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Roger Waters - Radio K.A.O.S.  CD (album) cover

RADIO K.A.O.S.

Roger Waters

 

Crossover Prog

2.91 | 152 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Radio K.A.O.S." shakes off the sleep borne from Hitchhiking and delivers WATERS' most vibrant and vital entry since "The Wall". The concept is complicated: Billy, a young man in a wheelchair, receives radio waves in his head and uses them to communicate with a revolutionary radio deejay. Billy's brother, Benny, has been imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. Against this backdrop, Billy finds a way to manipulate the world's missile systems to simulate a nuclear attack, an act which sobers the world to the dangers of nuclear weapons and closes with the positive global response of Live Aid. (Don't panic: the inner sleeve explains all of this and includes the lyrics, which'll help you navigate through "Radio K.A.O.S."). It's a suitably momentous scale for WATERS' epic and idiosyncratic sound, although references to Libya show the strange misfortune he's had in not having experienced a battle big enough to cast his pacifist polemics without also marginalizing them. The music is the real story anyway: energized where Hitchhiking was impossibly languid, a surge of emotion similar in effect to "Not Now John" from The Final Cut, oddly danceable but still principled and compelling. Several singles were peeled from the complete painting, though as with most of WATERS' solo music these aren't individual songs but rather separate acts in a single play. What's most impressive about "Radio K.A.O.S.", and probably lost in the translation to the real radio waves, is the way that WATERS blends the dialogue from Billy (delivered in mechanized voice) and Jim, the cynical deejay who pre"Sides" over the album. (If memory serves, WATERS employed a radio tower complete with deejay inside on stage for the "Radio K.A.O.S." tour, perhaps as much to capture the audience's imagination as compete with the theatrical stagecraft of PINK FLOYD's A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour.)

The effect is engrossing, sometimes stunning, often entertaining, and as good an amalgam of stage and recording studio as fans could hope for. It's ambitious, as befits as large a talent as ROGER WATERS, and reveals more nuances with repeated sittings. "Radio K.A.O.S." is clearly the Waters album to tune into first.

daveconn | 4/5 |

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