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I Guess He's Not Amused
on September 1, 2003
I remember first hearing this 11 years ago, and being so pleased at how good this album was- and at how good Roger Waters' material still could be.
OK, this is not everyone's cup of tea. Certainly the reaction of some critics was less than effusive. 'Yet another doom laden LP' was a typical comment. And although I'm glad he's doing what he's doing, sometimes I do wish he'd lighten up a bit every now and then. The good news, though, is that this set contains some great songs, and has the feel of a Pink Floyd concept album without being a pale copy. Waters' love of the blues is comes through here (he was always responsibile for the bluesier part of the Floyd repertoire), especially since he has Jeff Beck play some amazing lead guitar. As usual, the songs are linked by an almost cinematic soundtrack of background sound. The first part has more concise rock songs, the highlights being 'What God Wants Part 1", 'Perfect Sense Part 2', and 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range'. Then we have 'What God Wants Part 3', which still sends shivers down my spine, especially that Beck guitar solo, followed by Waters yelling 'Christ it's freezing outside, the veteran cried". It also starts off with the same piano 'ping!' that started off Floyd classic 'Echoes', before Waters sings "Don't be afraid/It's only business"- a not-at-all subtle dig at his former collegues, but then Waters has never been known for his subtlety. Towards the end, the songd get longer, more droning and more atmospheric- Floyd fans will probably like it, those insisting on concise, to-the-point songs will not.
Waters does have a tendancy to put things on his albums that are there to advance the 'concept' of the album, which are too wordy and add too little of musical value. In my view, 'Late Home Tonight' Parts 1 and 2 are in that category. Another complaint- Waters (never much of a singer) does not sing so much as croak. I had thought this was because he was getting older, but in fact he would sing some of these songs much better seven years later when he performed them live. Sometimes, though, his vocal limitations do create a certain something that helps the song. For instance, on 'What God Wants, Part 1", he sounds like an old prophet warning of death and destruction- which is rather fitting.