PINK FLOYD – ” The Division Bell ” 25th Anniversary Edition

Posted: April 23, 2019 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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Pink Floyd’s “The Division Bell”, released in March 1994, became the band’s first album since 1975’s Wish You Were Here to reach No.1 in both the UK and US. Their 14th studio release also went multi-platinum and turned out to be a lone victory for prog rock. In October 1985, three years after Floyd’s The Final Cut, founder member/bass guitarist Roger Waters had took out a High Court application to try to prevent the Floyd name being used again. In December, he informed the group’s record company that he was leaving the band, and that Pink Floyd were no more.

Unfortunately for Waters, David Gilmour had no intention of laying Floyd to rest. “Dave absolutely saw red, and finally got it together to go back to work,” wrote drummer Nick Mason in his memoir, Inside Out. A year later, the Waters-less Pink Floyd made their debut with “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”. The album had an arduous birth. Gilmour worked briefly with several outside songwriters, and the process was frequently interrupted by calls from lawyers tasked with defending the band’s decision to continue. Waters even tried to stop the new Floyd from touring. But his protests failed to halt the band.

A Momentary Lapse… was denounced by Waters as “a fair forgery”, but still it reached No.3 in Britain and America, and was promoted with a tour that turned Pink Floyd into the second highest grossing act of 1987. “I didn’t think it was the best Pink Floyd album ever made,” said Gilmour.

Rick Wright, who’d left the group under duress in 1979, had returned midway through the sessions, but wasn’t made a full-time member again. Instead, Wright’s name topped a list of 16 session musicians and backing singers deployed to help bring the band back from the dead.

The Division Bell should also be remembered for its music rather than the intra-band bickering that had blighted the previous nine years. But it proved that Floyd could still be a commercial success without Waters, the man who’d devised the concepts for The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. By spring, Gilmour had moved the operation to his houseboat-cum-studio, Astoria, on the Thames, and he brought in The Wall and A Momentary Lapse… co-producer Bob Ezrin. Having amassed around 65 of what Nick Mason described as “riffs, patterns and musical doodles”, “we had what we called ‘the big listen’,” explained Gilmour, “where everyone voted on each piece of music.”

The first steps towards making The Division Bell began in January 1993 with Gilmour, Mason and Wright jamming at the Floyd’s own Britannia Row Studios in North London. Before long, Guy Pratt, who’d played on the Momentary Lapse… tour, joined them. It was a dream come true for the bassist who, as a teenager, had watched Floyd play The Wall at Earls Court. “It was thrilling to know you were playing on a Pink Floyd record,” said Pratt, who recalled Gilmour gently instructing him to lose “90 per cent of the notes I was playing”.

Ideas were merged or discarded. But so much material was left over that the band briefly considered, then rejected, the idea of releasing some of it on a separate album, “including a set we dubbed ‘The Big Spliff’,” wrote Mason, which was, apparently “the kind of ambient mood music being adopted by bands like The Orb”.

High Hopes was partly inspired by Gilmour’s childhood and adolescence in Cambridge. Its beautiful lap steel guitar solo evoked Shine On You Crazy Diamond, while composer Michael Kamen’s orchestral arrangement flashed back to the strings and woodwind he’d used on Comfortably Numb. In the meantime, Floyd dragged some of their vintage keyboards out of storage and sampled their sounds on Take It Back and Marooned. Rick Wright was delighted: “My influence can be heard on tracks like Marooned. Those were the kind of things that I gave the Floyd in the past and it was good that they were now getting used again.”

In fact, the whole album was full of familiar motifs. Dark Side… and Wish You Were Here saxophonist Dick Parry returned to the fold. But so too did Dark Side… mixing supervisor Chris Thomas, who helped oversee the final mix instead of Bob Ezrin. “That was disappointing,” understated the producer. On the final album, High Hopes’ themes of nostalgia and reflection were reprised in the Gilmour/Samson/Laird-Clowes composition Poles Apart. Its first verse was apparently inspired by Syd Barrett; its second by Roger Waters. What Bob Ezrin called “the broader concept” of The Division Bell was communication and the difficulties thereof: between friends, wives and lovers, and former bandmates.

The clues were there in titles such as Lost For Words and Keep Talking, the last of which sampled scientist Stephen Hawking’s voice. “It’s more of a wish that all problems can be solved through discussion than a belief,” said Gilmour, who was well aware of the irony considering Pink Floyd’s poor track record in communicating with each other.

However, The Division Bell also seemed to have a subtext: rebirth. On Wearing The Inside Out, Rick Wright cast himself as a man venturing back into the world after years of isolation. “There’s a lot of emotional honesty there,” said Ezrin. “Fans pick up on a sad and vulnerable side of Rick.” Wright wasn’t the only one being emotionally honest. Gilmour talked about ‘killing the past’ on Coming Back To Life. Many took this as a reference to embracing his relationship with Polly Samson (whom he’d marry in July ’94) and rejecting the hedonistic lifestyle he’d been enjoying for the past few years.

Warner Music Group in association with Pink Floyd Records is releasing a 25th anniversary edition of ‘The Division Bell’, the band’s 1994 multi-million selling album that included the Grammy Award winning track “Marooned” (Best Rock Instrumental Performance) on June 7th. This Limited Edition 25th anniversary edition will be available on translucent blue vinyl (echoing the original limited blue vinyl release in 1994).

‘The Division Bell’ was the last studio album to be recorded by the band: David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright. The album debuted at No 1 in the UK, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, staying at the top of the US charts for 4 weeks; it also went to No 1 in six other countries and, to date, has reached total album sales of over 12 million. The album was recorded by the band at Astoria and Britannia Row Studios with the majority of the lyrics being written by Polly Samson and David Gilmour. ‘The Division Bell’ contains Pink Floyd’s only Grammy-awarded track, the instrumental ‘Marooned’. A video for Marooned was made for the 20th Anniversary Immersion release of the album and has now had almost 25 million views

‘The Division Bell’ sleeve artwork was the first Pink Floyd image to be featured on a Royal Mail stamp, in an issue of ‘Classic Album Covers’. The iconic album artwork of the two huge metal heads in profile talking to each other (and in turn, creating a third forward-facing head) was provided by long-time Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson.

The album was remastered for the release in 2014 by James Guthrie, Joel Plante and Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab from the original analogue tapes. Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour produced the original album, with orchestral arrangements by the late Michael Kamen.

Track Listing:
Disc 1 Side 1
Cluster One (Richard Wright, David Gilmour)
What Do You Want From Me (Music: David Gilmour, Richard Wright – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour)
Poles Apart (Music: David Gilmour – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour, Nick Laird-Clowes)

Disc 1 Side 2
Marooned (Richard Wright, David Gilmour)
A Great Day For Freedom (Music: David Gilmour – Lyrics: Polly Samson , David Gilmour)
Wearing The Inside Out (Music: Richard Wright – Lyrics: Anthony Moore)

Disc 2 Side 1
Take It Back (Music: David Gilmour, Bob Ezrin – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour, Nick Laird-Clowes)
Coming Back To Life (David Gilmour)
Keep Talking (Music: David Gilmour, Richard Wright – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour)

Disc 2 Side 2
Lost For Words (Music: David Gilmour – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour)
High Hopes (Music: David Gilmour – Lyrics: Polly Samson, David Gilmour)

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