In the year following the last Floyd album, the band’s two creative leads took their own paths away from the band. Roger Waters recorded his first bona fide solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, an impenetrable song cycle about a nightmare in real time, most notable for featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar throughout, along with all the non-Floyd musicians from The Final Cut.
David Gilmour’s own album was, as would be expected, much more accessible. About Face is simply a collection of songs that resembled his band’s more radio-friendly moments. A variety of session cats provide the support, and Floydian touches persist, particularly on the intentionally overblown instrumental “Let’s Get Metaphysical”, where his distorto guitar is backed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
In general, the songwriting is much more consistent than the alternating vocals and instrumentals of his first solo album. In fact, two tracks feature lyrics by Pete Townshend, just to be on the safe side. “Love On The Air” is almost romantic, with a pretty melody and typically obtuse concept, while “All Lovers Are Deranged” is an all-out rocker.
There’s a good deal of breadth on the album as well. “Murder” takes a plaintive English folk melody and extends it into one of the better songs about the death of John Lennon. Another highlight, “You Know I’m Right”, is a clever slap at Roger that eerily predicts his behavior by a few years. Just to show that Roger wasn’t the only one concerned about war and mortality, “Cruise”, “Near The End” and “Out Of The Blue” consider the futility of life from a variety of angles.
Unfortunately, About Face does suffer from the polish common to many ‘80s albums, particularly on the synth-heavy “Until We Sleep”, and “Blue Light”, which has way too many horns. But as a product, a listenable album that’s worth playing, fans wouldn’t be disappointed.
David Gilmour About Face (1984)—3½