In The Flesh
Pink Floyd and Roger Waters are at war – again. This time, however, the battle seems to revolve around who can authenticate what Floyd recorded during the halcyon days of the 70s. While the high points of Floyd’s post-Waters live recordings – The Delicate Sound Of Thunder and Pulse – are steadfast accounts of how well David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright have been able to reproduce the sonic strength of the mighty Pink, they certainly lack Waters’ primal vision and veneer. Whether or not Waters’ own 2-CD In The Flesh fills in the blanks is strictly a matter of preference.
If you’re neutral to the bickering that has taken place between both parties for nearly 20 years, In The Flesh is definitely a bone you can savor. The opening title track finds Waters and his band vigilantly scheming their way through a large chunk of "The Wall," the lyricist/bassist’s most personal work with Floyd. From there, we’re treated to “Get Your Hands Off My Desert” and “Southampton Dock” from The Final Cut, the last album Waters recorded with Floyd. These cuts serve as mere appetizers to “Pigs On The Wing, Part 1” and “Dogs,” both from the highly underrated "Animals" album. And while Waters is equally faithful to “Welcome To The Machine” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond ” from Wish You Were Here, the title track is much more appropriate in the hands of David Gilmour. Waters saves a lot of face by finishing off the first disc with “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” an early Floyd chestnut that is tastefully dusted off and thrown to the masses.
The second disc finds Waters at odds with some of the Pink Floyd tunes. While he may claim the lyrics to “Time,” “Money” and “Comfortably Numb,” using members of his band to sing key vocal lines is almost sacrilegious to the integrity of the material. The brightest moments come when Waters sheds his Floydian compulsions and plunges into the best of his solo work. Things are slow to start with “The Pros And Cons of Hitchhiking Part 11,” but Waters offers up a broad stoke from Amused To Death. As perhaps his strongest solo effort, Amused To Death zones in on the underlying strengths that make Roger Waters an indispensable part of the Pink Floyd legacy. Highlighted by P.P. Arnold’s soulful discourse and Marv Albert sound bytes, “Perfect Sense” is facilitated by a simple piano riff that builds into a bigger-than-life anthem. Not to be out done, “The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range” and “It’s A Miracle” are just as pleasing to the ear. Supplemented by a crack band, some of whom have actually worked with the enemy themselves, In The Flesh sanctifies the hunger for more Floyd, while leaving the age-old question up for grabs: When will Waters come to his senses and reunite with the band?
~ Shawn Perry