Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

This week (April 30th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, the first solo studio album from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. The album went to number 14 in New Zealand, number 13 in the UK, number 12 in Switzerland, number 4 in Norway, and number 3 in Sweden. Here in the US it spent eighteen weeks on the Billboard Album chart where it peaked at number 31.

The concept behind the record is a man’s thoughts while on a road trip as he goes through a midlife crisis. The tracks are supposed to take place in real time, from 4:30am to 5:12am, with the titles reflecting the time of each start.

Side one opens with “4:30am (Apparently They Were Traveling Abroad)”, a slow and tentative piece about the driver’s imaginary conversation with the female hitch hiker in his backseat.

“4:33am (Running Shoes)” is heavier rock piece, punctuated by the saxophone of David Sanborn.

Both “4:37am (Arabs with Knives and West German Skies)” and “4:39am (For the First Time Today, Part 2)” are just slightly over two minutes long apiece. The first is a bit of a jumble of imagery, but the later is a bit more mellowing.

“4:41am (Sexual Revolution)” goes back to more of Waters howling above a heavy, loud accompaniment.

The side closes on another softer note with “4:47am (The Remains of Our Love)”. I like Michael Kamen’s piano playing on this one.

Side two begins with “4:50am (Go Fishing)”, the album’s longest track at close to seven minutes in length. It starts off rather calm and peaceful, with a rolling country sound, before Waters’ manic outbursts begin to drop in. Sanborn gets another sax solo here.

“4:56am (For the First Time Today, Part 1)” is next. While it shares a similar name to an earlier track, the two are rather different.

“4:58am (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)” follows.

“5:01am (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)” was released as the first single; it went to number 76 in the UK and number 17 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. It makes sense for this to have been a single as it is one of the few tracks that can be extracted from the rest and still function. I do remember this one getting some play on the album-oriented rock station, in particular the female singers (Madeline Bell, Katie Kissoon and Doreen Chanter) on the chorus.

The second single was “5:06am (Every Stranger’s Eyes)”.

The album closes with “5:11am (The Moment of Clarity)”, the shortest track of the lot at just under a minute and a half. And then it just ends abruptly.

The thing about The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is that it is something that is best presented as a complete work. The tracks are really just pieces to an overall tapestry. For me, though, that is a real detriment. Because the tracks so easily segue from one to the next, they tend to all blend and blur into one another. That ends up really boring me. I guess I am definitely not prime audience material for Roger Waters’ music; then again I never really got Pink Floyd either.

1 comment:

James said...

The Final Cut, Waters' much more coherent swan song with Floyd is pretty much a solo album and stands up to time very well (Even considering the Cold War themes.) His 1992 album, Amused to Death is awesome.