Like most high school boys of my generation, I was a huge Pink Floyd fan. I knew most of their albums by heart, especially the run between 1971’s Meddle and 1983’s The Final Cut. By muscle memory alone, I can still sing or air guitar along to every note of Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.
I even spent a fair amount of time listening to 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the band’s first album written and recorded without founding member Roger Waters. Pink Floyd without Waters is like The Beatles without John Lennon, but that album holds up pretty well.
As a high school senior, I saw the band in concert for that album. That tour was conducted under the cloud of a lawsuit, filed by Waters, arguing the remaining members shouldn’t have the rights to the band name. He lost, and original members David Gilmour and Nick Mason were allowed to continue as Pink Floyd.
Seven years later, they released The Division Bell, the band’s last album of original material. By 1994, I had lost any interest in following a Waters-less Pink Floyd in a new decade and I never made an effort to hear the album.
So now, 28 years later, is an old Pink Floyd fan’s chance to make up for this blind spot.
And I’m sorry to say… The Division Bell is not good. I don’t know what happened to the band between Momentary Lapse and this one, but that Waters-less effort still sounded like Pink Floyd. This one sounds like a bad imitation. I can’t point to a memorable song on this album.
Somehow, though, The Division Bell managed to go triple platinum in the U.S. and sell more than seven million copies worldwide. In the 90s, even a bad album by a once-great band could be a blockbuster.
I was spending my time in the doldrums
I was caught in a cauldron of hate
I felt persecuted and paralysed
I thought that everything else would just wait
While you are wasting your time on your enemies
Engulfed in a fever of spite
Beyond your tunnel vision reality fades
Like shadows into the night
To martyr yourself to caution
Is not gonna help at all
‘Cause there’ll be no safety in numbers
When the right one walks out of the door
“Ladies and gentlemen!
By a knockout”
Can you see your days blighted by darkness?
Is it true you beat your fists on the floor?
Stuck in a world of isolation
While the ivy grows over the door
So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask “Could we wipe the slate clean?”
But they tell me to please go fuck myself
You know you just can’t win