Amused to Death
|Amused to Death|
|Studio album by Roger Waters|
|Released||7 September 1992|
|Genre||Rock, progressive rock|
|Producer||Roger Waters, Nick Griffiths, Patrick Leonard|
|Roger Waters chronology|
|Roger Waters studio chronology|
|Singles from Amused To Death|
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 and it is unknown how much the material was changed in the interim.
The album's title, and much of its thematic material, was inspired by Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death. In Postman's later book The End of Education, he remarks on the album: "(...) Roger Waters, once the lead singer of Pink Floyd, was sufficiently inspired by a book of mine to produce a CD called Amused to Death. This fact so elevated my prestige among undergraduates that I am hardly in a position to repudiate him or his kind of music."
Waters stated in an interview with Rockline on 8 February 1993 that he wanted to use samples of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey on the album. Stanley Kubrick, the director, turned him down on the basis that it would open the door to many other people using the sound sample. Others think that Kubrick refused because Pink Floyd had not allowed him to use music from Atom Heart Mother in his film A Clockwork Orange. Waters has since then used audio of HAL describing his mind being taken away when performing the song live (as an intro, specifically during his "In the Flesh" concert tour, after Kubrick's death).
"My view is that I've been involved in two absolutely classic albums – The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall," Waters told Classic Rock. "And if you haven't got Amused to Death, you haven't got the full set. So this album – the live one, which pulls together songs from all three albums – hopefully redresses the balance." On 19 September 2013, Waters told BBC HardTalk that Amused to Death has been completely underrated. 
Amused to Death was inspired by the book Amusing Ourselves to Death, a critique of television and its related culture by Neil Postman. Continuing Waters' trend of having well-known guest guitarists featured on his solo albums, Amused to Death features Jeff Beck on lead guitar.
Like every solo album Roger Waters has recorded, Amused to Death is a concept album. This one is organised loosely around the idea of a monkey randomly switching channels on a television, but explores numerous political and social themes, including critiques of the First Gulf War in "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" and "Perfect Sense".
The first song, "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard", features a sample of World War I veteran Alfred "Raz" Razzell, a member of the Royal Fusiliers (much like Waters' father Eric Fletcher Waters had been in the World War II) who describes his account of finding fellow soldier William "Bill" Hubbard, to whom the album is dedicated, severely wounded on the battlefield. After failed attempts to take him to safety, Razzell is forced to abandon him in no-man's land. This sample is continued at the end of the title track, at the very end of the album, providing a more upbeat coda to the tragic story.
The second song, "What God Wants, Part I", follows and contrasts the moving words of Razzell by opening with the TV being tuned instead into an excerpt that sounds like it's taken from a vox pop of a child who says, "I don't mind about the war. That's one of the things I like to watch, if it's a war going on. Cos then I know if, um, our side's winning, if our side's losing…" he is then interrupted by the channel change and a burst of ape-chatter.
The third song, "Perfect Sense, Part I", 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." The message climaxes with Waters yelling in the aggressive Scottish voice he used to depict the character of the teacher in The Wall.
Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
Expressed in dollars and cents
Pounds, shillings, and pence
"The Bravery of Being Out of Range" includes a reference to a song written by Waters on Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals, Sheep. In Sheep, Waters sings "I've looked over Jordan and I have seen..." Waters references and expands on this line in "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" when he sings "I looked over Jordan and what did I see/Saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris".
Late Home Tonight recalls the 1986 US air strike against Libya from the perspective of two "ordinary wives" and a young American F-111 pilot.
Waters adds a reference to Andrew Lloyd Webber in the song "It's a Miracle":
We cower in our shelters, with our hands over our ears
Lloyd Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years
An earthquake hits the theatre, but the operetta lingers
Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers
It's a miracle
The concluding, title track "Amused to Death" features a sample from the 1977 low-budget zombie film Shock Waves in which the films characters wrestle over a flashlight, and begins with the lyric, "Doctor, Doctor." "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the first song written by Waters, opens with the same line.
The album is mixed in QSound to enhance the spatial feel of the audio, and the many sound effects on the album – rifle range ambience, sleigh-bells, cars, planes, distant horses, chirping crickets, and dogs – all make use of the 3-D facility. A limited "MasterSound" edition was also released.
Amused to Death reached No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart, Waters' first Top 10 in his homeland, and a career high of No. 21 on the Billboard 200, aided by "What God Wants, Part I", which hit No. 4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1992. It was also certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry for sales of over 60,000 in the UK.
|“||The album title came from a short book by Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, which is about the history of the media, particularly as it relates to political communication—i.e., how things have changed since such works as Lincoln's speeches were made available for the general public to read.||”|
|“||And I had at one point this rather depressing image of some alien creature seeing the death of this planet and coming down in their spaceships and sniffing around and finding all our skeletons sitting around our TV sets and trying to work out why it was that our end came before its time, and they come to the conclusion that we amused ourselves to death.||”|
|“||Things coalesced slowly as I became more and more interested or obsessed, pick your word, with the inordinately powerful and all-encompassing effect that television seems to have on the human race. My general view is that television when it becomes commercialized and profit-based tends to trivialize and dehumanize our lives.||”|
|“||So I became interested in this idea of television as a two-edged sword, that it can be a great medium for spreading information and understanding between peoples, but when it's a tool of our slavish adherence to the incumbent philosophy that the free market is the god that we should all bow down to, it's a very dangerous medium. Because it's so powerful.||”|
|“||I think the motivation is at the root of its current evil, i.e. it's because they have to compete in an open marketplace that their standards get reduced so the programming tends to end up as the cheapest possible saleable item. I don't believe that wanting to beat the opposition makes for good programming, but it's an ideology that is still rigidly adhered to.||”|
All songs were written by Roger Waters.
|1.||"The Ballad of Bill Hubbard"||4:19|
|2.||"What God Wants, Part I"||6:00|
|3.||"Perfect Sense, Part I"||4:16|
|4.||"Perfect Sense, Part II"||2:50|
|5.||"The Bravery of Being Out of Range"||4:43|
|6.||"Late Home Tonight, Part I"||4:00|
|7.||"Late Home Tonight, Part II"||2:13|
|8.||"Too Much Rope"||5:47|
|9.||"What God Wants, Part II"||3:41|
|10.||"What God Wants, Part III"||4:08|
|13.||"It's a Miracle"||8:30|
|14.||"Amused to Death"||9:06|
- Roger Waters – vocals (all tracks except 1), bass guitar (tracks 2 and 13), synthesisers (tracks 2 and 4), guitar (tracks 5, 11 and 14)
- Patrick Leonard – keyboards (all tracks except 6 and 7), percussion programming (track 1), choir arrangement (tracks 2, 9-11 and 13), vocals (track 4), acoustic piano (tracks 11 and 13), Hammond organ (track 5), synthesisers (tracks 5 and 13)
- Jeff Beck – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 10-14)
- Randy Jackson – bass guitar (tracks 2 and 9)
- Graham Broad – drums (all tracks except 1, 5, 11 and 13), percussion (tracks 6 and 7)
- Luis Conte – percussion (all tracks except 2, 5, 9, 11, 13 and 14)
- Geoff Whitehorn – guitar (tracks 2, 8, 10 and 14)
- Andy Fairweather Low – guitar (tracks 2, 6-9, 11 and 12), vocals (tracks 6 and 7)
- Tim Pierce – guitar (tracks 2, 5, 9 and 12)
- B.J. Cole – guitar (tracks 3 and 4)
- Steve Lukather – guitar (tracks 3, 4 and 8)
- Rick DiFonso – guitar (tracks 3 and 4)
- Bruce Gaitsch – guitar (tracks 3 and 4)
- James Johnson – bass (all tracks except 1, 2, 5, 9 and 11)
- Brian Macleod – snare (tracks 3 and 4), hi-hat (tracks 3 and 4)
- John Pierce – bass guitar (track 5)
- Denny Fongheiser – drums (track 5)
- Steve Sidwell – cornet (tracks 6 and 7)
- John Patitucci – bass guitar (track 11)
- Guo Yi & the Peking Brothers – dulcimer, lute, zhen, oboe, bass (track 11)
- John "Rabbit" Bundrick – Hammond organ (track 12)
- Jeff Porcaro – drums (track 13)
- Marv Albert – vocals (track 4)
- Katie Kissoon – vocals (tracks 2, 8, 9, 12 and 14)
- Doreen Chanter – vocals (tracks 2, 8, 9, 12 and 14)
- N'Dea Davenport – vocals (track 2)
- Natalie Jackson – vocals (tracks 2 and 5)
- P.P. Arnold – vocals (tracks 2, 3, 4 and 10)
- Lynn Fiddmont-Linsey – vocals (track 5)
- Jessica Leonard – vocals (track 8)
- Jordan Leonard – vocals (track 8)
- Don Henley – vocals (track 11)
- Jon Joyce – vocals (track 13)
- Stan Farber – vocals (track 13) (credited as Stan Laurel)
- Jim Haas – vocals (track 13)
- Rita Coolidge – vocals (track 14)
- Alf Razzell – vocals (tracks 1 and 14)
- Arthur Mullard – vocals (tracks 5 and 14)
- Hilda Baker – vocals (tracks 2 and 14)
- Roger De Courcey – Vibes
Album – UK
Album – Billboard (North America)
|1992||What God Wants Pt. 1||Billboard Mainstream Rock||4|
|1992||What God Wants Pt. 1||UK Single Charts||35|
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