Rick "Ojo" McGrath

In The Flesh : Roger Waters

Roger Waters: In the FleshSony Music, 2000.

Written by Roger Waters and David Gilmour, in various permutations, with a little help from exPink Floyders Richard Wright and Nick Mason.

Produced and Mixed by James Guthrie.

The Band: Roger Waters (guitar, vocals, and bass), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Snowy White (guitar), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar and vocals), Graham Broad (drums), Jon Carin (keyboards), Andy Wallace (keyboards), Katie Kissoon (vocals), Susannah Melvoin (vocals), and PP Arnold (vocals).

Which One's Pink?

For Pink Floyd fans, this double-cd of Roger Waters and band offers a great overview of The Floyd's stupendously successful musical career. In the two-hours plus of music culled from Roger's 1999-2000 "In The Flesh" tour of the U.S., we're treated to a fantastic catalogue of stuff from the glory days.

In fact, the playlist is extensive:

1. "In The Flesh" (from The Wall)
2. "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives" (from The Wall)
3. "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2" (from The Wall)
4. "Mother" (from The Wall)
5. "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" (from The Final Cut)
6. "Southampton Dock" (from The Final Cut)
7. "Pigs On The Wing, Part 1" (from Animals)
8. "Dogs" (from Animals)
9. "Welcome To The Machine" (from Wish You Were Here)
10. "Wish You Were Here" (from Wish You Were Here)
11. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-8)" (from Wish You Were Here)
12. "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" (from Saucerful Of Secrets)
13. "Breathe (In The Air)" (from Dark Side Of The Moon)
14. "Time" (from Dark Side Of The Moon)
15. "Money" (from Dark Side Of The Moon)
16. "Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking Part 11 (aka 5:06 a.m. - Every Stranger's Eyes)" (from The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking)
17. "Perfect Sense (Parts I and II)" (from Amused To Death)
18. "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range" (from Amused To Death)
19. "It's A Miracle" (from Amused To Death)
20. "Amused To Death" (from Amused To Death)
21. "Brain Damage" (from Dark Side Of The Moon)
22. "Eclipse" (from Dark Side Of The Moon)
23. "Comfortably Numb" (from The Wall)
24. "Each Small Candle" (new song)

Yeah, quite the lineup of tunes, and quite the band -- who are forced to play all the Pink Floyd stuff virtually note for note from the original. The Waters stuff done after Pink Floyd may or may not be the same. But who cares? You're not buying this album for Roger's live version of songs off Amused To Death or The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, anyways. The Waters album I like the best, Radio KAOS, didn't even make it. Irrelevant. This was Roger's Floyd Tour. And by and large, we get his version of The Floyd. After all, it's the same singer. The same bass lines. As for the guitar, well, it must make Dave Gilmour smile to see that Roger needs three axemen to copy his interstellar chops.

No, this is a very well-produced, tight and classy live performance album that cuts off and delivers piping hot Pink Floyd, just the way you remember it for the 15 years Dark Side of the Moon was on the Billboard charts. Roger's voice is still good, the band is exceptional, and the covers are virtually note-perfect -- except for Heart Of The Sun, where a cool sax solo and guitar workout replaces the electronic synthesizers of the original. Did I mention? This double cd set is long. It just goes on and on.

Which One's Floyd?

What makes all this shit interesting is how much it reveals of the idiot feud still unfolding between Waters and Gilmour. In the world of branding and marketing, Gilmour may have the edge, still holding rights to the Pink Floyd name, but it's easily arguable that the brand name doesn't mean much if it's not pumping Pink Floyd music anymore. On the other hand, the no-name Waters has the Pink Floyd voice and lyrics, but he just can't come up with Gilmour's spacey guitar lines.

Ultimately, one has to wonder what the deal is. Both these cats gotta be richer than God with the amount of music they've sold, and Roger's big argument for leaving -- he can't stand the power and glory of playing football arenas for megabucks -- seems pretty shallow for the multi-millionaire rock dinosaur he is. These guys have always been very practical and businesslike rock stars. One of the things I always liked about the Floyd was their penchant to get out and play golf when they toured. Imagine if Mick Jagger did that.

But they say the closer you were, the further you have to get apart, and one wonders if there's enough space on the planet for these two to comfortably share. The extensive booklet of pictures of Roger that comes with the cd is an extended diatribe against Gilmour, the glory-hound, money-grubbing bastard who would rather play big stadiums than intimate halls. Remember, this diatribe is from the same guy who wrote and produced The Wall -- probably the greatest exercise in egomaniac stadium excess ever produced by a bass player -- and that includes Paul McCartney.

Roger WatersRoger is also quick to point out that he and Syd Barrett were the guys who started Pink Floyd, and Gilmour was some add-on Waters found to replace the schizo Syd when he finally wigged out. Syd, of course, wigged out real early in the band's so-called career, which blew chunks until the boys discovered producer Alan Parsons and Waters came up with Dark Side of The Moon. Even more revisionist is Waters' complete memory loss of Nick Mason and Richard Wright, plus the fact Gilmour was hired as a rhythm guitarist to help Barrett out (he was lead guitar, but he was so stoned most of the time he could barely play). And just who was it who pulled the trigger on poor Syd, who was bounced from the band when one night they just didn't pick him up. I bet Roger was the Dodger on that call…

But all this is so much endless boogie. It's what you do when you've completely lost sight of reality. Why should we care?

Oh yeah, the review of the cd. Ultimately, it's live performance. Don't like The Floyd? Then ignore this. However, if you like the Pink Floyd canon, you'll love this updated version of the songs. The band is very competent -- you figger Roger was a little anal on the sound? -- and old Waters production hand James Guthrie brings all that wonderful sound to its best blended beauty. I can't imagine anyone out there who hasn't heard the original songs a zillion times, but this is a worthwhile effort, and you sure get a lot of music for your money. I said that already, didn't I?

OJO RATING: Ajo's rating

© Rick Ojo McGrath JAN/2001


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