Friday, November 02, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 285 - Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

Album – The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking
Artist – Roger Waters
Key Players – Andy Brown – Hammond Organ, 12 string guitar. Ray Cooper – Percussion. Eric Clapton – Lead Guitar. Michael Kamen – Piano. Andy Newmark – Drums. David Sanborn – Saxophone. Roger Waters – Rhythm, bass and Lead Vocals.

Produced By – Roger Waters

Release Date – April 30, 1984

What caused me to blow off the dust?  - I am not sure what had me go back to this one.  It has been some time since I even listened to a single bit of it.

Overview – This was the first solo album from Roger Waters. Waters, most well know as the bassist and founding member of Pink Floyd presented the idea of this album to his band mates around the same time as what would become “The Wall”. The concept album revolved around a man's thoughts during a road trip that focused on a midlife crisis as well as committing adultery with the passenger he picks up. The whole album is meant to be very early morning in succession. After Waters left Pink Floyd in 1983 he returned to this work. The album would be released in 1984 with a series of guests appearing on the album. The album's image of a naked woman (Linzi Drew) was met with controversy forcing the label to put the black bar over her buttocks. The album would crack the Billboard top 50 (peaking at 31 in the US) but it was not even certified gold (500K sold) until 11 years passed from release. It finally achieved this milestone in April 1995.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 12 track 42 minute album opens with “4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Traveling Abroad)”. The track slowly creeps up and sounds like a thunder storm, but then all you hear is a solo Clapton on a few short notes. Waters finally starts to sing shortly after the 1:20 mark. He is hushed and it fits with the time of day for the story. He almost speaks the lines and now and again the band seems to hit down at the same time giving an over anxious “gasp” moment and the track continues, mostly with ambient sounds and acoustic guitars. Tracks don't pause and you are brought right in to “4:37 AM ( Running Shoes)”. A louder and more grinding tune. Sanborn has a big saxophone portion early in the song and Clapton and Waters slowly keep things moving. Cooper and Newmark don't seem to want to push it to hard or fast. The backing vocals from Madeline Bell, Katie Kisssoon and Doreen Chanter really add to the sax work from Sanborn. A car peels out and you are in for a ride when listening on headphones. It smooths out some before a guitar solo and some female seductive groans are smuggled in to the mix. The supporting cast on this track really make a name for themselves early on. It gets frantic again and calms down. It takes you on a roller coaster ride that is for sure. The tracks all continue to flow together and “4:39 AM (Arabs with Knives and West German Skies)” follows. The same mood is there, dark and somber vocal delivery with light drum work, a flash of guitar. The orchestra comes up here and sounds a bit like an ompah band, and you get that growl from Waters as Clapton climbs over and Sanborn returns. Everything seems to build quick, then fall back as quickly. Clapton has a solo here as well, but it is not flashy or quick, long notes are the focus here and it blends in to “4:39 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 2) has a much more rewarding guitar section from Clapton. The track itself seems to have snuckup on you, but he solo has you realize it is a new track. The strong female backing vocals are there as well, which is always a plus. Sanborn seems to close out this section as Waters shouts “stay with me!” and the sax seems to answer his calls. “4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution)” comes right at you. The bent guitar notes and big band sound are something to behold here. Not that anything hasn't felt like Roger Waters to this point, but you really get in to what is going on here. The drums from Newmark are really tight and the scattering of thunder in the back continue to set the listener right in the story. This is the longest track on this section of the record and Clapton gets to take off on the guitar, which many be “waiting for”. Waters is even more engaged and seems to almost be yelling at you, but the soaring work from Clapton, and the backing vocals fill out the sound. The album was broken out in sections and “4:47 AM (The Remains of Love)” ends “Side A” if you will. We have calmed down once more, hushed vocals and acoustic guitars. There is a nice piano section as well from Kamen and the guitar has a wonderful resonance to it. There is a seemingly long gap of silence but it is not longer than 10 seconds and the second half begins with “4:50 AM (Go Fishing)”. It sounds like an early morning. Car doors closing etc. It is the longest track on the whole collection coming in close to 7 minutes. Again, the moods change from light to dark, to soothing to urgent. Casual listeners would realize right away that this is Roger Waters telling a story. The strings are full and even more piano and resonating guitars. Sanborn has a big sax section as well and we rotate back and forth from the big booming drums and sax. “4:56 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 1)” is a sort of come down track from what you just heard. Calmer vocals with Waters and short saxophone portions. The female vocals are always solid and the track fades towards “4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarian, Dunlivin)”. We keep going up and down with moods. Again we are back to a more hushed vocal track with the swirling Clapton ready on the attack.. The track I swear you could hear on the radio “5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking Part 10)”. This feels most like a “song”. With that verse, chorus feel. The female vocalists return, Sanborn is there, Clapton is playful and Waters keeps the bass work simple until the chorus. The mix is solid here with the guitars and bass all on the same levels, The vocals are clean and the percussion and drums are at that right level throughout. It sounds like we are not in a diner getting coffee as “5:06 AM (Every Stranger's Eyes)” begins. We go calm again, with acoustic guitars and piano. Kamen seems to be the focus here as there seems to be more piano work on this track. We close out the album with “5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)” a very short and orchestral based song and the final line sung is “I couldn't take another moment alone”

Where are they Now: Roger has taken the  last few years of touring to re-create "The Wall" both indoors and out.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I have seen Roger Waters solo just once. August 4, 1999 at the Comcast Center in Mansfield. It was more a Pink Floyd set as one would expect. I am not sure Roger really touches songs from this collection live.

FDF Overall Take – The supporting staff is really solid on this. I think casual fans would be happy with Pink Floyd stuff. Waters is a strong story teller and his records do need your attention. This would be a hard record to just throw on and try to get in to. A long road trip (cliché as that sounds) is probably where this is better suited. It need to be listened to in full.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Stream the whole thing right here

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At 6:12 AM, Blogger Steve H said...

great album - much overlooked!!!!



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