Connect with us
July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10

CD Reviews

ROGER WATERS: Dark Side of the Moon (Redux)

by Tony Le CalvezJuly 2024

Last year, Roger Waters, former member of the legendary psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, released his new project, something nobody wanted and nobody asked for, a reinterpretation and rerecording of the band’s monumental album, Dark Side of the Moon.

Dark Side of the Moon (Redux) reimagines the original album as acoustic and spoken-word pieces reminiscent of Waters’ latest solo albums, The Lockdown Sessions and Is This the Life We Really Want? Now, if you don’t like the original 1973 Dark Side of the Moon, you’re not going to like this one.

In quick summation, it’s Waters being overindulgent and succeeding only at stirring up nostalgic elements from its namesake. The new components do little to nothing to expand or explore any of the original themes, and despite good musicianship, the album fails to feel like much more than a vanity project.

The original Dark Side of the Moon is a cultural monolith in the world of music, being the second best-selling album of all time and producing well-known hits such as “Time” and “Money.” It needs no introduction. Running at 42 minutes and change, the original album is five minutes shorter than the “Redux,” which comes in at 47 minutes, and the reason for extra length becomes obvious as you proceed through the record.

What works best about the project is the stripped back, acoustic instrumentation. The team behind the project has put together a wonderfully arranged rendition of Dark Side of the Moon that includes a consistent tone and aesthetic. Fun little accentuations litter the tracks from the organ and the guitar, and the vocal harmonies that round out Waters’ spoken word helps flesh out the sound. Unfortunately, as soon as Waters opens his mouth, the experience takes a nosedive.

Waters rarely sings, which, at his age I understand; his voice probably isn’t as strong as it once was, but his delivery is painfully rigid and placid from start to finish. There’s a bit of an effort to paint the narrator as a crotchety, crazy old man, which feels evident by his wispy voice, his proximity to the microphone, and the bitterness with which he delivers his lines, but Waters seems like a crotchety old man in the media all the time anyway, so it gets old on the record pretty quickly.

In addition, the album has a lot of narrative poems taking the center of attention on some of the tracks—notably for “Breathe,” “On the Run,” and “Money”—but none of the stories go anywhere, the narratives are convoluted, and even after re-reading them, nothing important, inspiring, or even provoking ever calls out to me. The audio quality of his voice sounds like a well-recorded audiobook, which is worthy of praise, but that’s about it.

What causes this album to drag so hard (in tandem with the spoken word) is that the tempo of all the tracks seems significantly slower than the originals. Longer cuts like “Great Gig in the Sky” and “Us & Them” feel never-ending as Waters rambles over a bass guitar rhythm crawling down riffs slower than a half-dead snail.

The album really hits the brakes on “Great Gig in the Sky” because, for some baffling reason, Waters chose not to have anyone sing or play Clare Torry’s melody, instead opting for someone just humming it, and, with the exception of some cool little flutters from the organ, that entire chunk of the song trudges on; it becomes a funeral dirge. Of course, re-recording Dark Side of the Moon without anything new on it would be pointless and I was looking forward to a fresh new perspective on these tracks, but why are the new things so unlikeable and lacking in creativity?

After listening through a few times, I’m starting to wonder if this project was just a malicious marketing scheme, in the same vein as “New Coke, Classic Coke.” The best parts of this album are carried by the writing, the nostalgia, and the sonic iconography of the original. Maybe Waters made this album hoping fans would hate it, so that we would go listen to the original, giving Waters plenty of streams and downloads to help supplement his mortgage payments.

Continue Reading