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The Division Bell

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The Division Bell
The Division Bell
Released March 30, 1994
Recorded 1993
Genre Progressive Rock
Length 66:32
Label EMI
Producer(s) Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour
The Division Bell is the most recent studio album released by Pink Floyd in 1994 (March 30 in the United Kingdom, April 5 in the United States). The album was recorded at a number of studios, including guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour's houseboat studio called The Astoria. It debuted at #1 on The Billboard 200 album charts in April of 1994. The album was certified Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum in the US in June of 1994 and Triple Platinum in January of 1999 in the US. The album was named by Douglas Adams, taken from a line of the final track, "High Hopes". Its release was accompanied by a successful tour documented in the P*U*L*S*E album released the following year.

Before the Roger Waters-led period, David Gilmour stated that the music and lyrics were in balance, and the importance of the music was understood. The album's atmosphere is spacier, sounding more like Meddle or Obscured By Clouds than the grittier and harsher tones of Animals or The Wall. David Gilmour and Rick Wright stated on In the Studio with Redbeard, which spotlighted The Division Bell (including interviews which were recorded for its premiere) that the album was the band's best since their 1975 release Wish You Were Here.

At the end of the album, Gilmour's step-son, Charlie, can be heard hanging up the telephone on Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke, who had pleaded to be allowed to appear on a Pink Floyd album.

The song "Marooned" was awarded a Grammy in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1995. This has been Pink Floyd's only Grammy to date.

EMI concocted an Internet-based "puzzle" known as the Publius Enigma in connection with the album's release. Officially it was never solved.

On April 13th 2005 Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason was at the JBL Theater in the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington promoting his book Inside Out. One of the fans asked him point blank about the Publius Enigma. His reply was: "That was a ploy done by EMI. They had a man working for them who adored puzzles. He used to work for the Reagan administration. His job then would be to be in meetings with the President and when Reagan would say 'Let's bomb these people' he would say 'That's not a good idea sir!'. He was working for EMI and suggested that a puzzle be created that could be followed on the Web." Allegedly the prize was nothing tangible such as front row tickets to a show or a meet and greet with the band. The winner would allegedly get a crop of trees planted in his or her name in an area that was clear-cut or another such "prize" that was more of a philanthropic display than something you could hang on the wall. Mason confirmed that the three band members (Gilmour, Mason and Wright) were aware of the game, but had no direct involvement with it. The game was real and not a hoax, but it apparently lost steam and the person who started it left EMI and the whole affair was forgotten.

Artwork

The cover artwork, by long-time Pink Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson, shows two metal head sculptures, each over 3 metres tall and weighing 1500 kilograms. They were placed in a field in Cambridgeshire and photographed under all weather and lighting conditions over a two-week period, sometimes with visual effects such as lights between them. Ely Cathedral is visible in the background, as are lights (actually car headlights on poles), shown through the sculptures' mouths. Rumours circulated at the time of the photography that they were in excess of 80 feet high. In actual fact, they were closer to eight.

The cover photograph is slightly different on each format, and between the U.S. Columbia and British EMI releases. The Braille writing on the EMI CD jewel case spells Pink Floyd.

Two additional head sculptures were made of stone and photographed in the same manner; although they do not appear in the CD artwork, they appeared on the cassette cover, and can be seen in the tour brochure and elsewhere.

Meaning

Despite no musical connections between them, most of the songs on the album are linked by the theme of communication. It is often described as "The Anti-Wall". Whereas The Wall is about closing oneself off from the world, The Division Bell is about staying in contact with humanity, for instance "Keep Talking".

While some songs can be interpreted as references to the past relationship problems between Pink Floyd members, especially the estrangement between David Gilmour and Roger Waters, Gilmour denies that the album is an allegory for the split and acknowledges only "a couple of hinted mentions that could or could not have something to do with him [Waters]"

Miscellanea

  • This album marks the first time Richard Wright had sung lead vocals since 1973's The Dark Side Of The Moon, although he did provide backing vocals for Wish You Were Here, Animals, and A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. It also marks his first songwriting credits since Wish You Were Here.
  • Douglas Adams, the writer of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy", chose the name of the album, being a friend of David Gilmour. This came about because the three band members could not agree on an album title (with both Pow Wow and Down To Earth being suggested) and Adams said he would give the band a name only if they made a donation to a Wildlife fund he was favouring. The band agreed, the name was suggested, and the donation was received as agreed.
  • Samples of Stephen Hawking from a telephone advert provide the spoken word portions of "Keep Talking."
  • A vinyl version was released and had edited versions of "Poles Apart", "Marooned", "A Great Day For Freedom", "Wearing the Inside Out" and "High Hopes".

Track Listing

  1. "Cluster One" (Wright/Gilmour) – 5:58
  2. "What Do You Want from Me?" (Gilmour/Wright/Samson) – 4:21
  3. "Poles Apart" (Gilmour/Wright/Samson/Laird-Clowes) – 7:04
  4. "Marooned" (Wright/Gilmour) – 5:29
  5. "A Great Day for Freedom" (Gilmour/Samson) – 4:17
  6. "Wearing The Inside Out" (Wright/Moore) – 6:49
  7. "Take It Back" (Gilmour/Ezrin/Samson/Laird-Clowes) – 6:12
  8. "Coming Back to Life" (Gilmour) – 6:19
  9. "Keep Talking" (Wright/Gilmour/Samson) – 6:11
  10. "Lost For Words" (Gilmour/Samson) – 5:14
  11. "High Hopes" (Gilmour/Samson) – 8:32

Personnel

with

  • Jon Carin - additional keyboards
  • Guy Pratt - bass
  • Gary Wallis - percussion
  • Tim Renwick - guitars
  • Dick Parry - tenor saxophone
  • Bob Ezrin - keyboards and percussion
  • Michael Kamen - orchestral arrangements
  • Professor Stephen Hawking - Digital voice on "Keep Talking"
  • Carol Kenyon - Backing Vocals
  • Sam Brown - Backing Vocals

Singles

  • "Take It Back" / "Astronomy Domine (live)" / "Take It Back" (edit) - Columbia 38-77493; released May 31, 1994
  • "High Hopes (radio edit)" / "Keep Talking (radio edit)" / "One of These Days (live)"; released October 10, 1994

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