Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Brick In The Wall Part II (single)

Another Brick In The Wall Part II  3:59
Studio recording April-November 1979 
* Released on single 16 November 1979 *

Written by Roger Waters
Produced by David Gilmour, Bob Ezrin, and Roger Waters
Co-produced and engineered by Nick Griffiths
Recorded at Super Bear Studios, France, and Britannia Row Studios, London

UK: Harvest HAR 5194 (Stereo mix)
Reached #1 in the UK charts
US: Columbia 1-11187
Reached #1 in the US charts

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone
Hey, teacher!
Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just a another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

(The above repeats once.)

Backing vocals: Islington Green School fourth form music class

This song, released along with its B-side two weeks before the album of The Wall, became a huge hit, partially due to its pop, almost disco, sound. Dave performed the now famous, and flawless, guitar solo on his 1959 Gibson gold-top, which was then double-tracked. The song was originally recorded with just Roger and Dave's voices. Then they had the idea of overdubbing children's voices singing the lyrics, to add a touch of irony. They rang Nick Griffiths at the Britannia Row studios in London from L.A. and asked him to take care of it.

Nick Griffiths: "[The initial assignment was just] to record a couple of kids singing the song. But I went to the local school round the corner from Britannia Row [Islington Green School], and asked the music teacher if the whole class of kids would like to come to the studio and do some singing. He was thrilled to bits. We made an arrangement that in return if he ever wanted the school orchestra or something like that recorded, they could just come down the road and we'd do it for them. I leapt up and down getting the kids in the right spirit, and everyone had a whale of a time. It wasn't something I'd thought about beforehand; a lot of the best things happen that way. It just took half an hour to do; then I tracked the voices about a dozen times." [Schaffner 231]

The band was so pleased with the outcome they decided to mix the kid's voices to the forefront.

Dave Gilmour: "But we didn't want to lose our voices. So we sound up copying the tape and mixing it twice — one with me and Roger singing, and one with the kids; the backing is the same. And we edited them together." [Schaffner 231]

However, a scandal ensued when the British tabloids discovered that the students of the 'communist' Islington Green School were not paid for their efforts in singing the anti-establishment song, and didn't even get a copy of the album.

Nick Griffiths: "In the end, the school was given an awful lot of money. Of course the kids individually didn't get any of it." [Schaffner 232]

However, Roger did make sure that each student received a copy of The Wall.
Dave Gilmour: "It's been a long time since one of our singles charted, and although it's not our number one (excuse the pun!) aim, we're all well pleased." [Miles]

Almost ten years later, after Roger had left the band, Dave felt compelled to explain the performance of this song, which had a Waters composing credit, at his Pink Floyd concerts of 1988.

Dave Gilmour: "Even the songs that Roger supposedly wrote by himself — it's never the full story. You can never say exactly what happened when that record was made. The whole ending part of Another Brick in the Wall Part II he didn't write the guitar solo or the chords in that section. He didn't make up the drum parts, the rhythm. I'm not going to abandon something I've worked really hard on, or feel I had something major to do with, just because it says Roger wrote it. Life is too short." [Schaffner 301]

Though the schools in Britain did not completely live up to the accusation of 'thought control', schools in South Africa certainly did. This is why it is particularly interesting that the song became the anthem of school boycotters in that country, causing a national ban on its sale or broadcast. Having this kind of worldwide impact on the politics and feelings of the people is surely the highest goal of any type of creative artist.

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