Is There Anybody Out There?
After months — even years — of delay, Pink Floyd have finally given the world an official "live" version of their magnum opus, The Wall. Performed in 1980-81 by the band's four principal players — Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright — this is the first collection of new recordings sanctioned by this particular combination in over 20 years. For all intents and purposes, the wait was well worth it.
Having seen the show myself, I relegated myself to seeking out several bootleg tapes, CDs and videos of The Wall tour. Each, in its own varied form, has failed miserably to conjure up the sonic force of the concert I saw. Fortunately, Engineer and co-producer of The Wall studio album, James Guthrie, has painstakingly pieced together original multi-track concert recordings from London's Earl Court, added a bit of hi-resolution to the mix and presto! Is There Anybody Out There? is a pristine document of The Wall performed live, in its entirety.
The double CD set is almost as elaborate as the performances were. Everyone, from the band members to art and staging designers to Guthrie himself has their say in the comprehensive booklets that accompany the CDs (for diehards, there is also a deluxe limited-edition CD set, packaged in a 64-page hardcover book). But when it comes right down to it, it's the music that counts. Without a doubt, Is There Anybody Out There? delivers.
In addition to the faithful track-by-track rendering from the original album, there is some bonus material that was thrown into the shows and subsequent movie to give the entire piece a more cohesive pace. The previously unreleased "What Shall We Do Now?" and "The Last Few Bricks" as well as some extended instrumental jams breathe new blood into the epic. Even with the supplementary batch of players, Is There Anybody Out There? is far more representative of Pink Floyd than even the two live sets issued after Roger Waters left the band.
~ Shawn Perry