by Nick DeRiso
Roger Waters, the primary creative force in Pink Floyd for a decade starting in the early 1970s, has seen his solo career suffer from inconsistency.
The same can’t be said for the 1992 album “Amused to Death,” since, like the great Floyd albums released so many years before it, Waters finally succeeds as a solo artist through a collaborative bond with a forceful and equally artful guitarist … this time, Jeff Beck.
Here, Waters again focuses on the problems of modern life — capitalism, war, mindless entertainment consumption.
Might sound familiar … but on “Amused to Death” we find far and away the best output of any of the “Dark Side”-era members from the period; it works in enjoyable contrast with what came before — the transitional, on-balance very unsatisfying “Momentary Lapse of Reason.” And it stands as the most coherent reiteration of Waters’ mindset — in particular after the confusing, too-wordy and too-synthy “Radio KAOS.”
Perhaps Waters’ best take on the conflict within organized religion (and that’s saying something) is found here in “What God Wants, Pt. 1.” Equally trenchant is his contempt for warlords in “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.”
A duet with the Eagles’ Don Henley, in the memorable meditation on the 1989 Chinese youth movement against Communism “Watching TV,” may be the most boldly beautiful thing he’s done.
Roger Waters is, quite simply, finally back on his game. He never lost anything, lyrically — but thankfully, with the help of long-time orchestral collaborator Michael Kamen (“The Wall,” “The Final Cut”) and Beck, the music once again matches his vocal intensity.
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