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Covering Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” with Summoner and the Melvins

the wall

Pink Floyd’s magnum opus The Wall stands tall among even the most legendary rock albums of the 1970s. As the last great record of a decade that has come to define the genre, and the fallout within the band that followed soon after, The Wall was a watershed moment. For some, its grand scope and complex, esoteric narrative represented the worst of what rock had become, a bloated self-parody of what had been until recently a dangerous and exciting cultural force. Others found that its themes of isolation, depression, and loss hit very close to home. Either way, the album remains a musical touchstone whose multiple singles can be heard almost hourly on any rock radio station to this day.

Countless rock and metal bands have pointed to Pink Floyd as a direct influence for almost fifty years, and like previous efforts with Jimi Hendrix and Helmet, Magnetic Eye Records has gathered acts from across the musical spectrum to take their respective shots at covering one of the 26 tracks. Check out two exclusive premieres of covers from The Wall [Redux] below.

The proceedings begin with the Melvins and album opener “In The Flesh?” The original song starts very quietly, with the end of the album’s final track “Outside The Wall” playing for a few moments before the band smashes in with a monstrous Gilmour riff and Richard Wright’s ubiquitous keyboards. King Buzzo & Co. start much the same way, but in classic Melvins style, not all is as it seems. Osborne completely changes the lyrics to what amounts to a tongue-in-cheek love song, complete with 1950s-style pop ballad inflections during the truncated verse. It’s jarring to anyone with The Wall hardwired into their brain, but repeated listens serve as a reminder that Pink Floyd used to implement the same kind of left-field maneuvers as well. “In The Flesh?” might not work quite as well as other Pink Floyd covers the Melvins have attempted, but it’s an interesting and creative take.

At the other end of the creative and narrative range, Boston’s Summoner offers a much more faithful adaptation of the album’s midpoint meditation “Hey You.” Now that the metaphorical bricks have been laid and Pink has isolated himself in a hotel suite, he is second-guessing his decisions and longing for some sort of human contact. The band takes the song’s original blueprint and kicks it to 11, loading up on the distortion and singer Chris Johnson channeling Gilmour at his most expressive. Where the original held back, Summoner go for broke. “Hey You” is one of the most straightforward songs on The Wall, both musically and lyrically, so within this context the cover works exceptionally well.

If any album of 2018 is worthy of multiple listens, The Wall [Redux] must be in the conversation for its sheer volume alone. Taken with the previously released tracks from ASG, Mark Lanegan and Pallbearer, this is just the tip of an impressive, immersive iceberg. Dust off your headphones for these.

Check out the other previously released tracks from The Wall [Redux] — covers by ASG, Year of the Cobra (who are also playing Prophecy Fest US this weekend), Pallbearer, and Mark Lanegan — below. Full tracklist below as well. The Wall [Redux] releases next Friday.

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Tracklist
Side A
1. In the Flesh? – The Melvins
2. The Thin Ice – Low Flying Hawks
3. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 – Ghastly Sound
4. Happiest Days of Our Lives – Sergeant Thunderhoof
5. Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 – Sasquatch
6. Mother – ASG

Side B
1. Goodbye Blue Sky – Mos Generator
2. Empty Spaces – Domkraft
3. Young Lust – The Slim Kings
4. One of My Turns – Worshipper
5. Don’t Leave Me Now – Spaceslug
6. When the Tigers Broke Free – Year of the Cobra
7. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3 / Goodbye Cruel World – Greenleaf

Side C
1. Hey You – Summoner
2. Is There Anybody Out There? – Scott Reeder
3. Nobody Home – Mark Lanegan
4. Vera – Ruby the Hatchet
5. Bring the Boys Back Home – Sunflo’er
6. Comfortably Numb – Mars Red Sky

Side D
1. The Show Must Go On – Open Hand
2. In the Flesh – Solace
3. Run Like Hell – Pallbearer
4. Waiting for the Worms – WhiteNails
5. Stop – Blue Heron
6. The Trial – Church of The Cosmic Skull
7. Outside the Wall – Yawning Man

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