(Experience & Immersion Editions)
The Experience and Immersion editions of Pink Floyd's The Wall are, supposedly, the last bricks to fill in the Why Pink Floyd? reissue campaign. Following expanded versions of The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, The Wall has been afforded the same exhaustive treatment with a three-CD Experience package and a seven-disc Immersion set. Both include two remastered CDs of Pink Floyd's epic album, The Wall. Love it or hate it, it remains the last great record from the classic line up of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason.
The Experience set of The Wall includes a third disc of band demos, while the Immersion set has a third and fourth disc with even more band demos. Here is where you get an insider's look into the development of the piece. Broken down by "Programmes," there's a mix of the band's demos with a couple of Waters' demos and a couple of Gilmour's demos. Some of the arrangements are completely raw, others are seemingly polished, but completely different in tone, attack and execution. "The Doctor" sounds reminiscent at first, but it isn't until Gilmour comes in on the vocal that you recognize the song that would eventually become "Comfortably Numb." Tracks like "Teacher, Teacher" and "Sexual Revolution" aren't even on the final album, and have been sprung – officially – from the vaults for the first time.
The Immersion set is expanded with two remastered CDs of the 2000 live set Is There Anybody Out There?, which captures the band performing The Wall live at London's Earls Court in 1980. The final seventh disc is a DVD with some short (too short) video clips from the Earls Court shows, along with Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 (a promotional video), the Behind The Wall documentary and an interview with illustrator Gerald Scarfe.
You also get the usual trinkets included with other Immersion sets: a booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson, a photo book, a scarf, coasters and three marbles - in this case, white marbles with a brick design. And yes there are a few goodies exclusive to this set like an art print and handwritten lyrics from Gerald Scarfe, a replica of The Wall Tour Ticket, a replica of The Wall Backstage Pass, cards of Mark Fisher's stage drawings and an eight-page credits booklet.
Which bring us to the final conclusion that there are still a few items missing. Audiophiles will call out the lack of a 5.1 and /or quad mix, both of which made the Immersion sets of The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here especially appealing. There are rumors engineer James Guthrie, who turns the knobs on all the Pink Floyd remasters, is creating a surround sound mix of The Wall, but nothing has been confirmed at press time.
Other issues have to do with the DVD. Never mind that a Blu-ray Disc alternative, as offered in the other Immersion sets, would have added a little more sizzle to this set. But let's get into the actual content of the DVD itself and a failed opportunity to finally uncork an entire Pink Floyd performance of The Wall at Earl's Court, as captured by a camera crew, hired to film the event. Again, this may be something else for the future, but the teasers on the DVD hardly provide even the slightest glimpse into the spectacle of the original production. Cross your fingers for that one.
Even the colorful rehearsals of the original stage show would have been a nice cherry on top. Circulated bootlegs reveal a tyrannical Roger Waters notoriously scolding everyone from David Gilmour to the brick builders, whom he accused of "cheating" whenever they added a brick out of cue. Waters' subsequent recreations of The Wall have given the piece the latitude for continued expansion. The Immersion and Experience sets offer up a fair share of missing bricks, but there's still a few gaps that need to be filled in. Sooner or later, we'll get another brick in the wall.
~ Shawn Perry