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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

3.05 | 341 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars The ever fascinating drama that was Pink Floyd faced a new chapter around the time that "The Wall" was created. After amassing unthinkable success during the 70s with one classic album and world tour after another which catapulted the band as one of the most popular bands in all of rock history, the tensions naturally grew as the musicians evolved and the hunger for fortune and fame had long been satiated. The period around the making of "The Wall" was also a point of contention amongst the band members. Two key ideas had emerged at the same time, one being a series of demos that was to evolve into what was at the time conceived as "Bricks In The Wall" while another related concept revolved around a scatter brained road trip about a man experiencing a midlife crisis and fantasizing about scoring with a hitchhiker along the way.

PROS AND CONS, as it was initially referred to, was in competition with the themes that would become "The Wall," with the band members finally coming to the conclusion that the theme "Bricks In The Wall" suited the band's next move musically speaking and thus ROGER WATERS, the main songwriter of both concepts put PROS AND CONS on hold for a future date. As "The Wall" came and went and became yet another smashing success, the tension had reached the breaking point and by the time that "The Final Cut" was gestating, the band had all but broken up in spirit except they didn't quite know it yet. Once again WATERS pressed to pick up the PROS AND CONS theme as the next Floyd album. It was rejected which probably contributed to his leaving the band a few short years later.

In his own time, while officially still part of Pink Floyd, at least in name only, ROGER WATERS finished his own musical vision that evolved into what would ultimately be titled THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIKING. Never one to shy away from various topics ranging from exploitation, oppression, alienation, war and insanity, on his first solo album WATERS envisioned a man, not unlike himself, finding his world turned upside down as he struggles with the commitments of marriage and fidelity as he reaches the next chapter of his unsure life. The album is laid out in twelve dream sequences that shows this man facing his fears and paranoia and the album tackles a unique use of a stream of consciousness in a subconscious context. The release of THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIIKING marked the first time since 1969's "Ummaguma" where the world could witness WATERS' unique style of Pink Floyd's majestic sound isolated from the creative marriage of the group as a whole (the other three members had already released solo albums by this point.)

Conceptually speaking, PROS AND CONS excels as it displays WATERS' strengths that catapulted the great Floyd to international superstardom as he was the primary composer of lyrics and conceptual grandiosity. The album displays all the recognizable guitar tricks, chord progressions and tones and timbres of "The Wall," which makes all the sense in the world as it was born in the same fertile wellspring which spawned it. Despite the brilliance in the lyrical and conceptual realms, PROS AND CONS suffers from been- there-done-that syndrome as it tends to emulate many of the key aspects of "The Wall," with spaced out guitar riffs, chilled out soloing and occasional melodic runs that immediately bring parts of "The Wall" to the forefront. In fact, the whole thing sounds like it may have been the unwanted "Bricks" in the very "Wall" that the other band members rejected.

One of the major downsides of having an album revolve around dream sequences is that it's, well, too dreamy. The majority of the album is set on simmer with slow dreamy heart-felt angst riddling every nook and cranny as acoustic guitars strum, electric solos soar in the sky and the occasional burst of the sax and trombone wail away in the background. Add to that the cliche backing vocal arrangement that is straight out of "The Wall" playbook and it becomes apparent why the other Pink Floyd rejected the idea of a "Wall 2." Ultimately the album gets bogged down into too much introspective conceptualism and doesn't deliver the goods in the rock department. It only redeems itself awards the end as the title track offers the best track on board with a rambunctious hooky groove that allows some rocking out with an interesting guitar accompaniment by Eric Clapton and a stellar saxophone solo by David Sanborn.

THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIKING is by no means a throwaway album as it has its moments but there are ultimately too many references to "The Wall," and WATERS accomplishes little in separating his art from his lifelong band. In other words it shows him as a one trick pony who is incapable of exploring other musical arenas and is perpetually stuck on Pink Floyd mode. While that is forgivable as the album was after all created in the midst of the Pink Floyd era, the aspects i find harder to dismiss include the lack of variety amongst tracks and the downer vibe from the overly chilled out majority of the tracks. While no track per se is gawd awful, none other than the title track provide memorable melodic hooks either, an almost given for any Floyd album that emerged in the 70s, thus thrusting WATERS into the spotlight of being merely a part that makes up a more important sum. Elsewhere. This one is a fun spin once and a while but to call it essential would be giving it a little more relevance than it deserves.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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