Tuesday, July 2, 2002
Luther Wright and the Wrongs aren't just whistling Hayseed Dixie on this album, which deconstructs and then renovates Pink Floyd's 1979 classic "The Wall" ï¿½ in its entirety ï¿½ as a bluegrass and country rock opry, with bales of hay replacing bricks.
Should it work? Of course not, but it does, in a delightfully perverse way. Roger Waters' fable about a neurotic, emotionally crippled, anti-authoritarian rock star retreating into a demented inner sanctum, building both a literal and figurative wall around himself, is seriously silly, and many of its 26 songs are little more than mood-provoking fragments.
But the Canadian quintet proves as dogged in its own way as Pink Floyd, and the transition to banjos, mandolins and pedal steel guitars, and recasting of vocals as bracing bluegrass harmonies or melancholy country plaints proves strangely affecting.
Of "The Wall's" cornerstone songs, the three parts of "Another Brick in the Wall" are served up as banjo/mandolin hoedown, Jimmy Dean narrative and Marty Robbins-style country, respectively; "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" is gulch-dry honky-tonk confessional; "Mother" feels more like a "Mama"-song coming out of Merle Haggard; "Young Lust" is Skynyrd-style, Southern-fried boogie; and "Is There Anybody Out There?" appears as a banjo meditation, courtesy of Ani DiFranco's Jason Mercer. You'll also hear some alt-country echoes ï¿½ Wilco on "The Show Must Go On," Gram Parsons on "Waiting for the Worms" (which gets some silly PC lyric changes) ï¿½ and once the novelty factor wears off, you'll swear Roger Waters hails from Appalachia. The one misstep is "Comfortably Numb," which doesn't quite work in its overly energized breakdown version.