Release Date: Jul 24, 2015
Record label: Columbia
Considering this album’s supporting cast – including Jeff Beck, Rita Coolidge, Don Henley and PP Arnold – you’d lazily surmise that Roger Waters needed all the help he could get in 1992, when Amused To Death was first released. In fact, the former Floyd bassist/backbone/ bogeyman was at his most bleakly inspired since the cautionary parable of The Wall. Remodelled herein with a hermetic remaster and a 5.1 remix that accentuates the uncanny spatial characteristics of its QSound construction, Amused To Death gnaws its fingernails to the quick as quiescent mankind devolves, fatally, in front of the telly.
The spectre of Pink Floyd looms large over Roger Waters. Whether he wants it to or not, the ghost of the band he so famously quit in the early 1980s still has an indisputable association with him, and despite a good 30-odd years of trying to shake it off, it’s something that he’s never quite managed to do - ironically due to the last three or four Floyd records being so heavily controlled by him alone. The present finds Waters somewhat more comfortable in his own skin, however, and this delve into his archives is a very welcome addition to his solo catalogue.
“Give any one species too much rope/and they’ll fuck it up” is the cheery sentiment on Roger Waters’ Amused to Death. Originally released in 1992, the concept album imagined a future where the human race is lulled into oblivion by watching too much TV. Now, with people able to carry around their own entertainment devices 24/7, it seems remarkably prophetic—and sad, given that Waters’ warnings about the dangers of letting society become increasingly dumbed down have been so blithely overlooked.
Ex-Pink Floyd bassist/songwriter Roger Waters hasn’t had a “proper” solo album since 1992’s Amused to Death, and it wasn’t exactly heavily trumpeted at the time of its release. The newly liberated Waters did make a minor splash on AOR radio in 1987 with a few cuts from his second solo release Radio K.A.O.S., but the Waters-less Floyd more or less stole that year from him with the blockbusting A Momentary Lapse of Reason and its subsequent tour. By the time Waters unleashed Amused to Death, everyone’s appreciation for the progressive/classical rock dinosaurs of yesteryear had been blunted by the Seattle scene’s inadvertent takeover.
Roger WatersAmused to Death (Reissue)(Sony/Legacy)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars “Go big or go home” seems to be the motto by which Roger Waters lives. From his lofty concept albums both with and after Pink Floyd to the recent mammoth world tour of The Wall that expanded the vistas of combining music and visuals with jaw dropping results, the auteur has plenty of grandiose ideas and, perhaps most importantly, the financial wherewithal to realize them. The resounding success of The Wall production put Waters–who hadn’t released a solo studio set since 1993–back on the musical map.
The term “lighthearted” and the name Roger Waters have never appeared in the same context, and if Waters’ increasingly edgy façade is any indication, they likely never will. Where Syd Barrett was the madcap core of Pink Floyd’s psychedelic flirtations, and Gilmour, Wright and Mason were the enthusiastic fellow travellers, Waters was the band’s existential visionary, the musician who’s fatalistic concepts and futuristic mindset helped lay the course for the band’s biggest breakthroughs, specifically Dark Side of the Moon and its even more foreboding follow-up, The Wall. And yet, for all the internal friction that eventually tore the band asunder, Waters has steadfastly clung to those conceptual ideals in his solo career, not only recreating The Wall repeatedly in performance, but also doggedly clinging to those brooding themes in his individual works as well.