Title - 'Amused to Death'
Artist - Roger Waters
For those not in the know, Amused to Death is a concept album, and the third studio album by former Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters, originally released in 1992.
The album title was attached to material that Waters began working on during the Radio K.A.O.S. tour. It was several years before the album was released though and it is unknown how much the material was changed in the interim.
The album begins with the quietly building, gently spoken word of 'The Ballad of Bill Hubbard,' before transitioning into the stomping, fist shaking power of 'What God Wants, Part 1.' The next song is 'Perfect Sense, Part I', which begins with a loud, unintelligible rant, and then a backwards message voice by Waters: "Julia, however, in the light and visions of the issues of Stanley, we changed our minds. We have decided to include a backward message. Stanley, for you, and for all the other book burners." Before heading into 'Part II,' the message then climaxes with Waters yelling in the same aggressive Scottish voice he used to depict the character of the teacher in The Wall.
Rather like Meat Loaf did with his 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light' opus, 'Perfect Sense, Part II' includes a mid-section devoted to famed sportscaster Marv Albert narrating a war as if it were a basketball game. Backed by a massive choir singing their "global anthem",
it's followed by 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range' - a song that includes a reference to another song written by Waters on Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Animals.
'Late Home Tonight, Part I' recalls the 1986 US air strike against Libya from the perspective of two "ordinary wives" and a young American F-111 pilot, whilst the shorter 'Part II' recalls the honor of a "dignified" aftermath thereafter. 'Too Much Rope' begins with someone hammering nails into wood, followed by sleigh bells, before the storytelling begins.
With Amused to Death, Roger Waters sounded the alarm about a society increasingly and unthinkingly in thrall to its television screens. Twenty-three years later, Amused to Death speaks to our present moment in ways that could scarcely have been anticipated two decades ago. Most all of that can also be summed up in the next tracks, 'What God Wants, Part II' and 'Part III.' Indeed, at the beginning of 'Part II', Charles Fleischer (better known as the voice of Roger Rabbit) performs the greedy evangelist's sermon!
In 2015, television is just one option in an endless array of distractions available to us anytime, anywhere, courtesy of our laptops, tablets and smartphones. With eyes glued to our screens, the dilemmas and injustices of the real world can easily recede from view. Hence, it was time for this incredible, revealing, and still relevant album to have a new lease of life.
Next up is 'Watching TV,' which is also a duet with Eagles' Don Henley, explores the influence of mass media on the Chinese protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square. The trippy guitar dance of 'Three Wishes' is then followed by the gentle Prog feel of 'It's A Miracle,' before the concluding title track, 'Amused to Death' is upon us. Oh, and for those Waters purists amongst you, you'll already know that the song features a sample from the 1977 low-budget zombie film 'Shock Waves,' in which the films characters wrestle over a flashlight! It also begins with the lyric, "Doctor, Doctor," with "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the first song written by Waters, actually itself opening with the very same line.
This brand new release is a CD + Blu-ray edition of Amused to Death that features a new 5.1 surround remix of the album on high-definition Blu-ray audio completed by longtime Roger Waters / Pink Floyd collaborator and co-producer, James Guthrie. The art has been updated for 2015 by Sean Evans, the creative director of Waters' 2010-2013 "The Wall Live" tour and subsequent movie.
Roger Waters once said, "My view is that I've been involved in two absolutely classic albums – The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, and if you haven't got Amused to Death, you haven't got the full set." Well, now that the CD has been re-released together with this incredible Blu ray, I'd say you've all got the complete set and a little bit more!