The Division Bell
Released: March 28, 1994
Peak: 14 US, 14 UK, 14 CN, 13 AU
Sales (in millions): 3.3 US, 0.6 UK, 11.3 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock veteran
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 66:23
3.505 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Pink Floyd’s second album without Roger Waters “is less forced and more of a group effort than A Momentary Lapse of Reason.” AMG The band were still legally wrestling over the rights to the Pink Floyd name during the making of that album. Here they were free from such hassle.
Keyboardist Rick Wright was restored to full band status here. He co-writes five of the 11 songs – his first writing credits on any Pink Floyd songs since 1975’s Wish You Were Here. WK He even took the lead vocals on Wearing the Inside Out. AMG
That’s the only song without a writing credit for guitarist and singer David Gilmour. Many of the songs include lyrics by novelist Polly Samson, Gilmour’s fiancée. Producer Bob Ezrin wasn’t sold on her initially, but later said “her presence had been inspirational for Gilmour” and that she pulled the album together. WK
“There is a vindictive, accusatory tone to songs such as What Do You Want from Me and Poles Apart.” AMG The former was influenced by Chicago blues while the latter “contains folksy overtones.” WK There is also an assumption that some songs, including “Poles Apart,” Lost for Words and A Great Day for Freedom, AMG were jabs at Waters. However, Gilmour denied this, saying, “it’s a little late at this point for us to be conjuring Roger up.” WK
“A Great Day for Freedom” has references to the wall coming down, which could be taken as a reference to the Waters-driven Pink Floyd album The Wall, but it was really more about the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall. AMG It “juxtaposes the general euphoria of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the subsequent wars and ethnic cleansing, particularly in Yugoslavia.” WK
The songs generally deal with the theme of communication and the premise that one can solve many problems by talking. WK Nick Mason said, “It’s about people making choices, yeas or nays.” WK The title is a reference to the division bell which is rung in the British parliament to announce a vote. WK
The song Keep Talking is the most obvious reference to the communication theme, at least in its title. It uses audio samples of Stephen Hawking which were initially recorded for a television ad. Gilmour got permission to use the recordings because he was “so moved by Hawking’s sentiment.” WK Mason thought it seemed “politically incorrect to take ideas from advertising, but it seemed a very relevant piece.” WK
“Musically, Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Wright have largely turned the clock back to the pre-Dark Side of the Moon Floyd, with slow tempos, sustained keyboard chords, and guitar solos with a lot of echo.” AMG The music didn’t meet with everyone’s favor. Entertainment Weekly’s Tom Sinclair called it a “stomach-turning merger of progressive-rock pomposity and New Age noodling.” WK Rolling Stone’s Tom Graves criticized Gilmour’s guitar solos as “rambling, indistinct asides that are as forgettable as they used to be indelible.” WK
On the flip side, Uncut’s Graeme Thomson wrote that the album “might just be the dark horse of the Floyd canon. The opening triptych of songs is a hugely impressive return to something very close to the eternal essence of Pink Floyd, and much of the rest retains a quiet power and a meditative quality that betrays a genuine sense of unity.” WK
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First posted 3/22/2008; last updated 9/1/2021.