Roger Waters’ lyrical style, his facility with theme albums, Waters’ zeal in conveying emotional matters together with practical considerations, helped make the band so potent. Roger Waters’ solo albums are gems, too
Do you remember your second love?
Oh, I do not imply the romantic, real-people thing. No, I am speaking about your second musical love.
My first love was The Beatles. I could not get sufficient of them. However when I began to branch out, I sort of picked at things. Some Styx right here, some Weezer there, some Led Zeppelin, some Simon and Garfunkel, some Oasis. I would play some stuff by The Beach Boys, I would rock out with Queen.
However so far as bands that I fell for? That I had to own ALL the stuff? My second love was Pink Floyd.
A good friend and mentor of the time, a gent named Kevin Hemenway, helped me on this path. Kevin loaned me a couple CDs, he talked to me about Syd Barrett, we talked concerning the completely different textures and lyrical directions from completely different eras of the band.
There is nothing like speaking about music with a very good friend to open you as much as the listening experience.
My first Pink Floyd obsession was with “The Wall,” Pink Floyd’s studio album from 1979. Something about the “no dark sarcasm in the classroom” from “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II),” the soaring guitar solo of “Comfortably Numb,” the manic anxiety in “Run Like Hell,” the soothing-yet-unsettling nature of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” the absurd-yet-enthralling theater of “The Trial.” … All of it added as much as this emotional, complex (and but nonetheless fairly engaging) musical work.
“The Wall” hooked me. From there, I began digging into all of the Pink Floyd albums, of all of the eras. “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Meddle,” “Division Bell” — it was one discovery after one other, with seemingly no awful albums in the lot.
As soon as I would devoured all these albums and spent hours upon hours listening to them and reading about them, immersing myself within the music, I noticed that I would run via the whole released catalog. With no Pink Floyd albums left to find, what was I to do?
I began in on the solo works. Syd Barrett was my first goal. Then, having read that guitarist Gilmour was the great musical force of the band, I went into his works. It wasn’t till my third exploration that I tapped into Waters’ solo works.
All the things I would learn had recommended that “The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking” was too verbose, too humorless, too scattered. I read articles and reviews that talked about how “Radio K.A.O.S.” was ruined by 1980s production and a dopey concept. And it seemed like there was frequent consensus that Waters’ delivered great materials on “Amused to Death,” however that his voice marred the album.
This is a lot of bias to beat.
And overcome it, I did. I thought “Pros and Cons” was an interesting idea, a dream narrative played out over the course of 1 troubled evening (with some tasty guitar from Eric Clapton). “K.A.O.S.” has some nice songs, nice hooks … and OK, yeah, the production sort of limits it. However when it hits, it really hits. And “Amused to Death” is superb. Wonderful songs (and wicked guitar work from Jeff Beck), a strong theme and vocals that may croak or creak however nonetheless convey commitment and emotion that surpasses any technical flaw.
Waters’ lyrical style, his facility with themes that work across albums, Waters’ zeal in conveying emotional issues together with practical concerns (war, loss, stress, madness, the monetary markets, marriage, employment, social strife) can make for challenging (as in, not love and happiness) materials.
However these are challenges worth facing, records worth listening to.
Waters helped discovered Pink Floyd, and he arguably took over the group across the time of “Dark Side of the Moon,” when Waters took on writing all of the lyrics and honing its concept. Following albums “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” additionally rested on his thematic visions, even when other band members had opinions (or considerations) with among the materials. With “The Wall,” Waters actually blossomed, and the band released a two-disc record that mixed lyrical ferocity and emotional turmoil with wonderful instrumental flourishes.
Never again would Pink Floyd — as a foursome — combine in such near-perfect trend.
“The Final Cut,” the 1983 Pink Floyd album that was the last with Roger Waters, is absolutely more of a solo outing (given how few lead vocals Gilmour has, how little Gilmour or drummer Nick Mason contributed to the content, and how much of it was his vision; in reality, it’s credited as “a requiem for the post battle dream by Roger Waters”), however it’s a worthy successor to “The Wall” and units the stage for Waters’ future endeavors.
Waters does not dodge politics, nor does he shy away from social, financial or spiritual issues. He still challenges authority and moves individuals out of comfort zones. You might not at all times agree with him, you might not at all times respect his stances or his work, however he is followed an artistic maxim that I am able to respect: to thine own self be true.
And I have kept up with his music across the years. Live albums, live performance DVDs, an opera (Ça Ira), interviews, I discover all of it worthwhile and interesting.
Even with my appreciation for his, I wasn’t certain about picking up “Amused to Death” when the album was remastered and re-released last yr. Was it actually going to top the 1992 release?
However curiosity got the very best of me and I picked it up. I spent days and days re-listening to the album and being reminded of the heart and soul that Waters puts into his music. I was bowled over by “It is a Miracle” and “Three Wishes,” and it reminded me of this potent lyrical and musical force that had ensnared me all these years in the past.
Pink Floyd might not be my first love, or even my latest love, this music might not be the love of my life. However it’s music I still adore, still cherish, still study and still celebrate. And the solo albums of Roger Waters are so much more than what any review can actually convey.
Discover out for your self. Belief your ears. You never know what lyric will fall into place, what series of guitar notes will hook you, what heartbroken vocal outburst gonna sway your viewpoint.
If nothing else, give “Every Stranger’s Eyes” a listen. What a stirring, wonderful anthem, beginning so simply, so quietly, building to such majesty.
In truck stops and hamburger joints, in Cadillac limousines … even as much as Minnesota, this is music that lasts. This is music that matters.