The Division Bell (1994)


 
1. Cluster One 2. What Do You Want From Me 3. Poles Apart 4. Marooned 5. A Great Day For Freedom 6. Wearing the Inside Out 7. Take it Back 8. Coming Back to Live 9. Keep Talking 10.Lost for Words 11.High Hopes

 

The Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd carries on. Showing that they were serious, the three remaining members joined up once again in the studio, and fortunately, put together something much more coherent, much more listenable, and maybe even much more "Floyd like" then the last time around. This album seems to have more piano/keyboard textures than before. Maybe because Richard Wright was now a "full member"? He even co-writes several of the songs, something he hadn't done in over two decades. He sings a song, too.

Make no mistake, this album sounds much more like A Momentary Lapse of Reason than anything they had done prior. The heavy handed depressing concepts of the Waters' days are still glaringly absent, yet the material here is so much stronger, that you don't mind nearly as much that it doesn't sound like "earlier Floyd". It's definite that David Gilmour is the creative leader now, but his singing is impeccable and, as usual, his guitar playing is brilliant. It could also be that fans have now had more than a decade to digest, and perhaps forget, the "old" Floyd, so when this album came out, it wasn't a shock to anyone, and seemed to not only meet, but in many cases exceed, everyone's expectations.

There actually is a very loose "concept" or "theme" this time around. Not that it should really matter, but this was sort of expected with a Pink Floyd album. The theme here is "communication", or specifically, the lack of it. Was this a comment on their strained relationship with their former bass player? There still seemed to be a lot of bickering going on behind the scenes (fortunately for Waters, he had finally managed, on his third try, to produce a brilliant solo album, so maybe this one was an attempt to "one-up" him?).

From this reviewers perspective, none of the songs here really stand out, but I mean that in a good way. In other words, the whole album is very solid. Classic rock stations would pick a couple of songs as singles (I seem to remember hearing Keep Talking and Take it Back on the radio ad nauseum), but, like a good Floyd album should, the whole albums seems to flow very well together. From the opening Cluster One, a beautiful Wish You Were Here sound alike (with sound effects of the SETI communications of trying to reach life in outer space) to the last song, the very radio friendly High Hopes, there's not a bad cut on the whole disc. Richard Wright even gets a chance to sing on Wearing the Inside Out, and although he hadn't done that either in quite some time, it still sounds exactly like a Pink Floyd song. I'll say it again - great guitar work all throughout.

Considering that this one came out right after Roger Waters' only strong (and it was very strong) solo album, makes you wonder just what could have been had these guys actually made something together, yet it's probable that the strong personalities would probably have overridden any quality that could have potentially been produced. Sadly, this was the last studio release from Pink Floyd for more than 20 years.

On a post script, more than ten years later, the four guys did reunite for a one off charity event sponsoring the Live 8 summit. Roger Waters seemed to have finally, to some degree, managed to be a bit cheerful (at least during the performance). They performed four songs, and Waters was smiling more than anyone else. Sadly, shortly after, cancer would claim the life of keyboardist Richard Wright at a far too early age making a "real" reunion at some future date impossible.

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