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Under Construction, Part Two

Mother did it need to be so high?

Continuing our song-by-song look at Under Construction

Rating system

As we progress through the songs, I will rate the development of the music, lyrics and take a stab at guessing from which period the recording originates. Roger's acoustic recordings will be labelled with 1 asterisk (*); the early studio work will be labelled with 2 and the later studio work will be labelled with 3.

1 = Very early development; rough or unlistenable
2 = Rough, but developed
3 = Close to finished version
4 = Identical to the finished version

1 = No lyrics
2 = Early development; different or sketchy sounding
3 = Polished lyrics, but different from finished version
4 = Close or identical to the finished version

Before I continue with my song-by-song look at the early working version of The Wall (typically known to traders and Floyd afficiandoes as Under Construction) I would like to reiterate something I wrote in my first column of this series. "No matter how certain I sound in this and the follow-up columns, no matter how confidently I express my theories, there are no experts on this topic.... What I offer is my familiarity with The Wall, my familiarity with the band, as well as my assumptions and my pet theories that spring forth from all that. I don't claim them to be unassailable truths, but merely informed opinions. Take 'em or leave 'em. I don't so much hope to solidify my version of these things as gospel, but rather to offer my thoughts and ignite some discussion."

With that in mind, let's continue.

Mother | music: 3 / lyrics: 3 / **

    Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
    Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
    Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls?
    Oooh... ah
    Mother, should I build a wall?

    Mother, do you think she's good enough... for me?
    Mother, do you think she's dangerous... for me?
    Mother, will she tear your little boy apart?
    Oooh... ah
    Mother, will she break my heart?

    Hush now baby baby, don't you cry
    Mama's gonna make all of your nightmares come true
    Mama's gonna put all of her fears into you
    Mama's gonna keep you right here under her wing
    She won't let you fly but she might let you sing
    Mama will keep baby cozy and warm
    Oooh, babe (babe, babe, babe, ooh babe)
    Oooh, baby
    Oooh, babe
    Of course Mama'll help you build the wall

    Oooh, babe, don't you cry
    Mama's gonna check out your girlfriends for you
    Mama won't let anyone dirty get through
    Mama's gonna burn all of your pornography
    She'll watch what you hear and she'll watch what you see
    Mamma will keep baby healthy and clean
    Oooh, babe
    Oo-ooh, babe
    Oooh, babe
    Mother's gonna clean up all your dreams

    Mother, did it need to be so high?

The overall structure of the song is present, with a few major changes, the most noticeable of which is the fact that the second verse (the government verse) is missing. The "girlfriend" verse takes its place here, and the song lacks the reprisal of the verses (where the "girlfriend" verse would have appeared normally.) Instead, there is a jump from the guitar solo to the second chorus which is somewhat startling to those of us accustomed to the album version. The second chorus, by the way, contains the markedly awkward "pornography" line which I think ranks down there with the worst of the expurgated lyrics on Under Construction.

Under Construction cover art

Once again, the "dueling Rogers" effect happens on the line "She'll watch what you hear and she'll watch what you see" when a second overdub of Roger's voice sings the line replacing the words "watch" with "burn."

The song is well on its way to what we hear on the final album, but this version contains some weird synth notes being held in the background, going intentionally out of tune; strange and slightly annoying like a mosquito buzzing persistently around the listener's ear.

Acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocal melody are all present and accounted for. The noticeable differences in instrumentation that didn't make the final cut include a cool wah-wah guitars (most likely a old-style phaser effect pedal cranked up to an unnaturally high depth and speed) behind the chorus. The wah-wah guitar continue under a guitar solo this is a different recording that the final one, but is nearly note-for-note the same. The wah-wah guitars give the track the distinct sound of a Gilmour solo tune. While the final version of "Mother" is a marvelous piece or work, it's almost too bad that these wah-wah guitars didn't make it in (although I'm perfectly happy to see that the annoying mosquito synth part didn't make it either.)

Wall in Progress (alternate title) cover art

Goodbye Blue Sky | music: 4 / lyrics: 4 / ***

    (sfx: clock ticking)


    Did, did, did, did you see the frightened ones?
    Did, did, did, did you hear the falling bombs?
    Did, did, did, did you ever wonder
    why we had to run for shelter
    When the promise of a brave new world
    Unfurled beneath the clear blue sky?


    Did, did, did, did you see the frightened ones?
    Did, did, did, did you hear the falling (bombs?)*
    Did, did, did, did you ever wonder
    why we had to run for shelter
    When the promise of a brave new world
    Unfurled beneath the clear blue sky?

    Goodbye blue sky
    Goodbye blue sky

    [*assumed. Tape cuts out.]

The song starts with a faint ticking sound which could be some artefact from the studio recording process or an intentional effect. The little boy with that bizarrely angelic voice telling him mom about the "airplane in the sky" is missing.

Overall, there's not much to say here. This is virtually identical to final version minus a few guitar overdubs and decent equalization and mix.

The second verse drops out for a moment during "falling bombs" as if someone at the mixing desk had accidentally bumped the master volume (although it could be a wart picked up in the recording's travels amongst fans and collectors.)

The song's ending is slightly different. There is only one 'goodbye' before it drops into the fade-out. The line was probably duplicated and spliced in. The fade-out is cut-off as those familiar descending bass notes at the end lead directly into "Empty Spaces, Part 1." The effect is probably intentional, but too jarring an ending for such a quiet song. You can hear why the more gradual cross-fade heard on the final version of the album was reinstated.

Under Construction liner notes

Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979) stands as one of Pink Floyd's greatest achievements, as well of one of the greatest achievements in rock music and live concert production. The album spawned a tour, a film, a book of the film (now quite collectible), and eventually an all-star revival concert in Berlin, and finally in 1999 a double live album.

But before The Wall was a film, a concert, or even an album, The Wall was just an idea... an idea under construction. The Wall went through at least two "demo" stages. The first was a crude recording of Roger Waters strumming his guitar and singing alone. Presented by waters at the same time as another concept called The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Waters' first demo -still uncirculated even today - was deemed unlistenable by the rest of the band, but they felt it had potential. The Hitchhiking demo was set aside, but The Wall demo was developed further.

Many writing sessions later, Pink Floyd - probably with assistance from Bob Ezrin - recorded a second, more complete demo. The lyrics were not polished, and neither was the music. Thankfully, lyrics like "I am a physician/ who can handle your condition/ like a magician" would be entirely discarded and rewritten before the songs were finally committed to tape in a studio, But the rough lyrics and the risky musical experiments which appeared in that second demo have finally made it to the public.

These demo tapes have circulated among just a very few collectors since about 1999. Now it is available for all fans. This recording presents the entire 'work in progress' in the best sonic quality available on CD.

This recording was produced bv fans for fans. and is strictly not for sale. Do not pay for this recording! Many fans will trade it to you for free. If you have the ability to burn CD-Rs, please feel free to distribute this recording to others who are interested.

Empty Spaces, Part 1 | music: 3 / lyrics: 3 / ***

    What shall we use to fill the empty spaces
    Where she used to walk?
    How shall we fill the final places?
    How shall we complete the wall?

Part 1 of "Empty Spaces" contains the extended intro that we're all accustomed to, but different lyrics and without the guitars. In fact, if not for the high-pitched "beeping" that runs through the song, it would be devoid of guitars. The backward message is also missing.

The arrangment of Part 1 is closer than Part 2 to our expectations with its extended intro, but curiously, the lyrics in Part 2 are closer to the album version (and it also leads in to "What Shall We Do Now.") This suggests that the final album version took the intro from Part 1 and the verse from Part 2. Unfortunately, the recordings here are still to early to make any definitive judgment in that regard. It's likely that the lyric change may have taken place before any changes in the album's running order. Who can say for sure?

Young Lust (Instrumental) | music: 3 / lyrics: 1 / **

Traffic-bound karaoke singers rejoice! There are no lyrics here, but the music is nearly complete so pop this CD in your car stereo and let loose!

A hard edit kicks us rudely into this instrumental. Although there are some parts missing--namely the lead guitar--there is an extra wordless verse standing in tentatively as an intro. (The band reinstated the extended intro when they played it live.) It was presumably removed due to the well-known problem in cutting the album's running time down.

The instrumental version of "Young Lust" boasts some superb keyboards fills that are very well developed. Mysteriously these did not make the album. Only one rhythm guitar part (which is not yet fully developed) peeks out timidly in the mix. There are no "operator" sound effects at the end.

Overall, this sound like a different recording than what we hear on the final album, albeit a good one. Either that, or this was drastically re-worked.

One Of My Turns | music: 2 / lyrics: 4 / **

Groupie: "Oh my god! What a fabulous room! Gee, are these all your guitars? Wow! Look at that view. Can I just sit here for a while and take it in? Wow! Are you real? Real? [Lyrics begin.] Gee this little tape recorder is really neat. Is this Japanese? Hey, what's in here? Did your group ever come to this town before because I don't remember seeing you around here? Shall we get something to eat? Are you hungry? Are you hungry? Shall I order something on the telephone? Gee, you don't talk very much, do you? You English boys are so quiet. Are you feeling okay? Would you like me to get you something? Are you sure you're feeling okay? Would you like me to get you a glass of water? You don't look very well at all."
    Day after day
    Love turns gray
    Like the skin of a dying man
    Night after night
    We pretend it's all right
    But you have grown older
    And I have grown colder
    And nothing is very much fun anymore
    And I can feel
    One of my turns coming on
    I feel
    Cold as a razor blade
    Tight as a tourniquet
    Dry as a funeral drum

    Run to the bathroom
    In the suitcase on the left
    You'll find my felling axe
    Don't look so frightened
    This is just a passing phase
    Just one of my bad days
    ("Thank you!")
    Would you like to watch TV?
    Or get between the sheets?
    Or contemplate the silent freeway?
    Would you like something to eat?
    Would you like to call the cops?
    Do you think it's time I stopped?
    Why are you running awaaaaaaaaaaay?

As the song starts, we can hear the fading "guitar beeps" from the end of "Empty Spaces, Part 1," suggesting that "Young Lust" was interjected into the recorded flow between "Empty Spaces, Part 1" and "One of my Turns"." The groupie on this version appears to be played either by a chipmunk or Roger with his voice sped up to take on humorously affected female tones. You be the judge.

Keyboard and vocals are the only developed parts of the song, but neither are come off with any conviction (in fact, Roger's delivery here makes me consistently wince.) David Gilmour has stated that he was unable to come up with ideas for the rhythm parts here which probably explains why there are no guitars on the track. The drums are also absent although it's very unusual to record drums after other instruments. It's possible the drums had been recorded, but were cut out of this mix for whatever reason.

Don't Leave Me Now | music: 4 / lyrics: 4 / ***

    Oooh, babe!
    Don't leave me now
    Don't say it's the end of the road
    Remember the flowers I sent
    I need you, babe
    To put through the shredder in front of my friends
    Oh, babe!
    Don't leave me now
    How could you go
    When you know how I need you (need you, need you...)
    To beat to a pulp on a Saturday night?
    Oh, babe!
    Don't leave me now
    How could you treat me this way?
    Running away
    Oooh, babe!
    Why are you running away?
    Oooh, babe...
    Oooh, babe...
    Oooh, babe...

Like "Goodbye Blue Sky" there is little to say here. This recording is nearly identical to the final version. The differences are trivial. Some echoing guitar notes are missing. There are very subtle differences in the keyboards and guitars that could simply be the product of a different mix (example: the low guitars at the end sound tinny and quiet which could have been beefed up with post-recording effects and equalization.)

Some vocal lines sound exactly like the album version while others sound different leading me to think that Roger may have comped his performance (a process where a singer does several vocal takes then pieces together a final version by picking and choosing the best delivery from each take and compiling them into a final track.) At the end of the song, as the final notes hang in the air, you can hear a couple of heartbeats that sound like a drum as opposed to a sound effect.

Empty Spaces, Part 2 | music: 3 / lyrics: 3 / ***

    What shall we use to fill the empty spaces
    Where she used to walk?
    How shall we fill the final places?
    How shall we complete the wall?

The songs starts off with a hard edit, suggesting that it originally fit somewhere else in the flow. This version of the song shows significant musical and lyrical development but is simultaneously missing all guitar parts, except the high "beeping" guitar (which doesn't sound much like a guitar at all.)

Overall, it's a good listen, despite a few noticeable mistakes. There are some strange clicking sounds under the intro which is probably a studio flub, as it's very similar to the sound one gets when plugging a bass or guitar into an amplifier. Also, right after the "she used to walk" lyric is a weird keyboard splice.

The arrangment of "Empty Spaces, Part 1" is closer to what appears on The Wall than "Part 2."

What Shall We Do Now | music: 2 / lyrics: 2 / ***

    Shall we buy a new guitar?
    Shall we drive a more powerful car?
    Shall we work right through the night?
    Shall we get into fights?
    Leave the lights on?
    Drop bombs in the East?
    Contract diseases
    Bury treasure
    Store up
    Lights on
    Drop bombs in the East
    Contract diseases
    Bury treasure
    Store up
    Lights on
    Drop bombs in the East
    Contract diseases
    Bury treasure
    Store up leisure
    But never relax at all
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    With our backs to the wall
    Backs to the wall
    Backs to the-- (cuts off)

The song is musically still in its infancy. Despite having the overall arrangement down, there are no drums and the bass is very sketchy, missing beats at points and taking on that by-now familiar "making it up as we go along" feel.

The guitars are mildly interesting, going through a heavy phaser effect, but the parts sound undeveloped and simply fill out the background with a somewhat monotonous rhythm.

Lyrically, the song is at a halfway point. The first half of the lyrics are here, more or less. Midway through the song, Roger simply repeats a few lines four times as if he knew he wanted more there, but was simply singing the same lyrics repeatedly to pad out space for the sake of this recording.

There is an uninspired extended outro over which Roger chants "backs to the wall" repeatedly which survived in a severely truncated form in the movie and in live performance. There is an abortive attempt as a guitar solo that gets cut off by a hard edit.

Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3 | music: 2 / lyrics: 3 / ***

    I don't need your tongue to cut me
    I don't need no drugs to calm me
    I don't need your arms around me
    Don't think I need anything at all
    Don't think I need anything at all
    All in all you were
    Just another brick in the wall
    All in all you were
    All just bricks in the wall

Again, no drums and the bass sounds about halfway between improvised and lost. The multiple guitar parts are fully developed, but the "beeping guitars" are far more prominent than on the final version. The loud guitar parts which do the heavy lifting in this piece, are agonizingly low in the mix.

Most of the lyrics on Under Construction that didn't make the final cut deserved their place on the Floyd's cutting room floor, but the line "I don't need your tongue to cut me" was unfairly shot down before its prime, studio collateral damage. The line is one of my favorites and I'm puzzled why it was cut.

Goodbye Cruel World | music: 3 / lyrics: 3 / **

    Goodbye cruel world
    I'm leaving you today
    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
    Goodbye cruel world
    There's nothing you can take from me
    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

No bell sound yet. The beeping guitars that will eventually carry over from "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3" in the right side of the stereo mix, do so only momentarily here and have completely vanished from the mix before the vocals start. The bass is worked out (not surpising, given its simplicity) but slightly different from the final version. It is played with some uncertainty, some notes being struck twice and some holding longer as if Roger were still exploring how he wanted to present such a simple part.

Rick Karhu is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.