Hot on the heels of, and no doubt inspired by, the multi-million selling catalogue of lost opportunities that was Pink Floyd’s cashcow “Echoes”, comes Roger Waters' “Flickering Flame”. And much like Waters himself, it pales in the shadow of another band. And it's not very good. You are warned right from the off - it doesn’t even include the words ‘best of’ anywhere on the cover. Nobody could call this a reasonable selection of his best solo work.
Whilst Waters was the voice of Pink Floyd, whatever drove him to leave the band must at least be 50% ego. And it's abundant here. His more commercial, (that is, good) solo material is conspicuous by its absence. The tracklisting is an uncoordinated hotchpotch of 20 years of solo recordings, seemingly thrown together without any thought of how it sounds as a completed piece. And there’s glaring errors. “What God Wants” - a fierce and brutal list of mankind’s highest / lowest achievements - and superior to anything recorded by any member of the Floyd since 1983, is left off in favour of redundant b-side filler.
As is the 1970 solo track "Give Birth To A Smile" (from the deservingly obscure soundtrack album "The Body") - which is notable for uncredited appearances by the rest of Pink Floyd,and stands heads and shoulders above most of this meagre compilation. Instead of good music, a demo of “Flickering Flame” is delivered in a tuneless monotony, even when the completed, and far superior track remains in the vaults. (An excerpt of it can be found hidden on his “In The Flesh” DVD).
Audibly, it’s the more unexciting aspects of his solo career. He found a musical rut somewhere in the mid 70’s, a slow paced variant on blues-rock with pomp and introspection thrown in for good measure. If you like Pink Floyd, try not to go here as a guide to what he’s capable of. It’s completely unrepresentative. And occasionally - as on “Flickering Flame” and “Lost Boys Calling” - painful listening of a man whose muse seems to be MIA.
And he’s hardly the best vocalist there is, as evidenced in one of the unreleased songs : the original demo of the obscure Italian-soundtrack-compilation-only track “Lost Boys Calling” where an overdone vocal delivery pushes his voice to its meagre limits. Roger only knows why he chose this primitive, inferior version over the far superior finished take. What Rog Wants, Rog Gets. God Help us all.
Lyrically, Waters is one of the finest there is. There is still space for literacy and insight. And mostly it's on the lyric sheet. The overall impression I get is one of astonishment at the utter stupidity of mankind.
Much like the people who thought that this compilation was a good idea. It’s not. And you can’t even copy it ( the sleeve warns three separate times it won’t play on a Mac or PC) - which is a shame, because if you could, that’s exactly what I’d do.
Avoid. Unless incredibly cheap.
2Mark Reed's Score