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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow "Pink Floyd: Behind The Wall" - Hugh Fielder
"Pink Floyd: Behind The Wall" - Hugh Fielder Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Pink Floyd: Behind The Wall - Hugh FielderPublished in October 2013 was another addition to the Floydian bookshelves. Pink Floyd: Behind The Wall by Hugh Fielder, and published by Racepoint, takes a look at the history of the band, with a range of some 200 pictures, a number of them quite unusual.

The author pulls together comments from all the band to help tell their story, and provides a decent overview of their history, albeit with a few caveats which you'll see below.

The book begins with a good amount of background to the childhood of the respective members of the band. The more knowledgeable Floyd fan will start to pick up on the slight inaccuracies with some of the picture captions which appear throughout the book. From the start, some of the Andrew Whittuck shots from his bedroom in Hampstead are stated to be taken at UFO (although that seems to be a mislabelling at the photo agency where Fielder obtained the pictures from). Also, one of Irene Wilsby's pictures of the band rehearsing at her place, is noted to be "before a set". There's also a large picture proporting to be the band at UFO, but is another band altogether.

Broadly though, the start of the book gives a good, contextual guide to the growth of the band, and how the various changes (personnel - band and management, and musical) came about. With a decent turn of phrase, the story flows well. For those of us familiar with the band's tale (and reading with a view to how accurate it is, and how suitable for those recently introduced to the band), there are some puzzling bits though.

The book shows the original Nick Mason, hand-drawn artwork for Relics, and the 1996 real life model of the mysterious craft for the reissued CD, but nowhere in the text does it refer to the album. Some people reading the book will wonder what Relics is? Was this new stuff? A compilation? The Floyd novice will potentially be none the wiser and would be puzzled and unfulfilled by the lack of information provided on this release.

In the 1972 segment on The Dark Side of the Moon, there's what feels an overly large picture of Malcolm Muggeridge, with the misleading caption that "Great Gig in the Sky features the rants of [this] TV personality and philosopher" - the early live versions did, but the tone of the caption implies it was the final, recorded version on the album, which was of course Clare Torry. No real mention is made of the initial 1972 shows, particularly the first night at the Dome in Brighton, nor the starkly different versions of the songs which would eventually be recorded for the 1973 release.

One also feels that the author misjudges or misinterprets the mood in the studio when Adrian Maben is recording the Dark Side sessions for adding in to the Pompeii film. He notes that the band are caught "at their most surly" despite it clearly being very tongue-in-cheek, and actually pretty light hearted.

Throughout there are some excellent pictures, a number of which are quite unusual. Again, care could have been taken with positioning and use - and duplication. One shot of Gilmour from 1984 is used twice within the space of ten pages. 

There's also the garish cover of Masters of Rock, which again - as with Relics - has no textual explanation. When The Tiger's Broke Free's single cover is shown, and credited as the soundtrack album of the film of The Wall. A CD of the soundtrack for La Carrera Panamericana is shown, despite no official release of this, and a picture is used of Kate Bush "circa 1970" even though she is clearly older than 12 years old. Elsewhere, the author asserts that Nick Mason worked with Mike Oldfield on the Profiles album (rather than Maggie Reilly, who provided vocals for Mike).

Nevertheless, aided by various interview segments taken from commercially released items such as The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, as well as the author's own interviews with Gilmour, Mason and Waters, there is some good commentary on the development of the band and their music. It is regrettable that a more knowledgeable person did not proof the book to capture things like references to Jonathan Price, when it should have been Jonathan Park (who worked with Mark Fisher on the band's staging). Later, he is referred to as Jonathan Ward, repeatedly, during the segment covering the 1980/81 Wall concerts - which also erroneously refers to Earls Court performances in June 1982, following up by noting the next time the four would perform together would be 26 years later (2008) when Live 8 was in 2005...

As the story heads into split and therefore post-Waters territory, the narrative flows well and sets out the legal situation they found themselves in well. There's a number of decent shots of the band live, although a 1994 picture is credited as from March 18th 1990 - they didn't tour in 1990, and the staging is a dead give-away that the caption is four years out. The text, too, makes some references to the 1990 tour, despite the shows mentioned all being from the previous year.

The book concludes in the midst of Roger's 2013 Wall shows, leaving the story - certainly on Waters' side - feeling rather open-ended. There's also no inkling of things like The Endless River but then at the stage the writer finishes, there were very few aware of what was not that far around the corner. It's then left to a discography to finish things up, alongside a look at each album in turn. Curiously though More and Obscured By Clouds are both omitted. Yes, these were theoretically soundtrack albums, but are intrinsic albums in the band's discography, and the appearance in the films themselves of the music is patchy at best. One can also see heavy parallels, or clear signs forward, from Obscured to Dark Side, and is a key album in their development, so for us, they shouldn't be overlooked in this section.

So, a book with a decent (if flawed) narrative, and some excellent pictures, although there's nothing within the story of the band which is unique to this book. Some factual tidying up is definitely required but for the more casual fan, such things as incorrect dates won't even register or affect the overall aim of the book. A bit disappointing as with some better fact checking, we would be rating it fairly highly, and it is arguably a better book (even as it stands) than some we've seen over the last few years.

ORDERING INFORMATION: Should you wish to add this to your Floydian bookshelf, it can be ordered through the following links: Amazon UK, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Espana and Amazon Italy.

 
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