After the success of his time in Pink Floyd and the critically acclaimed concept album “The Wall” in 1984 Roger Water took time away (and eventually quit the band) to record and album and go out on tour. The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking was the first solo concert tour by Roger Waters. It included performances of some of his songs from his previous band, Pink Floyd, and a full performance of his first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. The tour, despite featuring Eric Clapton (who was present on the 1984 dates only), under-sold tickets, but did better during 1985.
The band on the tour were: Roger Waters: Lead vocals, Bass guitar, Acoustic guitar; Eric Clapton: Lead guitar (1984 only);Tim Renwick: Rhythm guitar, Bass guitar (1984 only); Jay Stapley: Lead guitar (1985 only);Andy Fairweather-Low: Rhythm guitar, Bass guitar (1985 only);Michael Kamen: Keyboards;Andy Newmark: Drums;Chris Stainton: Hammond organ, Bass guitar (1984 only);Mel Collins: Saxophone;Katie Kissoon: Backing vocals;Doreen Chanter: Backing vocals.
They toured Europe and North America to mixed reaction but after listening to the studio album recently I have re-evaluated it and now see how good the concept is. This was the other concept for an album idea,the other of course being “The Wall”. Rolling Stone published this review of the album back in 1984 :
Roger Waters’ first official solo album will be of sustained interest mainly to post analytic 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.