The Dark Side Of The Moon (Redux)
SGB Music Limited
Of course, there is a much, much easier option here. It's the route where I just post links to the numerous articles that are being written about Waters that highlight some of his questionable remarks and, in particular, a recently released documentary called 'The Dark Side of Roger Waters' which is available on YouTube should you wish to view it.
I could do all that, mix in a soupcon of the infamous tweet about him by Polly Samson (Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's wife) and add some of my own irritation at a singer-songwriter that I once admired but now I can only find flaws in. I could do that and only ever give a brief, fleeting listen to the record in question. But really that would be cheating, wouldn't it?
Context: Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' is now fifty years old, it remains a fascinating and mostly enjoyable album. It's supposedly a concept album, but I've never really understood that bit of it. It would be one of the last times that the band would sound like a band playing together, and not just an autocratic songwriter leading his backing band through a series of increasingly myopic concepts. Despite all of the words on 'Dark Side of The Moon' being penned by Waters, the album definitely a band effort.
There should be very few reasons for any artist to revisit their own work on such a scale - whatever book, film, or recording it may be, it is a testament to who you were, where you were, and how you were at the time. There are occasions when a singer-songwriter may bring a whole new meaning to a work, many years after writing it, without changing a word. Joni Mitchell can do it, as can Paul Simon. But not Roger, with Roger the song does remain the same. This is exposed on 'Time', where a sombre, spoken word reading of the lyric by a much older voice does not equal a wise reinterpretation, this is not someone (and here comes the Joni reference again), who has looked at life from both sides, now. The somewhat condescending 29-year-old and the somewhat condescending 79-year-old still have so much in common. Little has changed.
That belief Waters' has in the power of his own erudite observations is also there on 'Money' which always was a rather naive attempt at a protest song, yet without the spectacle of the original it is now exposed for all to see. By merely slowly growling the word 'Moneeey' in an ominous tone Waters does not add any nuance to the song.
The main addition to this 'Redux' are the monologues that now conceal the space of previous instrumental sections. The opener 'Speak to Me' now consists of a re-reading of 'Free Four' (from Pink Floyd's 'Obscured by Clouds'), but elsewhere, these appear to be new pieces. The pasting together of a remembered, if disjointed, dream of 'On The Run' is both nonsense and nightmarish ('You don't mean to plunge the knife under the waiter's ribs, but somehow you do'). It's surreal and full of drama. It's fun. The story of a dead friend on 'The Great Gig in The Sky' is poignant and eloquently told. However, the poem ('The Heavyweight') that conceals the gap where the sax and guitar solo used to be on 'Money' is jarring (yes, even in the context of that song) and, despite its good intentions, 'Any Colour You Like' is insubstantial, like an incompleted poem. Underwhelming.
There is part of me that wanted to be proved wrong by this album, for me to realise that the art is far greater than the shortcomings of the artist and that Waters has made something new and intriguing out of his material. Unfortunately, much like U2's exhausting 'Songs of Surrender' earlier this year, there is no new wisdom to be found in taking apart and reassembling old songs. The Redux of 'Dark Side of The Moon' often feels more like an audiobook or radio drama than an actual album. The 'Redux' is an intriguing experiment at best and, as with that aforementioned U2 album, it should soon be forgotten.