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Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking CD (album) cover

THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCH HIKING

Roger Waters

 

Crossover Prog

2.98 | 211 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is the first post-Floyd album released by Waters. By 1984, "Old Grumpy Boots" (in quotation marks because, apparently, he is anything but in the flesh, as it were) had left the band with which he made untold riches, and, ironically, Nick Mason confirmed that this was the best thing for his old band he could possibly have done, for, if he had "stayed", they would never have made another record.

This album was actually, in demo form, trailed to the rest of the Floyd when they got together to record the follow-up to Animals, when they were in the direst possible financial straits owing to being ripped off left, right, and centre by Norton Wahlburg. He also played them a demo of "Another Brick", and the rest is, of course, history.

Waters was, though, sufficiently interested in the project to resurrect it for the first part of his plan for world domination on his own. He assembled a rather stellar cast, the most stellar, of course, being Eric Clapton on lead guitar, and, by God, what a contribution the great blues guitarist makes. The whole album, as a result of this contribution, is a damn sight better than it ever would have been in his absence, and he lends to it a thoroughly, well, bluesy feel, dark, almost satanic in places, but also wonderfully evocative and moody.

Only one of the tracks survived to make it to subsequent Waters solo tours, this being the incredible and exceptional 5:06 a.m. (Every Stranger's Eyes), and it is here that you listen to this and really do wish Clapton had stayed a little bit longer (he left the project on the US leg of the subsequent, and not overly financially successful, tour) to see where the collaboration would have gone. It is a track that is steeped with emotional bitterness and sexual repression, and, as with much else on the album, it is, actually, nice to hear Waters pull together a concept that has little to do with politics, the war, or dear old dad (and I say this as a huge fan of the man and his music/lyrics, by the way).

The story, such as it is, centres around a chap driving along picking up a rather luscious female hitch-hiker (the cover, at the time, really upset the rampant feminist movement), and, in real time, tells us of his desires and dreams surrounding said female, most of which are utterly put down or repressed. One critic, in a very enthusiastic burst at the time, said that Waters would make a fine "quack". Most of the rest of the population actually thought he should go and see one.

As with much else of what the great man has done, it is impossible to single out too much as standout, because it is a continuous narrative that needs to be listened to in the round, but I, for one, absolutely love the female backing vocals and the whole blues ethos of the album. For no better example of these put together, listen to 4:47 a.m. (The Remains Of Our Love). The single from the album, the title track, is also huge fun.

However, as much as I enjoy this album, you have to say that, on this occasion, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright were right to reject it as a project. In hindsight, I regard this, and the follow up Radio Kaos, as a man unburdening himself from the rigours of a band he ended up hating, finding himself as an artist in his own right, and building himself up in both ways to the utter masterpiece that Amused To Death was and remains to this day.

It is all rather too bitty to be described as a classic, and an album which I listen to only occasionally these days. But, when I do, I am reminded that it is a good album, and hearing David Sanborn's exceptional saxophone on 4:50 a.m. (Go Fishing) and the whole blues feel, you wonder just what he would have come up with had he continued to develop this theme and way of writing/playing. I think it would have been exceptional.

I will not pretend that this is an essential album for Pink Floyd fans. It is not. What it is, though, is a very good album that will be enjoyed by those who enjoy something "out of the prog box", and class musicianship throughout. Oh, and Clapton/blues fans as well.

Three stars for this. It would get a lot better, but it wasn't such a bad start, you know.

lazland | 3/5 |

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