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


Roger Waters


Crossover Prog

2.97 | 275 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars An album which has attracted massively negative comments on this site, and, in truth, in the wider music community. Indeed, I remember reading a review of this at the time of release in The Independent newspaper which concluded with the quote: "Mr Waters, Sir, you are mad".

Well no, he's not. This is a loose concept album, based around a profoundly disabled Welsh kid named Billy, who can only communicate via radio waves, who strikes up a friendship with an LA disc jock, tells the story of how his brother, a striking coal miner, was jailed for throwing a boulder off of a bridge killing a taxi driver (this is based on an actual event in the 1980's coal miners' strike in the UK), and then foretelling the ultimate nuclear fight, before making an upbeat statement on how the ultimate holocaust might be averted following the world coming together in Live Aid.

In other words, your typical Waters day at the office!

There is some great music in here, and it is always a hugely emotional album. Who Needs Information is the brother story, and it oozes bitterness and regret over the treatment by Thatcher of the coal miners, their industry, and the communities which were decimated by the foolhardiness of both sides. The brass section is fantastic on this, as is the Welsh Male Voice Choir chanting gently in the background. This was, by the way, the Pontarddulais Male Voice Choir, based just a few short miles from where I live.

They also make a massive contribution to The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid), and I find the signature vocal extremely uplifting.

Elsewhere, the acoustic guitar and Waters keyboards effects on Me Or Him, combined with a wistful and plaintive vocal when the boy gets jailed for his crime, is as good as anything Waters has committed to vinyl. The bass line is something else as well. Taut and full of emotion, together with a hilarious radio line parodying Reagan, I love this track.

All in all, I think this is a hugely underrated album. I suppose if you think that Waters is the devil incarnate, then nothing will persuade you that this is anything other than awful. If, however, you are open to the idea that this represented the true spirit of Floyd, with exceptional songwriting, musicianship, and political commentary, as compared with the relatively anodyne stuff that the official band were putting out at the time, then this album is for you.

Please do not consider this to be a "Waters goes pop" album (not that there would be anything wrong with that in itself). No, there are no boy meets girl, takes her to bed for a lovely lay types of songs here. This is a serious piece of work by a very serious artist and commentator.

Four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

lazland | 4/5 |


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