Amused to Death
by David Chiu
What is remarkable about hearing Roger Waters’ third solo album Amused to Death is how prophetic it was. Originally released in 1992, the former Pink Floyd co-founder tackled not only the theme of war but how it turned into a spectacle of entertainment for TV consumption – and this was before the proliferation of the Internet and social media that has made us prisoners of our own devices. Thus, this reissue of Amused to Death – now available as a CD/blu-ray edition – all the more relevant. The futility of war has always been a continuous theme of Waters and it runs through several of the album’s tracks, from the majestic “The Bravery of Being Out of Range” and “Late Home Tonight, Part I”; to the problems of the world and society at large, like on the ballad “Too Much Rope” and the subdued “It’s a Miracle.” In Waters’ view, the media is also culpable for everything that is wrong as well, as documented on “Late Home Tonight, Part II” and “Perfect Sense, Part II,” in which sportscaster Marv Albert gives the play-by-play of a military action. And there’s the hypocrisy of religion told in the song’s original single, “What God Wants, Part I” (highlighted by Jeff Beck’s guitar playing), with the refrain of “What God wants, God gets.” Amid the bleakness are some poignant moments, particularly “Watching TV,” which is a reference to the Tianmen Square massacre that happened three years earlier before the album’s release. The title song ends the album on a very pessimistic note in which our TV viewing habits have debased humanity to a point beyond recognition.. Upon its original release, Amused to Death never really got the recognition it deserved, perhaps because of Waters’ previous mixed solo efforts The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and Radio KAOS, as well as the very dark nature of the record. Amused to Death is certainly the better of Waters’ three solo albums as a cohesive and tuneful work; had it been a Pink Floyd record, it would have been a worthy successor/sequel to The Wall. If anything, hearing Amused to Death again only proves how history continues to repeats itself for the worse – only this time, the TV screens have become more portable and smaller.