Roger Waters: The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

April 30, 1984 – Roger Waters: The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is released.
# allmusic 4/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is a concept album and the first solo album by Roger Waters, released on this date in April, 1984. The album was certified gold in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America in April 1995.

The concept, as envisioned by Waters in 1977, rotated around a man’s scattered thoughts during a road trip through somewhere in Central Europe, focusing on his midlife crisis, and how he dreams of committing adultery with a hitchhiker he picks up along the way. Along the way he also faces other fears and paranoia, with all of these things taking place in real time in the early morning hours of 04:30:18 AM to 05:12 AM on an unspecified day.

In July 1977, Waters played some of the music demos of what he had pieced together, but he also played parts of another album he was preparing titled Bricks in the Wall to the rest of his bandmates in his group Pink Floyd. After a long debate, they decided that they preferred the concept of Bricks In The Wall instead, even though their manager at the time, Steve O’Rourke, thought that The Pros and Cons… was a better-sounding concept.

‘Well, the idea for the album came concurrently with the idea for The Wall – the basis of the idea. I wrote both pieces at roughly the same time. And in fact, I made demo tapes of them both, and in fact presented both demo tapes to the rest of the Floyd, and said “Look, I’m going to do one of these as a solo project and we’ll do one as a band album, and you can choose.” So, this was the one that was left over. Um…I mean, it’s developed an awful lot since then, I think.’
— Roger Waters

Retitled The Wall, it became the next Pink Floyd album in 1979, and Waters shelved The Pros and Cons…. In early 1983, following his split from the band, Waters undertook the shelved project himself. The album was recorded in three different studios between February and December 1983 in London, the Olympic Studios, Eel Pie Studios and in Waters’ own Billiard Room, the studio where his demos were constructed. Several people appeared on the album, including musical conductor Michael Kamen, the vocal talents of actor Jack Palance, saxophonist David Sanborn and rock and blues guitarist Eric Clapton.

As for the design of the album itself, Gerald Scarfe, who had created the album artwork and some animation for Pink Floyd’s The Wall album, created all the graphics and animation for the Pros and Cons album. Its cover prompted controversy for featuring a rear-view nude photograph of model and softcore pornography actress Linzi Drew. It was condemned by some feminist groups and was considered sexist with some claiming it even advertised rape. Many posters advertising the album worldwide were ripped down and destroyed by protesters. Although it was originally released with the nudity intact, subsequent editions distributed by Columbia Records censored Drew’s buttocks with a black box, although under the correct lighting her buttocks are still visible. and it is this censored version that remains the only version available in regions such as the United States and Japan where the record is distributed solely by Columbia.

Roger Waters’ first official solo album will be of sustained interest mainly to postanalytic Pink Floyd fetishists and other highly evolved neurotics who persist in seeking spiritual significance amid the flotsam of English art rock. I can’t imagine that anyone else will sit more than once through this strangely static, faintly hideous record, on which Waters’ customary bile is, for the first time, diluted with musical bilge.

Essentially, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking is a venomous lament for those poor saps in the Sixties who, having sampled the hip scene, decided to chuck it all and go “back to the land.” Waters, of course, initially depicts these aspiring bumpkins as witless simps; in the end, however, he concludes that they’re simply casualties of the human condition.

Having thus granted his subjects their humanity, Waters then asserts his own: The protagonist of the piece, a man not unlike Waters himself, finds redemption in a diner, a new love and even Cause for Hope. In the best hippie tradition, he comes to “recognise myself in every stranger’s eyes,” and in “The Moment of Clarity” – the final title – he concludes that, well, maybe love really is all you need.

Okay, so at least he’s not still raking his mother over the coals. But if Waters’ renowned misanthropy is mellowing a bit, his equally notorious misogyny still provides this record’s most repugnant moments. “You flex your rod/Fish takes the hook,” he says while being cruised by a bored and horny housewife from Encino; and when a nubile hitchhiker dumps her boyfriend to run off with this rich English rock star, he decides the reason must be, “She’d just seen my green Lamborghini.” (Waters sounds like the kind of guy who’d bring Hershey bars and nylons along on a first date.) As for the new love who’s entered his life, well, we don’t learn much about her – perhaps Waters is just constitutionally incapable of relating a happy state.

The real knee-slapper here, though, is the music. Waters has assembled a band that features Eric Clapton on guitar and ace sax man David Sanborn, both of whom give impassioned performances (Clapton, in particular, hasn’t sounded so rawly protean in years). But the central musical focus throughout is Waters’ creepy vocal, which departs from a narrative hiss only long enough to enunciate the occasional contemptuous snarl – usually something about feckless women or bloody foreigners. And you could count the actual melodies here on Mickey Mouse’s fingers.

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking suggests several things. First, that the most important musical component of Pink Floyd is actually guitarist David Gilmour (whose latest solo album assumes new luster in comparison to this turkey). Second, that Waters should have a long session with his therapist before making any future public utterances about the human condition. And third, that even the most exalted English rock legend shouldn’t try to sell swill to a public that’s demonstrably less piggish than the pop star himself. Think Pink, Roger. (RS 423)
~ KURT LODER (June 7, 1984)

All songs written and composed by Roger Waters. 
1. “4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)” 3:12
2. “4:33 AM (Running Shoes)” 4:08
3. “4:37 AM (Arabs with Knives and West German Skies)” 2:17
4. “4:39 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 2)” 2:02
5. “4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution)” 4:49
6. “4:47 AM (The Remains of Our Love)” 3:09

Side two
1. “4:50 AM (Go Fishing)” 6:59
2. “4:56 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 1)” 1:38
3. “4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)” 3:03
4. “5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)” 4:36
5. “5:06 AM (Every Stranger’s Eyes)” 4:48
6. “5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)” 1:28


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