Review: "Amused to Death" (Reissue) - Roger Waters

by David Spencer, Noise11

On his recent Desert Island Discs appearance, Noel Gallagher included a Pink Floyd track from The Wall, admitting that he would "lick the face" of Roger Waters, so in awe was he of the man's talents. One can't imagine two rock performers that come from such different ends of the spectrum and it would be interesting to hear Waters' view of Gallagher. Whatever you think though, the Oasis man has a point about the Pink Floyd star's talent as this 1992 solo album proves.

In the 23 years since its release, the only new material from Waters has been the odd track and an opera. Hardly productive. In recent years he has taken his huge Wall show around the world, so has had little time to develop new material. So fans are left with revisiting one of his finest pieces of work for now. Amused to Death is a startling assessment of consumer society, raging as it does at mass media, greed, war and prejudice. Much of it sounds as relevant in 2015 as it did in 1992. That sad indictment on the progress of society, is also an endorsement of Waters' powerful thinking.

Littered with guests, including Don Henley (Watching TV) and Jeff Beck (Three Wishes), the album is at its best when Waters' harsh vocal is balanced by the warm voices of Katie Kissoon and Doreen Chanter, such as on the anthemic Perfect Sense 2. There are bleak references to wasted lives through unnecessary wars, like on The Bravery of Being Out Of Range; "I saw the frontline boys popping their pills, sick of the mess they find". "Give any one species too much rope and they'll fuck it up" Waters declares on Too Much Rope, and you find yourself nodding along, in grim recognition that he's probably right.

It's a shame Waters has not been more productive in the last twenty years, because Amused To Death is a triumph. The final four song sweep is amongst his best work. Perhaps he could be inspired for a 2015 follow up. That might see sprinklings of more modern references, such as UKIP, Syria and migrants as well as reality TV perhaps, but the message would still be the same. At one point here, Waters imagines a piano lid breaking the fingers of Andrew Lloyd Webber (he's not a fan) and you wonder whether his 2015 invective might be aimed at the aforementioned Noel Gallagher, given his confession to 'nicking' a few Floyd things over the years!

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