Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters has released a soundtrack album as a companion to the blockbuster documentary about his record breaking live revival of the classic 1979 album The Wall; spanning 29 tracks and produced by Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich the album is longer than the two previous live renditions of the same title. Roger Waters: The Wall saw the 72 year old perform this reinvention more than 200 times to 4.5 million people between 2010 and 2013. This soundtrack marks the third time The Wall has been released as a live album and yet somehow Waters has been able to reinvent the significance of Pink Floyd’s hit songs for a 21st century audience however, the visual theatricality and the more mature perceptions of the music in the documented performances doesn’t translate well in to a live soundtrack.
The significance of The Wall both as a reincarnation of music and a personal reinterpretation for Waters does not entirely work as a live soundtrack. Songs like Young Lust lose their power and Waters vocals are suppressed by gritty guitar lines, which for anybody that never saw one of the concerts, won’t appreciate the artistic goals and theatricality Waters might be aiming for. There’s too little commentary or introduction to the tracks; pre-recorded contextual narratives like that heard in One Of My Turns seem weak without the visual effects to support the new style given to the performance. The album is somewhat redeemed however with two songs not featured on the original release; Last Few Bricks explodes with a chugging guitar riff and the classic Pink Floyd electro effects and build in instrumentation with the support of a wonderfully classic sound to Waters guitar solo. Similarly What Shall We Do Now? offers die-hard fans an real audio treat by way of an interlude.
Roger Waters has again and again returned to the 1979 concept album and although he has stated that with this revival he isn’t looking back, his passion and story is just lost in this release; the stadium performances combined with the private reflections of Waters as featured in the documentary aren’t translated in this album which makes you wonder if a live soundtrack is necessary. This is Roger Waters and the music of Pink Floyd, this is The Wall, legendary music by a legendary musician, but unless you were there to see the final blow out of a phenomenal work wanting to reminisce, to truly appreciate the work that has gone in to such a staggering production you’re better off with the DVD of the concert performances with its intertwined interviews and journeys of Waters, which are far more powerful and impressive than this tinny reproduction of a standout achievement in music.