Published Jan 01, 2006It's the easiest assignment you could give a music journalist - a one question interview: why? Why would Luther Wright and the Wrongs, an obscure but respected country-rock band with a couple of solid albums under their belt decide to recreate, in all its bongwater-seeped glory, Pink Floyd's 1979 frat boy stoner anthem The Wall? And to do it dead straight - a full-on bluegrass treatment, replete with banjos, fiddles and pedal steels, including barnyard noises to accompany the various dialogue asides from the original? "Someone had to go and rescue these great country songs," says Wright.
The end result, Rebuild The Wall, actually provides quite compelling evidence for Wright's argument. The album is full of waltzes, and hearing their meticulous recreation, which took the band eight months of work, off and on, it doesn't seem odd at all. And Roger Waters' original work required little tinkering. Except for rewriting some music for "Run Like Hell" - which will in fact appear on Part II, to be released in a few months, which means a little wait for the bluegrass "Comfortably Numb" - and toning down the jackbooted fascism in favour of more barnyard friendly lyrics, it remains intact. And believe me, hearing the lovely Sarah Harmer croon "Mother" is much better than Sinead O'Connor and the Band's travesty from Floyd's own The Wall: Live In Berlin, 1990 effort. (Other guests include Carolyn Mark as the telephone operator, and Ani Difranco band-mate Jason Mercer contributing banjo.)
It's funny, certainly, but Wright says it's no joke. "We talked about doing it quickly, and not being so careful with it, but once we started, we couldn't stop ourselves doing it properly," he explains. "We made extensive lists of all the sounds in the original album, and ended up with an elaborate story as if we were making our own movie - chicken noises, chainsaws, etc." Not the mention artwork that features a wall constructed from bales of straw.
"People are always asking us to do covers, old Hank Williams songs and stuff, and we don't know that many. But here we've learned 26 cover songs," Wright laughs. He also gets to enjoy looking out at the audience, "watching people making these crazy faces of recognition, because they know all the words, but have never seen us before."
After spending a month in Jamaica rehearsing their bluegrass Wall, the band is ready to play the epic from beginning to end, which they will at a few release shows in coming months. And who knows how out of control this will spin, from a silly idea spawned by playing along with the radio while Wright was on the road as guitarist for Harmer's band Weeping Tile. "It's not some Machiavellian plan to get us attention. We're not that smart. It's not our goal to become some crazy novelty act æ though I'm not sure how dangerous close we've come."