Thursday, January 27, 2011

Roger Waters 1: The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking

Immediately after unleashing The Final Cut, Roger went back to the studio to record his first solo album, originally concocted back before The Wall. What eventually emerged as The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking had been rejected by the other Floyds as “too personal”, and no matter how many times one listens to it, they were right.
At least the concept is intriguing: following the dream/nightmares of a man in the pre-dawn hours, presented in real time, and each of the songs is time-stamped. For roughly 42 minutes Roger muses over the same I-iv motif in 12/8 meter; sound effects and dialogue snippets abound, and if there’s a story in here, it’s not linear. He’s driving with his wife, they pick up a pair of hitchhikers and he attempts intercourse with one of them. His guilt is repaid by an attack by Arab terrorists who assault his wife, so he imagines himself away at Oktoberfest. He makes an attempt to save his marriage by moving out to the country, which soon goes awry. Then poof! He himself is a hitchhiker, eventually realizes that his problems aren’t that different from the rest of humanity, feels better, wakes up scared and is relieved to find his wife sleeping by his side.
With only a few exceptions, it’s one long song. Rolling Stone’s Kurt Loder said it best: “You could count the actual melodies here on Mickey Mouse’s fingers.” The ones that stand out are recycled from “Mother”, “The Final Cut”, “In The Flesh” and “The Fletcher Memorial Home”, and the effect isn’t so much clever self-reference but laziness and lack of inspiration. “Sexual Revolution” attempts to provide a beat, but it turns out this was a Wall reject. He delivers “Go Fishing” so histrionically it’s no wonder she left him in the country. The title track is catchy, but the cryptic references to Yoko Ono, Dick Tracy and Shane only make it seem like another dream. The song everyone likes is “Every Stranger’s Eyes”, which is mostly one of his litany lists, but has enough of a decent backing to make it soar.
At least the album is “Floydian” in its presentation. He uses most of the supporting players from The Final Cut, with the key additions of Eric Clapton (for a Strat tone, and a thumb of the nose to David Gilmour) and David Sanborn, whose squawking sax underscores his discomfort anytime thinks get dark. He took Clapton on the road to present the album and key songs from his past in a multimedia extravaganza. But ultimately, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking is just plain uncomfortable, leaving the listener in a bad mood and likely to lash out at unsuspecting friends and family. And if anyone can explain what exactly those pros and cons are, we’d love to know.

Roger Waters The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking (1984)—2

4 comments:

  1. Nice take Wardo, I've always found this to be a "thick" listen.

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  2. Agreed. I am glad you're doing Waters, though (IIRC you earlier said that you didn't plan to) --I'm interested to see how you rate the three albums relative to each other.

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  3. I didn't plan to, but then I came across a Maxell of this and Radio KAOS. (I've got too many positive reviews on the blog anyway.) Stay tuned!

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  4. I just want to thank you for posting the uncensored version of the album cover.

    Vance

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