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Roger Waters

The Pros & Cons Of Hitch Hiking  Hear it Now

RS: 1of 5 Stars

1984

Play View Roger Waters's page on Rhapsody

Roger Waters' first official solo album will be of sustained interest mainly to postanalytic Pink Floyd fetishists and other highly evolved neurotics who persist in seeking spiritual significance amid the flotsam of English art rock. I can't imagine that anyone else will sit more than once through this strangely static, faintly hideous record, on which Waters' customary bile is, for the first time, diluted with musical bilge.

Essentially, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is a venomous lament for those poor saps in the Sixties who, having sampled the hip scene, decided to chuck it all and go "back to the land." Waters, of course, initially depicts these aspiring bumpkins as witless simps; in the end, however, he concludes that they're simply casualties of the human condition.

Having thus granted his subjects their humanity, Waters then asserts his own: The protagonist of the piece, a man not unlike Waters himself, finds redemption in a diner, a new love and even Cause for Hope. In the best hippie tradition, he comes to "recognise myself in every stranger's eyes," and in "The Moment of Clarity" – the final title – he concludes that, well, maybe love really is all you need.

Okay, so at least he's not still raking his mother over the coals. But if Waters' renowned misanthropy is mellowing a bit, his equally notorious misogyny still provides this record's most repugnant moments. "You flex your rod/Fish takes the hook," he says while being cruised by a bored and horny housewife from Encino; and when a nubile hitchhiker dumps her boyfriend to run off with this rich English rock star, he decides the reason must be, "She'd just seen my green Lamborghini." (Waters sounds like the kind of guy who'd bring Hershey bars and nylons along on a first date.) As for the new love who's entered his life, well, we don't learn much about her – perhaps Waters is just constitutionally incapable of relating a happy state.

The real knee-slapper here, though, is the music. Waters has assembled a band that features Eric Clapton on guitar and ace sax man David Sanborn, both of whom give impassioned performances (Clapton, in particular, hasn't sounded so rawly protean in years). But the central musical focus throughout is Waters' creepy vocal, which departs from a narrative hiss only long enough to enunciate the occasional contemptuous snarl – usually something about feckless women or bloody foreigners. And you could count the actual melodies here on Mickey Mouse's fingers.

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking suggests several things. First, that the most important musical component of Pink Floyd is actually guitarist David Gilmour (whose latest solo album assumes new luster in comparison to this turkey). Second, that Waters should have a long session with his therapist before making any future public utterances about the human condition. And third, that even the most exalted English rock legend shouldn't try to sell swill to a public that's demonstrably less piggish than the pop star himself. Think Pink, Roger.

KURT LODER

(Posted: Jun 7, 1984)

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