The great singer and songwriter Roger Waters is 71 today. He is best known as the longtime front-man for the band Pink Floyd. And toward the end of tenure with the band, he pretty much took it over. The last album he did with them, The Final Cut, is better thought of as the first Roger Waters solo album.
At this point, I find Waters’ work generally a bit too much. But there is no question of his genius. His best work was the middle period of Pink Floyd when the other members of the band were able to dilute his excesses. His best work is found on Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. By the time of Animals, it was clear that things were getting out of hand. And The Wall, which is a brilliant album, signaled the end of Pink Floyd as a collaboration. At that point, Waters’ work was too personal and it was right that David Gilmour took over the band and Waters went on to solo work.
I haven’t paid that much attention to his solo work. It is quite good but I feel like I’ve gotten as much out of Waters as I can. And now some of his clichés drive me crazy. The biggest example is his tendency to jump from very quiet sections to very loud sections. Although things like Jesus Christ Superstar have been called rock operas, Waters work is really the only thing I know of that I think deserves the term. That’s high praise coming from me. But I am rarely in the mood.
Here is the video from the title track from Roger Waters’ first official solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. It is a great example of everything that is good and bad about Waters. I especially think it is a weak concept of a man having a vaguely contiguous series of nightmares. But it does show how he can manage to create an interesting album with the thinnest of ideas. The album also features some of the best work I’ve ever heard by Eric Clapton.
Happy birthday Roger Waters!