THROWBACK THURSDAY #2: Roger Waters - Radio Kaos

THROWBACK THURSDAY REVIEW #2:
ROGER WATERS
RADIO KAOS
1987
For those unfamiliar, which I don't honestly know how one would be, Roger Waters was one of the major creative forces behind Pink Floyd. He contributed vocals, almost entirely on The Final Cut, as well as played bass for the band. Almost any song by Pink Floyd which had dark or outspoken content had him behind it, thus why albums began to shift towards more focused, questionable, and interesting topics with Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall (in no particular order). There was a noticeable shift when he left, as he'd made the band almost all his own by that point - while others were primarily interested in doing things other then keeping Pink Floyd afloat. David Gilmour eventually resurrected the band but the edge Waters provided, and the focus his themes provided, was forever gone - hence the reprehensible mess that was The Endless River. Luckily, Roger Waters kept his outspoken self in the music-making business, albeit his presence was, and continues to be, less appreciated.

Radio Kaos is his second studio album, and I'll be honest in saying that it is a personal favorite - at least, the original release. As with his previous album, and future solo work, it revolves around a concept: a story of a disabled man who can hear radio signals in his head, becomes friends with a radio host, and who mourns the loss of his working class brother - who is sent to prison for throwing a brick that may or may not have killed a taxi driver. From there, it somehow ends with the main character trying to destroy the world. And yes, this happens as jarringly as you can imagine.

The sad fact about Radio Kaos is that it worked so well up to a certain point. All of the songs are extremely representative of music that was on the radio in the late 80's and early 90's. Everything playing sounds like that safe light-rock you'd hear on a late-night rock radio station. However, with a unprecedented darkness within the lyrics - especially with tracks like 'Sunset Strip.' The radio host is actually a good character in this story, having to put on a smile for a seemingly insane world that won't leave him alone. You actually feel like he is listening to the main characters story and connecting, finally, with someone odd but understandable. The problem stems from when Waters decides to shift the setting from radio to world. Instead of being more of a commentary of the world facing it's inevitable doom, the album just seems to drop the surrounding story and Waters seems to go on saying whatever he thinks about the situation. It's honestly jarring and it creates a gap where everything seems fine, then all of a sudden the end of the world is about to happen, then it isn't. Hurrah, the world is turning around? I fully understand what was being reached for here, but when things go outside of character stories and 'powers that be' type songs - then Radio Kaos falls, really hard.

Still, I have a lot of love for this album. The songs present are great, despite the story hooking you then having a jarring turn without much say or reason to happen. You'll find yourself in love with it, the messages of thought-freedom and corporate greed are well presented and extremely relevant even nowadays. Everything is catchy, thoughtful, meaningful, and though I've said some bad - it's beyond worth a listen. Oh, but don't expect the cut or expanded tracks to be hidden gems. There was most certainly a reason for them being cut and they add nothing to the album.