Roger Waters created his solo masterwork with focused, trenchant Amused to Death

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Though he served as the primary creative force in Pink Floyd for a decade starting in the early 1970s, Roger Waters’ solo career has suffered by turns from inconsistency, repetitiveness and creative drought. He turned to a tried and true formula to overcome those stumbling blocks on Amused to Death, released on September 1, 1992.

Like the great Pink Floyd albums released so many years before it, Waters finally put together a tour de force solo effort by forging a collaborative bond with a forceful and equally artful guitarist. Only this time, instead of David Gilmour, it was Jeff Beck.

The subject matter finds Waters again focusing on the problems of modern life, from capitalism and war to mindless entertainment consumption. But the focused, trenchant Amused to Death unfolds as the most coherent reiteration of Waters’ mindset — in particular after the confusing, too-wordy and too-synthy Radio KAOS.

It also stands as the best single recording from any of the Dark Side of the Moon-era members of Pink Floyd in this era, easily eclipsing the transitional, on-balance unsatisfying Momentary Lapse of Reason.

Perhaps Roger Waters’ best take on the conflict within organized religion (and that’s saying something) was found on Amused to Death with “What God Wants, Pt. 1.” Equally trenchant is his contempt for warlords in “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.” Waters’ duet with the Eagles’ Don Henley called “Watching TV,” was a memorable meditation on the 1989 Chinese youth movement against Communism — and perhaps the most boldly beautiful thing he’s done.

Waters is, quite simply, finally back on his game. He hadn’t necessarily lost much lyrically — but thankfully, with the help of Jeff Beck (to say nothing of long-time orchestral collaborator Michael Kamen, who’d earlier worked on Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Final Cut), Roger Waters’ music once again matched his vocal intensity.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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