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music: Breakin' down "The Wall"

Luther Wright & the Wrongs have turned melancholy art rock into a high-speed picking.


Some might say "Blame Canada" for this blasphemy. I say we shouldn't, as some Pink Floyd devotees suggest, bury these dudes from the Great White North, but come instead to praise them. Luther Wright & the Wrongs' "Rebuild the Wall" is one of the most innovative recording concepts of the year; it's a loving tribute, obsessively rendered and brilliantly executed. And as Luther Wright says, you can play their version for your parents when they come over for Sunday brunch. We spoke with Wright from his home in Ontario.

Style: At what point did the light bulb go off to do a country and bluegrass version of "The Wall"?

Luther Wright: Well I was playing along with "Another Brick in the Wall" on the tour van, and I started picking it country-style, and I said to the guys, "Man, 'The Wall,' it's all country, eh?" But it all came together when we were recording our second album, "Roger's Waltz." The power went out, and we had some time to kill, so we were going over the lyric sheets to "The Wall" and we realized: "Oh my God, it will all work!" That was the real flash, when the power went out that day.

We went down to Negril, Jamaica, for three weeks to really learn it and record without distractions. The more we played, the more we realized they're great songs. They still have meaning and poignancy. The story works in a country format — it's your basic sad story. Maybe the message comes out in a different light the way we do it. The album's nothing compared to where we're at now with it. We've played 200 shows, and we can really jam on it. The thing is, when we conceived of this, it wasn't just a project that would work. It was a project that would work for us.

Have you received any comments from Pink Floyd?

Yeah. Roger Waters sent back an e-mail that he'd listened to it and enjoyed it and wished us luck. Bob Ezrin, he produced "The Wall," said "Good Work." Nick Mason of Pink Floyd said he got a laugh from it.

What was the meanest or most critical thing someone has said to you?

Well, 99.9 percent have been great. People have been jazzed, just like we were when we started it. But the negative stuff has been that we soiled the great musical masterpiece; that's been the focus of the slag we've got. Some get carried away on our Web site, saying whoever did this should be taken out and shot, but we think they're just playing along.

Apparently Pink Floyd inspired you. Who else inspired you?

Hank Williams, Shaggy and Roger Miller. Also, the Ramones were inspirations for when you want to put on a kickin' show. And on the country side, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and, of course, The Man In Black.

What should our Richmond audience expect if they come out to the show?

A real good night of rip-roaring music, played snazzy by handsome men in good-looking cowboy shirts. S

Luther Wright & the Wrongs plays the Canal Club, 1545 E. Cary St., Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $8 and can be purchased at Plan 9, or by calling 643-CLUB.

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