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Roger Waters - Amused To Death CD (album) cover

AMUSED TO DEATH

Roger Waters

 

Crossover Prog

3.94 | 295 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars This album can be considered the last studio album by Roger Waters (I don't include Ca Ira in the list). There are a lot of clues about this being the last, but let discover them through the album. The first clue is the choice of the guitarist: When Syd Barrett was excluded by the Pink Floyd, the band looked for a guitarist and the choice was between David Gilmour and Jeff Beck. Having chosen Jeff Beck for Amused to Death is like saying "Let's see what could have been...".

The album opens with a short instrumental "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard". Also the two Floyd's albums without Waters open in a similar way, but the story told by some Alf Razzel, a veteran, tells us everything we must know about Waters and his interior trouble connected to his missing father: Alf has to leave Bill die in a no-man's land. He's tormented. This is the second theme (officially the first) of the album. We are all amused to Death. After Bill's death we can switch to something more interesting.

Since "The Wall" Roger is used to songs splitted into 3 parts. "What God Wants" is the main theme of this concept. It's a classical Waters song with female background vocals, a strong leading guitar and an obsessive rhythm. "I don't mind about the war, that's one of the things I like to watch". It's how the song starts, just to confirm what the concept is about.

"Perfect Sense" is split into parts as well. Part 1 starts with a piano intro that seems coming directly from Radio K.A.O.S. The cello that can be heard just after the singing (talking) is started reminds to "The Body". It's like Waters is reviewing his life, while a female singer speaks of war and international politics. Money drives it all. This is the perfect sense he's speaking about. This is what Part 2 clarifies clearly.

"The Bravery of Being out of Range" is a high quality song that could have been added to The Wall. The keyboard intro sustained by guitar and drums, then Waters and his female counterparts singing about this kind of Bravery. Playing wars pushing buttons and moving joysticks, "Old timer what you'll gonna kill next", then let's swim in a pool or attend a party... A song about modern wars. Anzio and the second world war are far away. This is another hidden message, I think.

"Late Home Tonight Part 1" (Again a part 1) has an acoustic guitar opening. Also this song is similar in structure to Radio K.A.O.S. The subject is a young American soldier whose life is just "flight, flight, flight". This is, I think, about the bombing of Tripoli (Libia) when a daughter of the leader Khadafi was killed during the 80s. A soldier on a plane drops a bomb without knowing why or worse, without ASKING why. "And in Tripoli another ordinary wife Stares at the dripping her old man hadn't Time to fix Too busy mixing politics and rhythm In the street below " The rhythm of war drums and a baby crying complete the song until the bomb explodes.

Part 2 is just the soldier's homecoming "And the F-1 glides in nose-up Through the cloudbase and the Ground crew cheers as he puts down His landing gear Hey boy you're a hero take this cigar"

"Too much Rope" is a song that makes the pair musically with "Three Wishes" that is still to come. A short bluesy track with a good guitar on the back. The lyrics are strong instead and the few sentences below clarify the meanin better than I clould do:

"Moslem or Christian Mullah or Pope Preacher or poet who was it wrote Give any one species too much rope And they'll fuck it up "

"What God Wants Part 2 and 3" are here to close the circle. In the vinyl age they would have probably closed the album. As Jethro Tull said years before on Aqualung "Man created God in his image".

"But the monkey's not watching He's slipped out to the kitchen To pile the dishes And answer the phone "

When Part 3 starts there's a "ping" like at the beginning of Echoes. This is slow and bluesy with a piano base. A counterpart to the rocking part 1 and 2. The guitar solo is quite "gilmourish" and gives a reason why Jeff Beck has been about to join Pink Floyd.

What happens next is unexpected. "Watching TV" is still about TV and Death, but this time who is watching is not a Monkey. It's himself looking at the massacre of Tien-an-men Square in Beijing. I remember bad reviews of this song on newspapers. I don't remember what they were accusing him of. The poetry is not at his highest levels, but he has probably been one of the few persons in the western side of the world to say something meaningful about a bloody massacre of innocents happened in front of the whole world. The imaginary young girl "in her bloodstained clothes" is a symbol but could easily be real as this was the kind of targets of tanks and guns of the Li Peng army. Sorry for staying so much on this song, but I think that facts like this are good to remember. Also the fact that the responsibles of the massacre have been forgiven by the western world because of economic reasons demonstrates that Waters is right: "It all makes perfect sense".

"Three Wishes" is the key to the second message. It's a bluesy song very Floydian and the only song that contains an explici reference to his father. It's like he has realized that an over-60 man can't consider himself an orphan for all his life. This song closes the circle started with The Wall. His life-long sickness for his missing father is now cured. You see someone through the window Who you've just learned to miss

This was a good thing for Waters but I'm afraid this is also the reason why he didn't release other studio albums. Once his pain is finished he doesn't feel the need to mitigate it by writing music and lyrics.

There are still two songs before the end: "It's a Miracle" opens with keyboard and bass reminding to "Careful with that Axe Eugene". The Miracle he's speaking about is the globalization. I don't know if he's a no-global, but he doesn't semm to like globalization very much. What he says is that we have exported all our products, cultural and material with our wars. I disagree when he mentions Lloyd-Webber as I liked JCS very much, but I can't disagree with all the rest.

"By the grace of God Almighty And the pressures of the marketplace The human race has civilized itself "

The closure act is the title track: "Doctor what is wrong with me?" what is amazing is the second part of the story told by the veteran. The end of the ballad of Bill Hubbard. The veteran is tormented until he sees Bill's name on a monument. Now Bill stops being a phantom in his mind and becomes a "real" person. This is the healing. Roger Waters is implicitly saying that his father is no longer the main character of a nightmare. He is now a real person who had a real life and a real death. Now also the child of the Wall can relax and look at the future.

Have a happy life now, Roger.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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