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The Division Bell

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This article is about the Pink Floyd album. For the bell rung in the British Houses of Parliament, see Division bell.
The Division Bell
Pink Floyd - Division Bell.jpg
Cover of all vinyl copies except in Brazil, Colombia and United States
Studio album by Pink Floyd
Released 28 March 1994 (1994-03-28)
Recorded January–December 1993 in London, England
Genre Progressive rock
Length 66:32
Label EMI
Producer Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour
Pink Floyd chronology
Shine On
The Division Bell
2014 20th Anniversary Re-issue
Singles from The Division Bell
  1. "Take It Back"
    Released: 16 May 1994 (1994-05-16)
  2. "High Hopes" / "Keep Talking"
    Released: 17 October 1994 (1994-10-17)

The Division Bell is the fourteenth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. It was released in the UK by EMI Records on 28 March 1994, and the US by Columbia Records on 4 April.

The music was written mostly by David Gilmour and Richard Wright; lyrically, the album deals with themes of communication. Recording took place in several locations, including the band's Britannia Row Studios, and Gilmour's houseboat, Astoria. The production team included Pink Floyd stalwarts such as producer Bob Ezrin, engineer Andy Jackson and saxophonist Dick Parry. Gilmour's new wife, Polly Samson, co-wrote many of the album's lyrics, and Wright performed his first lead vocal on a Pink Floyd album since 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon.

The album reached number one in the UK and the US, but received mixed reviews. Its release was followed immediately by a tour of the US and Europe. The Division Bell was certified gold, platinum and double platinum in the US in 1994, and triple platinum in 1999.


The Division Bell deals with themes of communication and the idea that talking can solve many of life's problems.[1] In the Studio radio host Redbeard suggested that the album offered "the very real possibility of transcending it all, through shivering moments of grace".[2] Songs such as "Poles Apart", "Lost for Words", and particularly the reference to "the day the wall came down" in "A Great Day for Freedom" have been interpreted[by whom?] as references to the estrangement between Pink Floyd and former band member Roger Waters, who left in 1985; however, Gilmour denied this, and said: "People can invent and relate to a song in their personal ways, but it's a little late at this point for us to be conjuring Roger up."[3] The title refers to the division bell rung in British parliament to announce a vote.[4][nb 1] Drummer Nick Mason said: "It does have some meaning. It's about people making choices, yeas or nays."[3]

Produced a few years after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, "A Great Day for Freedom" juxtaposes the general euphoria of, for instance, the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the subsequent wars and ethnic cleansing, particularly in Yugoslavia.[5] Audio samples of professor Stephen Hawking, originally recorded for a BT television advertisement, were used in "Keep Talking";[3][6] Gilmour was so moved by Hawking's sentiment in the advert that he contacted the advertising company for permission to use the recordings on the album.[7] Mason said it felt "politically incorrect to take ideas from advertising, but it seemed a very relevant piece."[3] At the end of the album Gilmour's stepson Charlie is heard hanging up the telephone receiver on Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke, who had pleaded to be allowed to appear on a Pink Floyd album.[8]


David Gilmour's recording studio, Astoria

In January 1993, Gilmour, Mason and Wright began improvising new material in sessions at a remodelled Britannia Row Studios. Although the band were initially apprehensive about recording together, because Roger Waters had left after the album The Final Cut. They were in need of a new bass, and after the first day their confidence improved and soon, bassist Guy Pratt (who had, since the end of the Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, started a relationship with Wright's daughter, Gala)[9] was asked to contribute. According to Mason, "an interesting phenomenon occurred, which was that Pratt's playing tended to change the mood of the music we had created on our own".[10] Without the legal problems experienced during production of their 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Gilmour was at ease; if he felt the band were "getting somewhere", he would press the record key of a two-track DAT recorder.[11][12] At one point Gilmour surreptitiously recorded Wright playing the keyboard, and captured material which later formed the basis for three pieces of music.[13]

The improvisations the band recorded helped spur their creative process, and after about two weeks they had around 65 pieces of music. With engineer Andy Jackson back on the team, and Bob Ezrin employed as co-producer, production moved to Gilmour's houseboat and recording studio, Astoria. The band listened to and voted on each track, and whittled the material down to about 27 pieces of music. Eliminating some tracks, and merging others, they arrived at a list about fifteen strong songs, before cutting another four to produce a tracklist of eleven. Song selection was based upon a system of points, whereby all three members would award marks out of ten to each candidate song, a system skewed somewhat by Wright's decision to award his songs ten points each, and the other songs no points.[14] Wright was not contractually a full member of the band, a situation which upset him; Wright later reflected: "It came very close to a point where I wasn't going to do the album, because I didn't feel that what we'd agreed was fair."[15] Despite his frustration he chose to remain, and received his first songwriting credits on any Pink Floyd album since 1975's Wish You Were Here.[16]

"Wearing the Inside Out" contains Richard Wright's first prominent vocal contribution to a Pink Floyd album since 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon.

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Gilmour's new wife, Polly Samson, also received songwriting credits. Initially, her role was limited to providing encouragement for her husband, but she later helped Gilmour write "High Hopes" (a song about Gilmour's childhood and early life in Cambridge). Her role expanded to co-writing a further six songs, something which did not sit well with Ezrin. In an interview for Mojo magazine Gilmour admitted that Samson's contributions had "ruffled the management's [feathers]", but Ezrin later reflected that her presence was inspirational for Gilmour, and that she "pulled the whole album together".[17] She also helped Gilmour, who, following his divorce, had developed a cocaine addiction.[1]

Keyboard player Jon Carin, and Gary Wallis were brought in to complete the band, before recording began. Five backing vocalists were also hired, including Sam Brown, and Momentary Lapse tour singer Durga McBroom. The band then moved to Olympia Studios, recorded most of the 'winning' tracks over the space of a week. After a summer break, they returned to Astoria to record more backing tracks. Ezrin worked on the various drum sounds, and previous collaborator and orchestral composer Michael Kamen provided the album's string arrangements which were recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two by Steve McLaughlin.[18] Dick Parry played saxophone on his first Pink Floyd album for almost 20 years, on "Wearing the Inside Out", and Chris Thomas was booked to undertake the final mix.[19] Between September and December recording and mixing sessions were held at Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, and the Creek Recording Studios in London. In September, the band performed at a celebrity charity concert at Cowdray House, in Midhurst.[20] The album was mastered at the Mastering Lab in Los Angeles, by Doug Sax and James Guthrie.[nb 2]

Jackson edited unused material from the Division Bell sessions, described by Mason as ambient music, to an hour-long composition tentatively titled The Big Spliff,[21] but Pink Floyd decided not to release it.[10] Some of The Big Spliff was used to create the band's next album, The Endless River (2014).[22]


With the aid of Gilmour's guitar technician, Phil Taylor, Carin located some of Pink Floyd's older keyboards from the warehouse in which they had been stored, including a Farfisa organ. Some of the sounds sampled from these instruments were used on the tracks "Take It Back", and "Marooned".[23] Carin was joined on keyboards by Ezrin, Durga McBroom supplied backing vocals alongside Sam Brown, Carol Kenyan, Jackie Sheridan, and Rebecca Leigh-White.[24]

Gilmour used several styles on the album. "What Do You Want from Me" is influenced by Chicago blues, and "Poles Apart" contains folksy overtones. Gilmour's improvised guitar solos on "Marooned" used a DigiTech Whammy pedal to pitch-shift the guitar notes over a full octave. On "Take It Back", he used an EBow, an electronic device which simulates the sound of a bow on the strings, on a Gibson J-200 guitar through a Zoom effects unit.[25]

Packaging and title[edit]

The album feels much more home-made, very much as a band playing together in one space. I think that Rick in particular felt significantly more integrated in the process this time, compared to Momentary Lapse. It was nice to have him back.

Nick Mason (2005)[26]

To avoid competing against other album releases (as had happened with A Momentary Lapse) Pink Floyd set a deadline of April 1994, at which point they would begin a new tour. By January of that year however, the band still had not decided on a title for the album. The list of names being considered included Pow Wow and Down to Earth. At a dinner one night, writer Douglas Adams, spurred on by the promise of a payment to his favourite charity, the Environmental Investigation Agency, suggested "the division bell" (used in the lyrics for "High Hopes"), and the name stuck.[27][28]

Longtime Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson provided the album artwork. He erected two large metal heads, each the height of a double-decker bus, in a field near Ely. The sculptures were positioned close together, and photographed in profile, to give the illusion that not only were they either facing or talking to each other, they also presented the viewer with a third face. The sculptures were devised by Keith Breeden, and constructed by John Robertson. Ely Cathedral is visible on the horizon.[29][30] The sculptures are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

The album was released in the UK and US on CD, vinyl, and compact cassette, each with its own format and label-specific design. It was also available in mini-disc format. Two 7.5-metre (25 ft) stone sculptures were made by Aden Hynes[nb 3] for the cassette releases, and photographed in the same style as the metal heads. The artwork inside the CD liner notes revolves around a similar theme, with the image of the two heads formed by various other objects, such as newspapers ("A Great Day for Freedom"), coloured glass ("Poles Apart"), and boxing gloves ("Lost for Words"). Pages two and three portray a picture from the Chilean Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The CD case itself had the name of Pink Floyd printed in Braille on the left front side.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[31]
Robert Christgau (dud)[32]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[33]

... there's a sense that the band may have put more thought into its trademark audio gimmickry ... than it did into its songs this time around. ... Still, the band maddeningly manages a few moments of the old grandeur here and there. The Division Bell is not a great Pink Floyd album, but an all-too-fallible simulation.

Jerry McCully on The Division Bell[34]

Just rubbish ... nonsense from beginning to end.

Roger Waters, giving his opinion of The Division Bell[35]

On 10 January 1994 a press reception to announce The Division Bell and world tour was held at a former US Naval Air Station in North Carolina, in the US. A purpose-built Skyship 600 airship, manufactured in the UK, toured the US until it returned to Weeksville, and was destroyed by a thunderstorm on 27 June. Pieces of the aircraft were sold as souvenirs. The band held another reception, in the UK, on 21 March. This time they used an A60 airship, translucent, and painted to look like a fish, which took journalists on a tour of London. The airship, which was lit internally so it glowed in the night sky, was also flown in northern Europe.[36]

The Division Bell was released in the UK by EMI Records on 28 March 1994,[nb 4] and in the US on 4 April,[nb 5][36] and went straight to #1 in both countries.[38] The Division Bell was certified silver and gold in the UK on 1 April 1994, platinum a month later and 2x platinum on 1 October. In the US, it was certified gold and double platinum on 6 June 1994, and triple platinum on 29 January 1999.[39]

Despite strong sales, The Division Bell received mixed reviews. Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly gave it a "D", writing that "avarice is the only conceivable explanation for this glib, vacuous cipher of an album, which is notable primarily for its stomach-turning merger of progressive-rock pomposity and New Age noodling".[40] Rolling Stone's Tom Graves criticised Gilmour's performance, stating that his guitar solos had "settled into rambling, indistinct asides that are as forgettable as they used to be indelible ... only on 'What Do You Want from Me' does Gilmour sound like he cares".[33] Nevertheless, the album was nominated in the 1995 Brit awards for the "Best Album by a British Artist",[41] but lost to Blur's Parklife. In March the same year the band was awarded with a Grammy for the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" on "Marooned".[42]

In Uncut's 2011 Pink Floyd: The Ultimate Music Guide, Graeme Thomson wrote that The Division Bell "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."[43]


Two days after the album's release, the band's Division Bell Tour began at Joe Robbie Stadium, in suburban Miami. The setlist began with 1967's "Astronomy Domine", before moving to tracks from 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and The Division Bell. Songs from Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side of the Moon featured, as well as The Wall. Backing musicians included Sam Brown, Jon Carin, Claudia Fontaine, Durga McBroom, Dick Parry, Guy Pratt, Tim Renwick, and Gary Wallis. The tour continued in the US through April, May and mid-June, before moving to Canada, and then returning to the US in July. As the tour reached Europe in late July, Waters was invited to join the band, but he declined, and later expressed his annoyance that some Floyd songs were being performed again in large venues. On the first night of the UK leg of the tour on 12 October, a 1,200 capacity stand collapsed, but with no serious injuries; the performance was rescheduled.[44][45]

During the tour an anonymous person named Publius posted a message on an internet newsgroup, inviting fans to solve a riddle supposedly concealed in the new album. The veracity of the message was demonstrated when white lights in front of the stage at a performance in East Rutherford spelled out the words Enigma Publius. During a televised concert at Earls Court in October 1994, the word enigma was projected in large letters on to the backdrop of the stage. Mason later acknowledged that the Publius Enigma did exist, and that it had been instigated by the record company rather than the band. As of 2014 the puzzle remains unsolved.[46]

The tour ended at Earls Court on 29 October 1994, and was the group's final concert performance until Live 8. Estimates placed the total number of tickets sold at over 5.3 million, and gross income at about $100 million.[47] A live album of the tour, named Pulse, and a concert video, also named Pulse, (which was shot on 20 October 1994) were released in June 1995.[48]

Track listing[edit]

All lead vocals performed by David Gilmour, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Cluster One" (Instrumental) David Gilmour, Richard Wright 5:58
2. "What Do You Want from Me"   Gilmour, Wright, Polly Samson 4:21
3. "Poles Apart"   Gilmour, Samson, Nick Laird-Clowes 7:04
4. "Marooned" (Instrumental) Gilmour, Wright 5:29
5. "A Great Day for Freedom"   Gilmour, Samson 4:17
6. "Wearing the Inside Out" (Lead vocals: Wright, Gilmour) Wright, Anthony Moore 6:49
7. "Take It Back"   Gilmour, Samson, Laird-Clowes, Bob Ezrin 6:12
8. "Coming Back to Life"   Gilmour 6:19
9. "Keep Talking"   Gilmour, Wright, Samson 6:11
10. "Lost for Words"   Gilmour, Samson 5:14
11. "High Hopes"   Gilmour, Samson 8:31
Total length:


Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Cluster One" (Instrumental) Gilmour, Wright 5:29
2. "What Do You Want from Me"   Gilmour, Wright, Samson 4:21
3. "Poles Apart"   Gilmour, Samson, Laird-Clowes 5:49
4. "Marooned" (Instrumental) Gilmour, Wright 4:08
5. "A Great Day for Freedom"   Gilmour, Samson 3:38
6. "Wearing the Inside Out" (Lead vocals: Wright, Gilmour) Wright, Moore 6:28
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Take It Back"   Gilmour, Samson, Laird-Clowes, Ezrin 6:12
8. "Coming Back to Life"   Gilmour 4:57
9. "Keep Talking"   Gilmour, Wright, Samson 6:11
10. "Lost for Words"   Gilmour, Samson 5:14
11. "High Hopes"   Gilmour, Samson 6:50
Total length:


Since its release in 1994, The Division Bell has been reissued twice. The first was part of the 2011 Why Pink Floyd...? campaign which saw it remastered by Andy Jackson and released as a standalone CD and as part of the Discovery box set which collects all of the 14 studio albums together for the first time.[49] The second reissue occurred on 30 June 2014, which saw the album released as a "20th anniversary deluxe edition" box set[50] and a 20th anniversary double-LP vinyl reissue.[51] The box set contains the 2011 remaster of the album; a 5.1 surround sound remix by Andy Jackson; 2-LP album on 180g vinyl; a red 7" "Take It Back" single; a clear 7" "High Hopes/Keep Talking" single; a blue, laser-etched 12" "High Hopes" single; book and assorted art cards.[50] The 2014 reissues saw the first release of the full album on vinyl as the 1994 vinyl release saw only edited versions of the songs to keep it to a single LP.


Charts and certifications[edit]



  1. ^ The bell used at the end of the album is not the bell used in Parliament
  2. ^ See sleeve notes.
  3. ^ See sleeve notes.
  4. ^ UK EMI EMD 1055 (vinyl), EMI CD EMD 1055 (CD)[37]
  5. ^ US Columbia C 64200 (vinyl), Columbia CK 64200 (CD)[37]


  1. ^ a b Blake 2008, p. 365
  2. ^ In the Studio with Redbeard,, 17 August 2009 
  3. ^ a b c d Morse, Steve (12 May 1994), Pink Floyd pride and drive keep band on top with No. 1 album and 60-show tour (Registration required), Boston Globe, hosted at, retrieved 14 January 2010 
  4. ^ Mabbett 1995, pp. 119, 123
  5. ^ Cosyns, Simon (26 September 2008), Echoes brought Rick out of his shell ... we had musical telepathy,, retrieved 17 January 2010 
  6. ^ (liner notes from Echoes)
  7. ^ In the Studio with Redbeard, 31 March 1994 
  8. ^ Mabbett 1995, p. 123
  9. ^ Blake 2005, p. 356
  10. ^ a b Mason 2005, p. 315
  11. ^ Blake 2005, p. 354
  12. ^ Di Perna 2002, p. 86
  13. ^ Mason 2005, pp. 314–315
  14. ^ Mason 2005, pp. 314–321
  15. ^ Blake 2005, p. 355
  16. ^ Blake 2005, pp. 354–355
  17. ^ Blake 2005, pp. 355–356
  18. ^ Mason 2005, pp. 318–319
  19. ^ Blake 2008, pp. 356–357
  20. ^ Povey 2007, p. 257
  21. ^ "The Return of the Parts of Something: The Making of The Endless River", by Daryl Easlea, Prog October 2014, pp. 38-45
  22. ^ Young, Alex (22 September 2014). "Pink Floyd reveals details of new album, The Endless River". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  23. ^ Blake 2008, p. 357
  24. ^ Mabbett 1995, p. 120
  25. ^ Di Perna 2002, pp. 83–85
  26. ^ Mason 2005, p. 317
  27. ^ Mason 2005, pp. 319–320
  28. ^ Mabbett 1995, pp. 119–120
  29. ^ Mason 2005, p. 320
  30. ^ Division Bell — Metal Heads,, archived from the original on 13 July 2011, retrieved 13 January 2010 
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  32. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Pink Floyd". Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  33. ^ a b Graves, Tom (16 June 1994), The Division Bell,, archived from the original on 19 June 2008, retrieved 3 January 2010 
  34. ^ McCully, Jerry, The Division Bell, retrieved 2010-01-09 
  35. ^ Manning 2006, p. 144
  36. ^ a b Povey 2007, p. 270
  37. ^ a b Povey 2007, p. 350
  38. ^ Blake 2008, p. 359
  39. ^ Povey 2007, p. 351
  40. ^ Sinclair, Tom (22 April 1994), The Division Bell,, retrieved 9 January 2010 
  41. ^ The Nominees, Billboard, 18 February 1995, p. 48, retrieved 13 January 2010 
  42. ^ Browne 2001, p. 611
  43. ^ Thomson, Graeme (June 7, 2011). "The Division Bell". Uncut: Ultimate Music Guide – Pink Floyd (6): 128. 
  44. ^ Blake 2008, p. 367
  45. ^ Povey 2007, pp. 270–280
  46. ^ Blake 2008, pp. 363–367
  47. ^ Povey 2007, p. 264
  48. ^ Povey 2007, p. 285
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External links[edit]