Roger Waters - Amused To Death (Sony MasterSound Gold SBM CK 64426)
APE | Cue + Log | 360 MB | Playtime: 72:36 min
APE | Cue + Log | 360 MB | Playtime: 72:36 min
1. The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard (4:19)
2. What God Wants, Part I (6:00)
3. Perfect Sense, Part I (4:16)
4. Perfect Sense, Part II (2:50)
5. The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range (4:42)
6. Late Home Tonight, Part I (4:00)
7. Late Home Tonight, Part II (2:13)
8. Too Much Rope (5:47)
9. What God Wants, Part II (3:40)
10. What God Wants, Part III (4:07)
11. Watching TV (6:07)
12. Three Wishes (6:50)
13. It's A Miracle (8:30)
14. Amused To Death (9:08)
Roger Waters – synthesizer, bass, guitars, vocals
Andy Fairweather-Low – acoustic, rhythm and electric guitars, vocals
Graham Broad – percussion & drums
Jeff Beck – guitars
Rita Coolidge – vocals
P.P. Arnold – vocals
Doreen Chanter – vocals
Michael Kamen – arranger, conductor
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Katie Kissoon – vocals
John Patitucci – bass and electric guitars
Jeff Porcaro – drums
John "Rabbit" Bundrick – organ
(Plus additional personnel)
Produced by Roger Waters, Patrick Leonard & Nick Griffiths
This album was recorded in the period 1988-1992, and released in September 1992 as Roger Waters’ third solo album. As you see the recording sessions for this album spawned over a 5 year period.
The quality on this album is considerably better than the quality of his two other solo records (The Pros And Cons of Hitch Hiking and Radio KAOS). Mainly because of the quality of the songs, the sound and the more consistent, serious and important concept Amused To Death has.
The musicianship of this album is irreproachable; everything sounds perfect down to the note. Roger Waters has got a strong team of musicians with him on this album. Many of them are among my favourite musicians, like Andy Fairweather-Low, Jeff Beck, Don Henley and Michael Kamen.
What Roger Waters have created with Amused To Death is devotional. Never have I heard so well-written songs, great lyrics and so much emotion on any other album.
Amused To Death is mainly built around Roger Waters’ feelings and his disillusionment with the Western modern society and the influence of the mass media.
The concept is based around a monkey how is swapping through different channels on the television, and thus exploring different political and social themes like war and religion.
This is probably a bad explanation; you really have to listen to the album to explore the greatness of this concept album.
The album is mixed in QSound to enhance the spatial feel of the audio, and the many Waters-style sound effects on the album — rifle range ambience, sleighbells, cars, planes, distant horses and dogs all make use of the 3-D facility. This album's stellar audio quality also caught the attention of renowned audio mastering guru Bob Katz, who placed Amused to Death on his Honor Roll List of Good-Sounding Pop CDs. This is a limited "MasterSound" edition.
The album starts with “The Ballad of Bill Hubbard”, a heart gripping ‘instrumental’. I put instrumental in quotation marks because the song really builds around World War I veteran Alf Razzell telling the story about how he found fellow soldier Bill Hubbard fatally wounded on the battlefield, and how Razzell is forced to leave Hubbard in no man’s land. This is, of course a true story, and Razzell tells it with such insight and emotions. It’s a sad story, enough to make one cry. Jeff Beck provides some gripping lead guitar playing and the whole sound of this song is just perfect. It the exact right atmosphere for Razzell to tell his story in. Listening to this song I realise I can’t describe how tragically beautiful it is. This is quite possibly the greatest album opener ever.
The TV changes channel jarring sound and a woman (or girl) can be heard talking. She says “I don't mind about the war. That's one of the things I like to watch, if it's a war going on. Cos then I know if, um, our side's winning, if our side's losing…” before she is interrupted by a new jarring channel change and some monkey shrieking. “What God Wants, Pt. 1” starts kind of haunting with the soft and sad voices of the lady singers repeating the phrases “What God wants, God gets, God help us all” A howling chorus repeats the phrases while it builds gradually up. Jeff Beck then really kicks the song going with a marvellous and groovy guitar solo. The women repeats the same phrases in a more groovy and upbeat way accompanied by Beck’s soloing and great rhythm playing. The bass line is also unbelievably groovy. Roger Waters kick in with the vocals. He sound a little old, but it’s not bad. It’s actually extremely great, and Roger gives us everything. It is no secret that Roger Waters has been losing some of his voice over the years, but I swear that not much of what he did as a vocalist in Pink Floyd (which was GREAT) can compare with the vocals he delivers here. Of course the lyrics are genius, taking up the relevant theme about dogmatic religion and the power it has over man. Beck provides some kick as guitar licks and solos here and there and Fairweather-Low’s rhythm guitar really makes this song groove.
Beck’s end solo ends abruptly as the channel once again changes to “Perfect Sense, Pt. 1” which starts with some soft drums, a beautiful piano theme and Roger Waters doing some gibberish (backwards message? yes, it is). Roger then starts singing softly along with the piano, after he’s done some singing P. P Arnold sings a solo part with her powerful and great voice.
“Perfect Sense, Pt. 1” leads directly to “Perfect Sense, Pt. 2”. I’ve always looke upon these two songs as a whole, and you really need both of them to make the best of it. Part 2 is more sped up. Marv Albert of the NBA does a mock commentary, making it sound like a basketball match while he’s actually talking about an oil rig being attacked by a submarine. This song is very clever written, and the chorus is great: “Can’t you see/It all makes perfect sense/Expressed in dollars and cents/Pounds shillings and pence/Can’t you see/It all makes perfect sense” Great lyrics (of course), and very well performed. This song is a critique of the First Gulf War.
“The Bravery of Being Out Of Range” is one of my absolute favourites songs. It kicks in hard with a steady drum beat and a heavy guitar. The lyrics are fantastic, being about the development warfare has had and how “these laser guided bombs” can hit targets 3,000 miles away ("Just love those laser guided bombs/They’re really great/For righting wrongs/You hit the target/And win the game/From bars 3,000 miles away"), hence the expression “the bravery of being out of range”. Roger is singing with a satirical voice, taking a stab at certain politicians ("Does the recoil remind you/Remind you sex/Old man what the hell you gonna kill next/Old timer who you gonna kill next"). I really love the lyrics for this song. It’s fabulous musically too, with great vocals and great musicianship. It’s just a great rock song.
The next song, “Late Home Tonight, Pt. 1” starts out as a stark contrast from “The Bravery of Being Out Of Range” with some birds twittering and a cosy acoustic guitar. Roger Waters’ vocals are beautifully soft, and this is one of the most touching songs on the album, and it really makes you think. Some lines that really stand out to me are “But that’s okay see the children bleed/It’ll look great on the TV” The song ends with some crazy native rhythm playing before the noise ends with a missile crashing through the speakers. A great effect.
“Late Home Tonight, Pt. 2” is the part after the missile hit. It’s kind of patriotic in a sarcastic way. The song is basically Roger Waters singing accompanied by Michael Kamen and the orchestra. It’s great, none the less.
Some weird, hitting sound effects (a man chopping firewood?) and a sleigh passing by with ringing bells. Now, the lyrics for “Too Much Rope” really are great. The song is about the results of intolerance in religion, but it also takes up several other themes. The chorus stands out both musically and lyrically: "You don’t have to be a Jew/To disapprove of murder/Tears burn my eyes/Moslem or Christian Mullah or Pope/Preacher or poet who was it wrote/Give any one species too much rope/And they’ll f**k it up". Waters sings this with such emotion, and it sound fabulous. Especially on the third chorus; Roger sings a tone way too high pitched for his voice, but he hits it… barley. But that’s what’s so great about it! He pushes his voice beyond all rational logic, he doesn’t nail the tone to the point, but it just sounds great. “Too Much Rope” is an amazing song, the organ sound fantastic and the guitar work is great.
“What God Wants, Pt. 2” fades in with some kind of preacher preaching before the women voices (like the ones in “What God Wants, Pt. 1”) enter. This song is pretty similar to Pt. 1 in it’s structure. The theme is still about religion, but also about worshipping money and about materialism. This is probably the best vocal presentation by Roger Waters on this album, very reminiscent of his days in Pink Floyd. It’s rather short, and it doesn’t really need more time as it’s kind of the same throughout.
“What God Wants, Pt. 3” fades in with some effects that immediately brings Pink Floyd to mind. The clean guitar hits a chord and Waters starts singing. Pt. 3 is nothing like the other “What God Wants” parts. My favourite part of the lyrics for this song is: “And in banks across the world/Moslems Hindus Jews/And people of every/Race creed colour tint or hue/Get down on their knees and pray” It’s a beautiful, notable for Jeff Beck’s lengthy and emotional guitar solo. Beck has this perfect tune that’s just to die for, and what he does on this song is unbelievably beautiful, and when Roger Waters starts singing again after the solo he really gives everything of himself. So much emotion, and what a voice! When he sings the lines: “Christ it’s freezing inside/The veteran cries/The hyenas breaks cover/And stream through the meadow/And the fog rolls in/Through his bottle of gin”
Then a beautiful acoustic piece called "Watching TV". It is about he influence of mass media on the Chinese protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square. It is One of my all time favourite songs both musically and lyrically. Roger uses his wonderful soft voice, and the acoustic guitar is really catchy. The Eagles singer Don Henley provides some stunning harmony vocals on this song. Henley’s and Waters’ voice goes along so perfectly well. The song has a dramatic breakdown in the middle where a Chinese women can be heard speaking. Then the song builds up more, and a piano enters. Like I said, Roger and Don do an amazing job with the vocals, especially when the song is at its peak near the end. The last lines are so tragic and wonderful: “She’s the one in fifty million/Who can help us to be free/Because she died on TV”
“Watching TV” fades into the song “Three Wishes”. This is a very groovy song, and very personal compared to the rest of the album, referring directly to Waters’ loss of his father. It is about regret, love and differences. Roger delivers some emotional and great lyrics ("I said well/I wish they were all happy in the Lebanon/Wish somebody’d help me write this song/I wish when I was young/My old man had not been gone” Jeff Beck plays the lead guitar on this track as well, and lays down a groovy solo.
“It’s A Miracle” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever. This song is about contrasts in the world, and the difference between poor and rich. The piano is to die for, and the vocals are stunning. It’s a very soft song, but I love listening to it while dreaming myself away, and thinking about a better tomorrow for all the people who suffer everyday, while I’m here in abundance. I think it’s hard to pull out any excerpts from the lyrics, but these really stand out to me: “We got warehouses of butter/We got oceans of wine/We got famine when we need it/Got designer crime/We’ve got Mercedes/We’ve got Porsche/Ferrari and Rolls Royce/We’ve got choice"
A song that can make the strongest man cry. Also, the last lines are pretty amusing too. It’s about a conflict between Roger Waters and Andrew Lloyd-Webber where Waters claimed that Lloyd-Webber had stolen exact parts from the Pink Floyd song “Echoes” in his “The Phantom of the Opera”. Waters decided not to press charges against him, but included this in “It’s A Miracle” instead: “We cower in our shelters/With our hands over our ears/Lloyd-Webbers awful stuff/Runs for years and years and years/ An earthquake hits the theatre/And the operetta lingers/Then the piano lid comes down/And breaks his f**king fingers/It’s a miracle” This song also has a gripping end guitar solo.
The final track is also the title track. “Amused To Death” is amazingly well written and constructed very good. It’s pretty up-lifting in the beginning. I don’t really know what to say about this song, it’s so great it’s hard to explain. I like the second part of the song the best, when a heavy electric guitar kick in and Roger Waters lifts the vocals up. “Amused To Death” is a perfect album ender; it really rounds everything off. Ends with the lines that just lingers in your head afterwards: “No tears to cry/No feelings left/This species has amused itself to death/Amused itself to death”
The song the fades out with Alf Razzell talking about when he found Bill Hubbard’s name in the memorial. How enlightened he felt seeing his name. Because now Bill Hubbard weren’t just a nightmarish person in his mind anymore.