Friday, November 11, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking - Roger Waters

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is Roger Waters first solo album. Because it was his first album produced after he left Pink Floyd, and because he conceived it at the same time he wrote The Wall, it should not come as a surprise that The Pros and Cons sounds a lot like Pink Floyd. In fact, some of the songs are actually songs from The Wall with different lyrics. The line-up of the album is fantastic: Eric Clapton plays the lead guitar, Ray Cooper the percussion, and David Sanborn the sax. The National Philharmonic Orchestra also participates in the album. The Pros and Cons is an OK album from a musical perspective. The story it tries to tell is the fantasy of a man in his midlife crisis who dreams about sleeping with a hitchhiker.

But I guess that the ultimate value of this album is that it is the closest thing to a natural experiment on the classical question on whether the whole is larger than the sum of its parts or vice versa. Waters wrote The Pros and Cons and The Wall at the same time. The other members of the band listened to both and picked The Wall,  enriched it so that it became an icon of popular culture. The Pros and Cons is just an OK album. The Wall has been re-issued recently for the penultimate time at a price of 120 dollars; you can get the import edition of The Pros and Cons for 8.99.

Waters is clearly a genius, but so are his band mates. It is sad that no member of Pink Floyd ever understood it.

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