that, with considerable refining and embellishment, they shaped into 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the largest and longest sellers in rock history. The Dark Side of the Moon has sold 6½ million copies in the U.S. since its release, has been on the charts for 299 weeks and recently rose from the nether regions to occupy a respectable place in the middle ground.
This late burst of activity is directly traceable to the surprise success of the new Pink Floyd album, The Wall, which has become the country's No. 1 album and which shows few signs of giving way to the competition. This is all the more remarkable because the two Floyd albums between The Moon and The Wall achieved only modest success. There was every reason to believe that the Floyd had gone under, sunk beneath the collective weight of their cosmic speculations and primal ruminations. The resurgence represented by The Wall and by the Pinkies' current concert tour, which is touching down only in New York City and Los Angeles, is a reminder that the only commercial constant in pop music is unpredictability.
Bass Player Roger Waters, who writes most of the band's music, has tempered his lyric tantrums somewhat for the new album and has worked up some melodies that are rather more lulling and insinuating than anything Floyd freaks are used to. Spacy and seductive and full of high-tech sound stunts, The Wall has a kind of smothering sonic energy that can be traced to The Dark Side of the Moon and even past that, to the band's early days on the psychedelic front lines. To fans, this continuity must be just as reassuring as the trendiness Waters has grafted onto his lyrics, which are a kind of libretto for Me-decade narcissism. Says Tom Morrera, disc jockey at New York City's pacesetting WNEW-FM: "The Floyd are not as spacy as they used to be. They're doing art for art's sake, and you don't have to be high to get it. They'll take you on a trip anyway." Travelers who may not want to sign on for this particular voyage may find themselves more in agreement with a vice president at a rival record label who speculated, not without wistfulness, that the Pinkies "make perfect music for the age of the computer game."