The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking 6½
( 1984 )
4.30 Am (Apparently They Were Travelling... / 4.33 Am (Running Shoes) / 4.37 Am (Arabs With Knives and West German / 4.39 Am (For the First Time Today, Pt. 2) / 4.41 Am (Sexual Revolution) / 4.47 Am (The Remains of Our Love) / 4.50 Am (Go Fishing) / 4.56 Am (For the First Time Today, Pt. 1) / 4.58 Am (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin) / 5.01 Am (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking... / 5.06 Am (Every Strangers Eyes) / 5.11 Am (The Moment of Clarity)
You could be forgiven when listening to this album for thinking that Roger Waters is completely insane. I don't know why, just that the unremitting bleakness of tone combined with the rather desperate Waters vocals, ensues that 'The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking' is clearly meant to be very serious. Overly serious? Well, it is serious and it's a concept album too. That's no surprise from the pen of Mr Waters. You know, in places, this sounds like 'The Final Cut'. In other places you can close you eyes and with a stretch of the imagination - understand that yeah, Roger Waters played a part in creating 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. What I mean by that is that you can hear it in this album, you can hear vague similarities. So, what's missing? A sense of humour? Roger could quite clearly now do what the hell he liked and be as morose as he liked - without worrying about sales or the music business machinery, as much as he had to during PF days. 'The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking' is apparently a series of dreams with the times listed in the track-listing referring to the different times the dreams were experienced?? Wait a minute, that doesn't make any sense whatsoever!
What's the music here like? Well, pretty bare. We've got guitar, occasional very effective saxophone. Only two vocals tones or styles throughout... bascially - either Roger yelling and wailing whilst the sax wails along with him or alternately, Roger speaking, whispering, semi-singing if you like. The lyrics are eloquent and expertly put together, by the way. He could have read them out at some kind of poetry or prose reading and brought the house down. Matched to the music that's contained here, one takes away from the other. The vocals take away from the lyrics - because the way he's alternately soft and then loudly anguished often obliterates the lyrics. The noise in your head is too, well... noisy. I like 'Running Shoes', by the way and I like 'Sexual Revolution', both are very effective tracks. It's hard to say that anything isn't effective actually - because bar the lyrics moving the story forwards, every track here swims into the next. A sameness of tone and feel. Variations? Yeah, a few. A few variations in feel, mood and emotion. 'The Remains Of Our Love' is quite nice. As for 'The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking'? Well, it may as well have been a play or something, rather than an album by a rock artist. But, having said all of this, it IS strangely captivating - akin to watching a state funeral - 'Another Brick In The Wall' or 'Arnold Layne' now seemed a million miles away, though.
Well, I got this three years ago.
First, though, a little bit of information. Roger presented a demo of this album and The Wall to the rest of the band (Pink Floyd) back in 1978. The rest of the band picked The Wall. And I say "Thank God" to that.
The music leaves something to be desired (okay, a LOT to be desired), but the lyrics are quite good.
The main (musical) theme sounds alot like the acoustic guitar riff of "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon. Oh and there's a ticking clock linking a bunch of the songs.
There are really only a few actual 'songs' here. "Sexual Revolution", "The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking" and "Every Strangers Eyes". The latter is a very nice ballad, great guitar work. Did I mention Eric Clapton plays on this album? I think Roger did that to say "Ha ha, Dave, I got Eric-bloody-Clapton to play on MY album, so go screw yourself!!" When Dave put out About Face in the same year (1984), he got Pete Townsend to play and co-write one of the songs on it, probably just to spite Roger.
Anyway, back the review, this album tells a story (all in a series of dreams) about how narrarator cheats on his wife, and then he and his wife go out to the country and live there for a bit. His wife leaves him, and he goes hitch-hiking and gets picked up by a trucker, and he goes into a coffee shop. He wakes up in bed and realises that he has a great love life (with his wife) after all.
Some people say that David Gilmour was the musical force behind Pink Floyd, and Roger says that's completely crap. I tend to agree that Dave was. Evidence? THIS ALBUM. Great lyrics though.6 1/2
From Joshua Dolf Fishes_Inc@hotmail.com
hmm I felt that this was better than Radio Kaos, even though this was more one song that a group of songs. I felt that Radio Kaos was sort of Bland while pros and cons was more edgy, actually I couldn't tell you weither i like this better than Amused to Death or not, pretty close. Also I think this features roger's best post floyd singing.
Radio K.A.O.S 7½
( 1987 )
Radio Waves/ Who Needs Information / Me Or Him / The Powers That Be / Sunset Strip / Home /
Four Minutes / The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid)
Roger Waters had to mellow eventually. Years spent in anguished screaming can't have done him any good. So, with 'Radio K.A.O.S' we instead have a sweetly relaxed set of songs that's easy to dig. Pretty melodies, almost pretty vocals, although the vocals of Mr Waters never quite manage to be consistently pretty, and a nice story thoughtfully sketched out through the CD liner notes. Cutting it down a lot..... Benny is a Welsh coal miner... They look after Benny's twin brother Billy, who is apparently a vegetable... Billy is different, he can receive radio waves directly without the aid of a tuner; he explores the cordless 'phone, recognizing its radioness.... Billy experiments with his cordless 'phone, he learns to make calls. He accesses computers and speech synthesizers, he learns to speak... Throw in some political commentary, bear in mind Roger dedicating the album to "to all those who find themselves at the violent end of monetarism." and there we have it. Thing is, I quite like this Roger Waters story, it has its purpose as far as seriousness is concerned, rages against Thatcher and Regan at one point but also paints fairly evocative images, without being terribly complicated. Combine this with Roger Waters attempting to be Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits all through the easy to listen to 'Home', combine it with other less harsh sounding songs than Waters of the past, and that's 'Radio K.A.O.S.'. I quite like it myself.
A note about the production of this album. Bearing in mind it was recorded in 1987, with all that implies - the sound is perfectly suited to the songs. Roger even gives us a bouncy, up-tempo sing-a-long opening tune with the very catchy 'Radio Waves'. Which isn't very HIM, but that's good! 'Radio K.A.O.S' still retains all the usual Roger Waters elements with the story and lyrics thematically linking these eight songs - but at the end of the day, this is just a good batch of, gosh, tunes! Roger raises his voice for the Pink Floyd sounding 'Who Needs Information', but it certainly isn't painful. 'Me Or Him' is very soft and sweet sounding, quite pretty. The likes of 'Sunset Strip' threaten to slide into anonymity, too slick and professional, perhaps? 'Four Minutes' is four minutes of atmospheric sound effects. That's a very Roger Waters thing to do of course but it links in beautifully with the closing 'The Tide Is Turning', subtitled 'After Live Aid'. Which of course, dates this album and places it in a period of political time quite clearly, but this too is a good song. "I used to think the world was flat" sings Roger, closing his story, combining it with washes of keyboards, female vocals, pretty melodies and attention to detail, without screaming at us, poor listeners. More relaxed, still making a point, containing good songs. 'Radio K.A.O.S.' does it for me, anyway.
This is probably Roger's most "commercial" sounding album. That's kind of ironic, because it peaked at only #50, compared with PROS AND CONS (#31) and AMUSED TO DEATH (#21). The fact that they used all the "latest technology" (of 1987) on this album
makes it sound really dated. An 80's kind of dated.
But most of the songs are good. I don't like "Home" so much anymore. Or "Who Needs
Information?". My favourite track is the very pretty "The Tide is Turning (After
Live Aid)". A nice laid-back tune with great acoustic guitar work.
"Sunset Strip" and "The Powers That Be" are great. The album has a cool, but
confusing story to it. The lyrics are good, though.
Overall a good album 7.5/10 review by simon b.
Amused To Death 9
( 1992 )
The Ballad of Bill Hubbard / What God Wants, Pt. 1 / Perfect Sense, Pt. 1 / Perfect Sense, Pt. 2 / The Bravery of Being Out of Range / Late Home Tonight, Pt. 1 / Late Home Tonight, Pt. 2 / Too Much Rope / What God Wants, Pt. 2 / What God Wants, Pt. 3 / Watching TV / Three Wishes / It's a Miracle / Amused to Death
The picture on the front of the CD gives you a clue. It's a picture of a monkey/gorilla watching TV. Well, of course it is. In interviews around the time of the release of this album, Roger spoke of a book he'd read titled 'Amusing Ourselves To Death', a book which lent this album its title and also placed an image in Rogers mind. Roger, happy go-lucky chap that he is, always with a kind word and a smile for everybody.... (??!) found himself imagining the human race, literally, amusing themselves to death. Via the television set. Lots of human skeletons sat in front of their television sets. Factor in some usual Waters preoccupations, eg, war, politics, etc, etc - that's your 'Amused To Death' album. Sounds cheery doesn't it?? Well, no, it doesn't - and reviewers at the time responded in a predictable fasion - Roger Waters, "the gloomiest man in rock". Anyway, forget that. Roger got Jeff Beck to play on this album. Not all of it, but a selection of songs. Eric Clapton played on 'The Pros And Cons', but I know which I prefer. Well, look at the ratings, yes? More importantly - listen to this album, listen to the opening cut 'The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard'. It's spine-chilling stuff. Jeff does his guitar thing, beautiful atmospherics. In comes a real life world war I veteran speaking about a certain event, remembering and recalling. Rogers point being?? The news on television doesn't tell you everything? It doesn't bring you this stuff - a few moments in particular get me every time, as Jeff goes about his business. "you can imagine the pain he was in, he was driven with sweat... / I can't go any further, let me die. I said, 'if i leave you here bill, you won't be found, lets have another go... i had to leave him, in no mans land".
Oh, things get terribly complicated, Roger spent too much time thinking about politics and war, the first gulf war, more politics - ties it all in, masterfully actually - with his concept for the album, television, and it's impact and negative influence. 'What God Wants', both parts of the song - are stupendous. Ah, the first part, coming off the opening track?? The funkiest Roger Waters moment for an eon. It even slipped quietly into the UK top 40 singles charts. Ah, lots of things. Female vocals and more atmospherics for 'Perfect Sense', a soft, beautiful song. "It all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents" sings Roger. 'Late Home Tonight' is the one for me, though. Sat right in the middle of the album - and if you consider both parts of the song as a single whole, especially masterful. It's a story - a wonderful story with humour, pathos, seriousness, a message. And it winds back, it has a proper beginning middle and end. It's got a bloody string section on it!! This string section contrasts well with the lyrical content - the tone of voice Roger uses to sing "the beauty of military life.." but of course, it's not quite all that straightforward. This becomes an album of stories. A series of individual stories thematically about the same kind of things - but forming a whole. It works better than certain other Waters concept efforts - because it also works just picking on individual songs and listening to them in isolation as well as working as a whole piece. It's some whole piece - yeah, a little gloomy - but touching moments too. The music here is markedly improved and this works as the best Waters penned album since 'The Wall'.
It's difficult to explain this album. It takes time to listen to, as well, so don't pick it up and expect instant thrills. Don't even expect thrills. Expect to be moved, deeply moved. I initially thought I couldn't possibly give a solo Roger Waters album a '9'. '9' is the watershed, '9' or above indicates a classic album.... Well, perhaps it is. Roger has done little since this album, he said at one point he was going to become a classical composer. Which strikes me as being bizarre. Whatever, 'Amused To Death' is masterful. Better than Dave Gilmour led Pink Floyd? It sold a whole ton less.... Well, the question doesn't even need to be asked. Pink Floyd lost Syd, then they lost Roger. Roger kept Pink Floyd going, he learnt as he went along, how to write, and 'Dark Side Of The Moon' was the obvious watershed. After that? Well, perhaps he moved beyond the other guys in the band. Roger does a particular thing, and listening to this album has driven up my respect for him ten-fold. So yeah, it's a '9'.
I got this album 3 or 4 years ago. When i first listened to it in the cd shop, it
almost brought a tear to my eye. However, after about 2 or 3 years of listening to
it, it doesn't have the same effect.
This is probably Roger's most politically charged album, along with THE FINAL CUT.
His lyrics are still great, except for a few lines in "Perfect Sense (Parts 1 and
2)" and maybe "Watching T.V.". However, his voice is not so good. He speak/sings
(like Lou Reed) most of the songs. Jeff Beck, the featured lead guitarist on this
album, is great. Also, at 72 minutes, this album tends to be too long.
Best songs: "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard", "What God Wants, part One", "The Bravery
of Being Out of Range", "Late Home Tonight, part One", "Too Much Rope", "Watching
T.V.", "Three Wishes", "It's a Miracle", and "Amused to Death".
From Mark Ellis email@example.com
Just discovered this record, agree totally with the rating.Keenly refined rage, much
like Lou Reed's NEW YORK, another album by a man who in the past had difficulty
putting a fine point on his anger. The Q-Sound, rather than being a distraction,
adds to the emotional impact.Unfortunately, instead of building a wall, Waters may
as well be shouting at one, as the societal targets of his songs (war, cultural
catatonia) will continue unimpeded,this record, as good as it is, a pinprick on an
elephant. 8 out of 10.
From Kier Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Amen! this is Roger waters crownign acheivment, i reckon i touched a nerve or two by saying 'the final cut' is the best floyd album, but i reckon this just might be the best thing roger waters ever wrote. From the eerie opening and the sad tale from bill hubbard right through to the last words uttered this album is jam packed with political shots, thought provoking lyrics, great guitars, sound effects, an incrediblew amount of heart and soul has been put into this record, just as you can see with 'dark side', 'the wall' and 'the final cut' - i just adore this album, i must listen to it at least once a month and i'll have periods where it wont leave my side! that screeching guitar sound at the end of 'it's a miracle' is one of my favourite moments on a record ever, i always wish it was Mr Gilmour doing it. - Praise be to Jeff Beck though for helping out here, the album sounds all the better for his contribution. 'too much rope', 'late home tonight part 1 & 2' 'What god wants! part 3' the title track....its an unbelievable body of work that Roger wrote, but this is just out of this world and he knew it, i read an interview around the time this was released and he said 'youve got to admit, amused to death is fuc*ing good' you dont need to tell me........Thanks to my man Dave Cheale for turning me onto this when he did.....'tears burn in my eyes'
From Thomas McDowall Mansfield
Tortured genius is a phrase that in my humble opinion is too often attributed to mediocre semi-literate vacuous musicians who for no apparent reason produce albums of no substance to unwarranted mass popular acclaim.
Then their is Roger Waters and his magnum opus, Amused To Death. What absolute timeless magnificence. Not one wasted note nor squandered syllable. The depth of lyrics and the subject matter are quite astonishing and ignite a range of emotions such as guilt, pity , frustration and ultimately anger. At the conclusion of this contemporary masterpiece all that one is left with is contempt for the planet's most destructive species and unadulterated admiration for the 'tortured genius' who had been able to convey so eloquently his message. Perhaps the greatest album that I have ever had the pleasure to possess.
From Mick Vigano Mick Vigano
I got this album back in 1993. It is now 2010. I've played it hundreds of times. It still makes me cry. I doubt if Roger will ever top this masterpiece, but the guy's a genius, so you never know. One thing is for sure, Messrs Gilmour and Mason couldn't come up with anything half as good, in a hundred years. I've got all Rogers' solo works, and a new one is long overdue. When it arrives, if it ever does, I hope it leaves the same impression as ATD.