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Roger Waters - Amused to Death CD (album) cover


Roger Waters


Crossover Prog

3.91 | 553 ratings

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4 stars Intellectual and Thought-Provoking. One of Water's Two Best Solo Albums.

One of the best-recorded albums ever, this solo album sees Waters come up with a very complex, multi-layered, and insightful musical statement. Using a number of very talented guests (including Jeff Beck on lead guitar), Waters here delivers an album in which he criticizes a number of the intellectual currents undergirding neoliberal politics and international relations circa the 1990s. With a mix of deadly-serious insight and dark humour, this album forgoes the bizarrely-concocted storyline of 'Radio Maos', and instead weaves together a number of intellectually-related pieces that do not fit neatly into any story but instead sum up to something greater than their parts. Like a number of separate paintings of different topics, when placed together they invoke a series of related messages and critiques. Much of the critique is about the relationship between a market-based policy and the uses of war, with one (of the many) of Water's critiques built around how so much of what passes for official policy, whether around international conflict or choice in the marketplace, is merely 'amusing to death' the polity and hiding the real underlying relations of power from them. Waters is open about being influenced by Neil Postman's book 'Amusing Ourselves to Death', from which the album title and many of its themes derives. The album begins and ends with "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard", essentially a recounting of a story of a fallen soldier who had to be left for dead in the heat of war, and the pain this caused the veteran telling it. But really holding together the album is the song, broken into three separate parts (and thus appearing in three different places), 'What God Wants'. This is classic Waters, both in musical style and lyrics, comparing the market to God (or the fundamentalist pro-market religion to actual religion). In the middle are a number of pieces that relate international trade policies and the use of force ('Late Home Tonight', 'Perfect Sense', 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range'). These are mostly great (although I am not so keen on 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range', or 'Too Much Rope' - I feel these could have been cut from the album without any real loss). But the best songs are saved for the end. Among the best on the album is "Watching TV", a song about Tiananman Square, and the tensions and potentials (both good and bad) involved with media reporting of this event. Awesome track, full of emotion and power. 'Three Wishes' (about the possibility of asking the Genie to grant three wishes, and the inevitable remorse associated with one's choices), and 'It's a Miracle' (about the emptiness of seeing market relations and market power as some sort of benevolent force, or God), are both excellent. The latter tune uses some dark humour to get back at Andrew Lloyd Webber's use (theft?) of the Echoes theme for Webber's stage version of Phantom of the Opera. And of course, the title track that closes the album is awesome. Really, the last half of this album is fantastic, essential, and it could have been a five-star album if some of the weaker material in the first half had been left off (especially considering how long this album is). Overall, I would highly recommend picking this up. I give this 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is the same score I gave to 'Pros and Cons', and translates to (high) 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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