Why I ❤️ Rogers Waters’ Amused To Death, by Uriah Heep’s Mick Box
Uriah Heep guitarist Mick Box enthuses over Amused To Death, the dark and esoteric conceptual album from former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters
I’ve had many happy days and nights listening to this extremely thought-provoking album. I picked it up for the first time in Australia during a drive from Sydney to Melbourne. Little did I know what I’d let myself in for. I sat and listened to it with the sun going down and became totally immersed. As soon as it was over, I had to put on again.
I’ve always been a fan of Pink Floyd, but as soon as I pressed ‘play’ I knew right away that this one was from the top drawer. The fact that Jeff Beck, my favourite rock guitarist, plays on it made it a winner right from the off. It also features appearances from Don Henley of The Eagles, Toto’s Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather, and singer Rita Coolidge. But Beck’s playing really helped to make it such a personal favourite.
It’s successful on so many different levels. It’s hard to listen to lyrics like ‘What God wants God gets’ without becoming lost in what Roger Waters is trying to say.
What I really love most about the album is its flow. From The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard, a highly moving opening monologue from a World War I veteran, to the same character’s return during the finale of title track, not a single note or word could be deemed to be out of place. I couldn’t just drop in and out and listen to one or two tracks, it’s got to be from start to finish.
The tracks are linked by snippets of conversation from these amazing voices that sound like they were recorded from the radio in the 1940s, other noises like machine-gun fire flitting in and out of the music. There’s even backwards-recorded messages. So often that can be pretentious, but it creates drama here.
The album was based on the book Amusing Ourselves To Death, by Neil Postman. But Waters is an incredible writer. Not just of music, but also the messages he puts across. He pokes fun at the world’s leaders in The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range, and also at religion in What God Wants, Part One. It’s dark and incisive, but also wryly funny in places – just as the title suggests.
At times, I defy anyone not to be moved by the sheer emotion in Roger’s voice. I’d recommend Amused To Death to any serious rock fan. In fact I ended up buying a load of copies and distributing them to various people that I knew.
My wife bought tickets for us to see Jeff Beck play in London a while ago, and Waters ended up jamming with him. When they played What God Wants, Part One I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I didn’t stop talking about that night for the next six months.