(All Album Reviews by Sean)
Roger Waters work since he left Pink Floyd has been an interesting blend of music. More often than not his solo albums echo his work with Floyd. Which is enough to wonder if maybe he was the one that was 'Pink' after all. Amused To Death is Waters third CD of all original music. Of the three solo albums he has released, Amused is my favorite for a number of reasons.
First of all it's his longest solo album. Created in age of CDs, Amused clocks in at close to an hour. That gives you all the more great Waters music to enjoy. Second, it's the most overtly Floydish album he has made. As I said, all of his solo efforts echo Floyd, but this one reeks of it! And that's great as far as I'm concerned. All the great sound effects, dry lyrical imagery and cool segues that Floyd used so well are here on Amused too. And the similarities don't stop there...
Amused was released around the same time as Pink Floyd's Division Bell CD. Both CDs look back upon the classic Floyd sound with reverence. But somewhere along the way, Waters captures the magic while the guys in the Floyd camp merely skim it and come off sounding not entirely convincing. In short, Waters’ Amused CD sounds more like classic Floyd than the Pink Floyd CD that was soon to be released!
How does he do it? Well, Amused is a concept album and that offers a lot of opportunities for thematic unity. This makes for a more interesting listening experience (for me anyway). The ills of the media and their effect on society are the focus of Waters’ concept. He dubs us a species that has "Amused it's self to death", just let everything slide while in search of entertainment. A lot is left to your imagination. Not unlike Floyd's concept albums The Wall or Animals, Waters never spells it all out for you in black and white. He leaves you to draw some conclusions of your own.
Another thing I love about this album is the fact that Waters got Jeff Beck (one of my faves) to play on it! Apparently Waters had heard Beck's Guitar Shop album and was very impressed with that. Soon he started badgering Beck to come play on his album. Eventually Beck gave in and did. The result is excellent. While Beck is not on every track, he's on the biggies. His work on the opening cut alone is worth the price of admission. His one of a kind style is a great compliment to this music. It's cool to hear him in such a Floydish setting. He pulls some licks out of his bag that I am sure even David Gilmour would be impressed with. I remember how much I liked hearing Eric Clapton on Waters first solo LP, The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking. It was great to hear him play on some music that was out of his usual element. Something a little darker. On Amused, Beck's involvement is great for the same reason.
Standout tracks would be "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard" - Beck is top notch on this, very lyrical. "What God Wants"- a very rocking tune, again Beck rips it to shreds. "The Bravery Of Being Out of Range"- sounds a lot like "In The Flesh" or something from the Wall era. And the mellow but biting "It's A Miracle" is superb too- I love the line about the earthquake hitting a theatre where Andrew Lloyd Weber is playing his "awful crap". Eventually the piano lid comes down and "breaks his fucking fingers". Sounds like someone has an axe to grind! Everything else is great too, you really can't go wrong here, this is a very strong album.
Also notable are the lyrics. In my opinion this is one of Waters best albums lyrically. They attack the topic at hand and make the listener really think. Some of it is humorous, some of it makes you scratch your head and say "What?" and some of it is a dry as the Sahara. Which sums up Waters sense of humor in a nutshell. Dry.
Amused is a must have for fans of classic Pink Floyd or anyone that likes their rock conceptual and grand. The monkey is waiting for you, go pick him up.