review of a rock legend

In The Flesh
by Carmen Tassone

i n The Flesh, the latest offering  by rock legend Roger Waters (56), co-founder of Pink Floyd and successful solo artist, is a saucerful of his best work.  Released in December 2000, this double CD contains live performances from his "In The Flesh" Tour in the United States during 1999 and 2000.  Slated to be released some time this year, is an In The Flesh DVD.  You can bet I will be pre-ordering my copy from Amazon.com the moment a date is announced.
     In The Flesh, the CD, is "a comprehensive overview of Waters' music" that spans four decades.  The performances on this live CD range from Dark Side of the Moon to The Final Cut, as well as music from Roger's Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking and Amused To Death.
     Although it pleases me to hear songs from other Pink Floyd albums like Animals, Wish You Were Here, and of course The Wall, I am especially pleased to hear songs from The Final Cut.  This was technically the last album produced by Pink Floyd.  Some may disagree with me, but I feel The Final Cut was one of Pink Floyd's best albums.
     However, this is not true for the current band leader, David Gilmour.  Gilmour has yet to accept The Final Cut as a Pink Floyd piece of work.  He claims it is solely a Roger Waters' album.  Well, I tend to agree with that claim, but I would also add that the same could be said for each Pink Floyd album released before 1984.
     Waters wrote all the lyrics and most of the music for each Pink Floyd release since Dark Side of the Moon.  And In The Flesh validates that talent and skill can only go so far.  It's creativity that makes the difference.  I believe without the creativity of Roger Waters, the band Pink Floyd would had just been another forgotten rock bank from the '60's.  This can be heard when you listen to Pink Floyd music that has been produced since Roger's departure.  Gilmour's talented guitar playing only goes so far.  Don't get me wrong, I think David Gilmour is one of the world's top guitarist, but he doesn't have the poetic and creative mind like Roger Waters.
     Although In The Flesh could be overlooked as simply a greatest hits tribute to an extensive musical career, I feel it goes way beyond the remastering of previously released songs or the remixing of some live performances.  It's more of a revisit of music that has yet to meet its equal.  In The Flesh is like a get to gather with old friends.  A reunion any Pink Floyd "slash" Roger Waters fan would take pleasure in attending.
     Each performance on this new CD recalls a forgotten era, but with a new feel.  Explanation eludes me to exactly why these songs are a cut above the originals.  Maybe it's the arrangement, or maybe it's the talented performers.  Or maybe it's just me.  You see, it pleases me to hear authentic Floyd music live and breathe again.  But whatever the reason, the new feel is a comfort and a welcomed delight.
     For me, many of the songs on this new CD not only reproduced the original sound, but improved on it as well.  For instance, on this new CD "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" becomes a modern psychedelic groove.  It may have been altered to remind the listener of the origins of the band--Pink Floyd.
     Another example is the live rework of "Mother," which has to be the best I've heard to date.  PP Arnold's performance seems so perfect, so right.  "Mother" had always been one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs, but hearing her sing the mother's role placed the already emotive song on another higher level, up another tier of perfection.
     Likewise, "Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking Part 11 (aka 5:06 AM - Every Strangers Eyes)" had always been one of my favorite songs from Roger's solo career.  And this live rendition easily reinforced my feelings for the song and for all of Roger's work.  I suppose, the same could be said for all 24 songs on this CD.  The last of which is a new song called "Each Small Candle."
     Although the first verse of this song was a poem written by a South American who had been the victim of torture, Roger put the piece to music and added his own lyrics after reading a story of a Serbian soldier, who helped an "Albanian woman lying in a burned-out building" holding a crying child.
     The soldier broke ranks and laid down his weapon to help the woman.  After giving her water and food, and calming the crying baby, the soldier returned to his comrades.  An unexpected gesture of kindness in a war where genocide ran ramped.  
     True to form, Roger Waters' elegant use of the written word transcends the listener beyond the brutality and human suffering of war to the unmistakable truth of human kindness, and callousness.  Few people have been blessed with such vision, and even fewer have the ability to put to paper the discomforts and emotions felt by the human spirit.  Whether it be the downtrodden, the strong or the weak, the exploited, the rich or the poor, the coldhearted, the humble or the mighty, Roger has, through his music and words, the ability to help us see the bright and the dark side within us all.
     "Each Small Candle" immediately shares with the listener a realization of how the world holds a willing eye closed to the pain and suffering placed upon the human spirit.  Then, on a steely breeze, the music carries the listener on a march toward war and into the arms of its inevitable uncertainty.  But by song’s end, the songwriter brings the listener to a safe, kind haven yet noticed by "those with the will to fight."  A haven laden with human compassion and empathy.  A safe harbor void of torture and suffering.  Where human kindness and selfless hearts carry candles to "light the dark side of the human mind."  Although each candle is small, they are plentiful, for they rest in each of our hearts.  And when lit, each brightens "a corner of the dark."