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Richard Wright - Broken China CD (album) cover

BROKEN CHINA

Richard Wright

 

Crossover Prog

3.99 | 145 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It all depends what you're looking for

I like Richard Wright and believe he made strong contributions to the Floyd sound over their first decade. I'm sure it was not easy being the "George Harrison" of Pink Floyd often caught between two rather sizable musical egos. I admire his willingness to delve into the deeply personal subject matter of "Broken China" and I think it has some fine moments but I can't agree with many of my cohorts here that this is an "essential masterpiece of progressive rock." Far from it. "Broken China" is an unique album that is clearly "for fans" of two camps: Rick Wright fans (and I consider myself one) and fans of deep melancholy.

Compared with some other solo Floyd projects Broken China fares well.which of course isn't saying very much. The album runs too long (perhaps 10-15 minutes so) with the better moments separately by instrumental passages that just aren't compelling enough to survive repeat listens. Unlike other albums where the instrumentals are often full of great dynamics here they are mostly pretty dull keyboard noodlings and overly-produced session-sterile contributions. I must say I'm really disappointed with Rick's composition of his keyboard parts.given the emotional places he has taken me in the past he really missed the boat here. There was so much potential for him to shine here given the emotional subject matter and I don't believe he nailed it. Vocally I believe he did. Wright's average vocal ability is no problem for me, I rather like his singing and appreciated the raw openness of his style. O'Connor's vocal contributions to two tracks are a welcome change in dynamics even if she seems to be phoning them in. The heavy lyrics are quite good as you read them so it's yet another disappointment when you realize that Wright didn't write them. If ever an album cried out for the lyrics to be written by the artist it was this one. He may not be the greatest lyricist but he would have done just fine and the album's impact would have been far more gripping knowing they were from him. Imagine "Plastic Ono Band" had John made someone else handle the lyrics.I don't know that it would have had the same emotional meaning for people. Without getting into 16 individuals track I describe them collectively: slow, somber dirges with pain-filled vocals and occasionally interesting guitar lines. They succeed perfectly in making your body feel surreal and slow-mo as it may while going through a funeral and in that sense I would proclaim it a success.

I know that fans of this album will want to scream at me that the subdued, morose, flat-line pace of the album is an intentional choice to fit the subject matter of depression and I certainly understand that. I simply believe you could take a subdued/somber intent into the studio and make it far more interesting that Wright does here. I love what he's *trying* to do here and it is somewhat engaging the first few listens, I just don't believe he has made a lasting progressive work that anyone but his most fervent fans will wish to revisit in the way that they would, say, a Waters-era Floyd album. In the same way that Waters solo albums have something cool in them but lack the completeness of a Floyd album, the same is true here. By all means check this out if you enjoy solo Floyd albums-just realize it may be a title you play about once a year. A partial success mostly for harder core fans. 5/10

Finnforest | 2/5 |

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