Some of the latest videos from the good people I follow on YouTube
Some of the latest videos from the good people I follow on YouTube
A couple of weeks ago we visited the Pink Floyd exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum in London and thoroughly enjoyed looking at artefacts and memories from one of our favourite bands. I took many photographs most of which are found here on this post. I could never do justice to this exhibition by writing about it but this journalist did. You can read the article by following the link at the bottom of this post.
” The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains review – look, a Flying Pig ! “
Written by Alexis Petridis – Tuesday, 09 May 2017
“Liverpool Street Refreshment”
The refracting prism, the businessman ablaze, the giant inflatable pig: they may be pop’s most anonymous band, but Pink Floyd’s artwork is instantly recognisable – as this stunning V&A show proves.Virtually the first thing the visitor to Their Mortal Remains sees is a quote from the late John Peel regarding Pink Floyd’s legendary anonymity: “They could have joined the audience at one of their own gigs without being recognised.” On the face of it, that should preclude Pink Floyd as a band on which to base a V&A exhibition in the blockbusting vein of 2013’s David Bowie Is, 250 million albums sold or not. Then again, as the exhibition makes clear, few bands in rock history have ever been as creative in their attempts to distract attention from themselves.
In truth, a certain anonymity seems to have clung to Pink Floyd from the start, even when they were fronted by Syd Barrett, a man as photogenic and pop-star pretty as he was talented: an early cover feature on the band in Town magazine doesn’t feature them on the cover at all, opting instead for a female model with the band’s psychedelic light show projected over her face.
Nevertheless, they endured a brief moment of old-fashioned pop stardom in the summer of 1967, replete with appearances on Top of the Pops and in the teen magazines (“Syd is 5 foot 11 inches tall, with black hair and green eyes – the mystery man of the group and a gypsy at heart”). By all accounts – including the testimonies from band mates and friends featured in a heartbreaking exhibition video – it was an experience that seemed to wreak almost as much havoc on Barrett’s fragile psyche as the vast quantities of LSD he consumed, hastening his decline.
The exhibition plunges visitors into the psychedelic world of the 60s from which Pink Floyd emerged. After Barrett’s irrevocable descent into mental illness, a combination of survivors’ guilt, English reticence and bloody-mindedness forged in the aftermath of their frontman’s departure – when almost everyone, including their own managers, appeared to give Pink Floyd up as a lost cause.
It seemed to drive the band’s retreat from the limelight. Barrett’s replacement, guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, had all the right ingredients for rock god status except the character: for all his brilliance as a guitarist, he seemed even more reserved than his new band mates.
Pink Floyd never appeared on one of their own album covers again after 1969’s Ummagumma, and seem to have spent almost as much time devising ways of diverting their audience’s gaze as they did making music. A groundbreaking quadraphonic sound system built at their behest got almost equal billing on their gig posters, although Their Mortal Remains reveals that the grandly titled Azimuth Co-ordinator looked suspiciously like something knocked together in someone’s shed.
At one show, a roadie was obliged to appear on stage dressed as a Tar Monster, complete with a penis fashioned from a washing-up liquid bottle that squirted black fluid over the front rows. The 1972 tour on which they debuted a nascent version of The Dark Side of the Moon was promoted in the press with a photo of the band with their backs to the camera. Come and see us live, but don’t look at us: that seemed to be the message.
Their masterstroke came with The Dark Side of the Moon’s release the following year. Early 70s rock was filled with striking images, from Bowie’s lightning flash makeup to Led Zeppelin’s mystical Zoso symbols, but few had quite the same lasting impact as the refracting prism design that Pink Floyd’s longstanding visual team Hipgnosis came up with for that album’s cover. An entire room of the exhibition is devoted to it, and rightly so.
In cynical modern parlance, it was a brilliantly simple piece of corporate branding; 44 years on, it remains the image that first springs to most people’s minds when the name Pink Floyd is mentioned – although Hipgnosis’s designs for their subsequent albums were scarcely less iconic: the photograph of two businessmen shaking hands, one in flames, for 1975’s Wish You Were Here; the shot of a giant inflatable pig floating above Battersea power station for 1977’s Animals, a giant neon replica of which fills another of the exhibition’s rooms.
The Dark Side of the Moon made Pink Floyd global superstars, but the bigger they got, the more Pink Floyd themselves seemed to recede. A 1974 tour programme attempts to elicit information on the band members via a questionnaire, to no avail: “Personal likes: ‘Not much.’ ‘Too personal’.” On stage, they were dwarfed first by a giant circular screen showing specially commissioned films, then by enormous inflatables and vast parachutes in the shape of sheep.
By the time of 1979’s The Wall, they were sending other musicians on stage in their place, wearing rubber life-masks based on their faces, and performing behind 40 feet of cardboard bricks onto which Gerald Scarfe cartoons were projected. Their Mortal Remains makes an intriguing attempt to link their ever-more complex stage designs with Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player Richard Wright’s background as architecture students, although others at the time took what you might describe as their elaborate reticence for haughtiness and pomposity: one wall of the exhibition is devoted to their one-time label mates the Sex Pistols, with Johnny Rotten’s I HATE PINK FLOYD T-shirt at its heart.
Masks worn by a four-piece ‘surrogate band’ who opened The Wall live show each night. Waters’ acrimonious mid-80s departure from the band is tactfully skirted around, although keen students of Pink Floyd’s endless icy, passive-aggressive internal struggles might note with interest the glaring disparity in space afforded Waters’ last album with the band, The Final Cut, and their first without him, 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
The latter gets a whole room, which seems less a reflection on its contents – curiously more dated-sounding now than the music they made in 1967 or 1973 – than on the vast, box office-busting tour it spawned, which tellingly saw Pink Floyd reprising not just their greatest hits, but their most famous visual effects. To the evident fury of Waters, who considered himself the band’s creative genius, it didn’t seem to matter to audiences whether he was there or not, as long as it sounded like Pink Floyd and an inflatable pig floated over the crowd: such is the downside of carefully cultivated anonymity.
Or perhaps it did matter. There’s something touching about the way Their Mortal Remains concludes not with The Endless River – the largely instrumental album Gilmour and Mason constructed in tribute to Richard Wright, who died in 2008 – but with footage of the quartet’s solitary reunion, at Live 8 in 2005. Their performance ends with a slightly uneasy group hug, which one band member has to be visibly coerced into joining: Pink Floyd were awkward in the spotlight until the last.
superb exhibition charting the successes and failures of a quintessential England band. Set to music and clips of all band members this exhibition shows the boundaries they pushed. Best of all the “Money” mixing desk where you can hear the song without bass,vocals, guitars etc etc. There’s also the fame Syd Polaroid from 1975.
We had a good day looking around a few drinks and a curry afterwards before setting off for home. The exhibition only runs till October 1st so chances are if you’re reading this you have probably missed out.
Photography by Our World Photographics
Original text can be found here Guardian Article
Of all the Pink Floyd records the first one ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ is generally seen by music crictics at the most groundbreaking. Recorded in 1967 it has a whimsical psychedelic feel and is the only one of the bands long player to feature the genius lyricist and leader Syd Barrett. It was released in August 1967 so will soon be celebrating its 50th anniversary
In 1966, Pink Floyd found a management team and transitioned to being a full-time band, in 1967 the band recorded and released their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It was Syd Barrett’s crowning musical achievement but after that things just weren’t the same . The psychedelic classic of 1967…is reviewed by Chris Jones of the BBC this review was written in 2007 when it was 40 years old.
For all who know the tragic story of Syd Barrett’s meteoric rise and fall in the world of art rock, it’s generally agreed that, between the first psychedelic strains of “Arnold Layne” and the mumbled torture of “Late Night”, his creative zenith was The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Recorded in the run-up to the Summer Of Love in a studio next to the one where the Beatles were putting the finishing touches to Sgt Pepper, this album remains a pinnacle of English psychedelic music. It’s filled with the child-poet musings of a mind not yet oppressed, but free to wander between fairy tales and cosmic explorations and still be home in time for tea.
Born to the tail end of the blues boom, Syd’s Pink Floyd (originally the Tea Set), were tailor-made for the nascent underground. Free from a (visible) desire to make with the chart success (man), they also had the requisite backgrounds to get them in on the ground floor with the middle class tastemakers. Along with the Soft Machine they forged their sound – stuttering swooping telecasters and eastern-tinged organ wig outs over hypnotic beds of rhythm – in the clubs of West End London. By this point they had wooed EMI into signing them and, following the bad sales ploy of having their first single, “Arnold Layne” banned as it reached number 20, they finally struck top ten territory with “See Emily Play”.
It was lucky that, by this time, the album was mostly completed, because it was this sudden propulsion into the limelight that was to prove poor Syd’s undoing. Enforced ‘package’ tours with other chart acts (as well as the equally bemused Jimi Hendrix Experience) were to prove too much exposure for the deeply insecure artist.
The first side opens with the outer space chatter of a thousand space missions intoning the names of the stars and we’re plunged in to a prime slice of mid-sixties freak-out territory. Syd’s guitar is fabulously lithe. There follows a series of tales of cats, silver shoes, unicorns, mice called Gerald, bikes, gnomes, scarecows and the I Ching.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But in 1967 this was fresh and new, and what’s more it’s delivered utterly charmingly and with no hint of received American pronunciation merely to be cool. It’s been said before, but this is Edward Lear for the acid generation.Then in the black hole between these tracks we get Syd’s other side, the shining, blasted sci fi tones of his guitar rumbling through the extended work out of “Interstellar Overdrive”.
This is the paradox with Barrett. He could seemingly write material that was both poppy and deeply out there with ease. Who knows how the Floyd would have sounded had he held on. Definitely different that’s for sure. But Piper remains a testament to a mind that, for a brief spell, saw no boundaries…
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ has inspired plenty of people – Blur, The Coral, Klaxons, The Horrors, Devendra Banhart, pretty much every Home Counties art-school band ever – which makes it all the more ironic that one of the few bands that haven’t copied it is Pink Floyd themselves. It’s down to one man, of course: before he lost his mind, Pink Floyd’s main songwriter Syd Barrett, a sensitive, good-looking middle-class art student from Cambridge. His songs on ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ assemble a cast of cats, silver shoes, unicorns, mice called Gerald, bikes, gnomes and the I Ching, and put them to some of the most inventive and surprising psychedelic music ever recorded.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Release date: 5 August 1967
Producer: Norman Smith
Genres: Psychedelic rock, Space rock, Art rock, Psychedelic pop
1. “Astronomy Domine” (Barrett, Richard Wright) 4:12
2. “Lucifer Sam” (Barrett) 3:07
3. “Matilda Mother” (Wright, Barrett) 3:08
4. “Flaming” Barrett 2:46
5. “Pow R. Toc H.” (Barrett, Waters, Wright, Mason) wordless vocals by Barrett, Waters 4:26
6. “Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk” (Waters) Waters 3:05
Total length: 20:44
1. “Interstellar Overdrive” (Barrett, Waters, Wright, Mason) Instrumental 9:41
2. “The Gnome” (Barrett) 2:13
3. “Chapter 24” (Barrett) 3:42
4. “The Scarecrow” (Barrett) 2:11
5. “Bike” (Barrett) 3:21
Total length: 21:08
Happy New Year…everyone !
Blimey I’m early again so what’s the subject today ?
I was going to voice off on Donald Trump but frankly I’m not sure I can face him this time in the morning any morning so I won’t,although I am amazed that anyone wants to vote for this capitalist who doesn’t pay all his staff the going rate,who’s a sexist pig and someone who acts more like a 1950s dictator. Looking at the BBC news website I’ve just seen a story about three women who in the 1960s in the name of art stripped naked and painted themselves blue and this brings me on to a favourite pastime with naturists….body painting. Body painting, or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art. Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most (in the case of mehndi or “henna tattoos”) about two weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting. Body painting is also referred to as (a form of) “temporary tattoo”; large scale or full-body painting is more commonly referred to as body painting, while smaller or more detailed work can sometimes be referred to as temporary tattoos.
In a Paris art gallery in 1960, three naked women covered themselves in blue paint and made impressions of their bodies on paper as an orchestra played and guests wearing formal dress looked on.It has come to be seen as one of the landmark events in the history of performance art. The evening was conducted by French artist Yves Klein, who wore a black dinner jacket and white bow tie for the occasion, and who gave us a radically different type of nude in art. But there has been criticism of the way Klein used young women – dubbed “living paintbrushes” – as his instruments.
One of the women who painted their bodies and Klein’s canvases that night, and on numerous other occasions, was Elena Palumbo-Mosca.As some of Klein’s Anthropometry paintings go on show at Tate Liverpool, Ms Palumbo-Mosca, now 81, rejects the notion that she was exploited and says she was more than just a “living brush” or a traditional passive model.
Then just last Year there was a body painting day in the United States when a New York City artist paid San Francisco a visit, along with hordes of vibrantly painted nude models. The artist, Andy Golub brought his Bodypainting Day to San Francisco for the first time. Artists painted nude models outside the north end of the Ferry Building, then they all marched in the buff to Fisherman’s Wharf. “There is no city with a greater commitment to free artistic expression. It’s an honor to be here,” Golub said of the event’s San Francisco debut. The theme of this Bodypainting Day is “Inner Beauty,” and Golub is encouraged the artists to look to the inner spirit of their models for inspiration.
Participating artists painted more than 50 nude models in a cordoned off area—but still in full public view. A team of security guards were present throughout the event to ensure the safety of all participants. Golub began painting bodies back in 2007. Two years later he was kicked out of New York City’s Times Square for painting models wearing nothing but G-strings in public. In 2011 he was arrested again after painting nude models for several hours on the streets. It took two more years for the city to acknowledge that Golub could paint fully nude men and women on any public street in New York City. Throughout the last few years, he has expanded his event to cities like Amsterdam and Brussels, and is now brings it to California.
I have my own reasons why photography is so important to me, but I thought I would put together a list that could apply to anyone as to why you should become a photographer. This is not scientifically weighted and therefore has not been properly ordered. It’s all stream of conscientiousness. Thus, #10 is not necessarily of lesser importance than #1. Lay off, okay !
10) You don’t really know people till you’ve retouched them at 1000% – I always walk away from a retouching session caring more about people. I’m like their mother fussing over them. I lick my fingers and smooth down their cowlick. That was kind of a disgusting analogy. I seriously feel a sense of protection over them to make them feel good about themselves and have a leg up in the world when they show off their new portrait.
9) Photography opens doors – In my day job, I’m afforded many opportunities to meet famous people and travel, but it’s the fact that I’m a photographer that has truly gotten me into the inner circles. The Lord knows how many times have I been the only one with a DSLR and been able to step up and take photos of an important event or moment. Opportunity leads to opportunity if you are a dedicated, talented photographer. As an example, if you love music and you pursue photography, you can eventually start taking photos of your favourite bands. Start small and work your up. I heard a lecture by a famous music photographer and he gave this advice…”Start at small venues with crappy bands, do a professional job, build relationships, and you will get bigger gigs.”
8 ) Everyone needs an artistic outlet – I can’t even draw an adequate stick figure.I would love to paint, and I intend to pursue it, but I have a major uphill battle. My wife is a natural. She can draw with elegance and precision. I draw like a Neanderthal with a lead stick taped to his wrist. But, for some reason I get composition when I’m seeing it from behind the lens. This art appeals to my sense of order and technical mastery. I get a kick out of being around other artists when I’m wearing a business suit and I can see that they are projecting their bohemian lifestyle and judging “the stiff in the suit”. And they don’t have a clue what’s really going on in my head or what I’m creating in my mind’s eye. You can be an accountant, a lawyer, or a bus driver, and photography may be just the artistic outlet for you. If you are a person that studies the world and is fascinated by people, or details, or anything visual, then there’s a place for you in photography. We all need an outlet. There are days I can’t lay my head on the pillow without creating something.
7) We’re everywhere – I LOVE talking to other photographers about photography. There is an instant bond between photographers. When I’m at an event, I’ll run over to the photographer and shake hands and say hi. If he or she has a moment we will inevitably talk shop. When I’m the designated shooter, I always take a moment to talk to someone who comes over and asks me a question. It’s the code. We all need each other, to learn and be inspired by each other.
6) What a conversation starter – Not just will you find yourself talking to other photographers, you will strike up conversations with complete strangers. Anytime I’m taking photos at a monument or tourist spot, I’m the first one that people come up to and ask to take pictures (because I’m holding a mac-daddy camera). I’ve had some great conversations and met some great people as a result of this. In all kinds of situations, you find people that you have something in common.
5) If you like to teach… – …then this is your gig. As an extension of the previously mentioned reasons, I think this is a crucial element to improving and growing as a photographer. The people that seem to get better, faster at photography are those who ask a lot of questions and who hold no secrets. That’s why I admire people like Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, Chase Jarvis, David Hobby, etc. They are industry giants because they freely share their information, and because they enjoy teaching others and the process of learning. I love to teach people about photography. I take my little 2+2 = 4 knowledge and share that, then I learn the quadratic equation, so to speak, and teach that, then I move onto the truly advanced stuff. Since I’m lousy at math that was a bad example. I don’t know what comes after the quadratic equation, so I generically said, “then I move onto the truly advanced stuff.”
4) If you like beautiful things – I am fascinated by the world around me. Being a very visual person, this is my way to interact with nature, architecture, and the most beautiful thing in the world…people. There’s nothing like capturing a moment in time and holding that forever on your hard drive (until it crashes). The better I get, the greater my anticipation is for the moment that is about to happen. One of my favorite shots was of an old Chinese Man (it’s first in my People portfolio folder). As I was walking up, I surveyed the background behind him, along with his stooped over posture and the overall composition. So in the 5 seconds it took to get around to the front of him and snap a picture, I had already set my camera and planned the frame. Kneel down, snap, snap, and bam! I’m out of there before he even knew what hit him. Every year that goes by, my anticipation gets better. But what I love about this is that even when I’m out and about without a camera, I see moments and think, “wow, that was a great moment.” Literally, my brain snaps a photo and I can see it for a while: facial expressions, flashes of light, etc. It’s a wonderful way to see the world.
3) If you love challenges – Nothing gets your adrenaline rushing like a client waiting on you while you try to figure out why your flashes won’t fire. It’s wonderful to plan a shot and pull it off. Though, there are times when you have to be like MacGyver and use duct tape and a flashlight to light a subject; whatever gets the job done. For some people this is a big reason to get into photography. The reward is very pragmatic and tangible. You put in x number of hours and you get a return on it. I love it!
2) “Can you please send that over to me?” – One day for fun I counted up how many of my photos my Facebook friends were using for their profile pics and it was 24. It’s more now, I’m sure. That makes me happy. Something I did can be a real & tangible blessing to my friends and family. I love taking pictures of my family. I love that my wife will have photos of our children at every stage of their lives. I love that I have documented the wonderful life that God has given me.
1) £££ – This is not #1 because it’s the most important, it’s just that I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how cool it is to get paid to do something you love. I am the world’s biggest advocate of mommy-togs (Stay-at-home-mom photographers) and teens using this as a part-time business. It’s hard and you have to have realistic goals, but you can bust out £200-300 for about 8 hours of time (with pre-planning, shooting, and editing). That works out to about £30-40 an hour. Be prepared that much of your profit can be eaten up by buying more gear, if you’re a gear hog like me. But knowing what I know now, I could start a business for £1,500 which would include gear (camera, 2 lenses, some flashes, modifiers, etc), software (photoshop/lightroom), and website. Can you get the pro level lenses and the latest photoshop? No, but it would be hard for the untrained eye to see the difference. I wish I had learned photography when I was a teenager. I honestly hadn’t even held an SLR till I was in my mid-20’s. That’s just sad. If you’re a teen and you want to make some nice money and not have to wait tables and if you don’t mind chilling to iTunes while you edit at midnight, then this is the gig for you.
This is a repost and was posted originally here all but the top two photos are my own
“The sun can warm the coldest dawn”
Up with the larks ? Well not actually, but the thought was there as I stumbled out of bed,some 20 minutes before sunrise. Recently, while driving to work, I’ve seen some wonderful sunrises and misty mornings,so today on my day off, I challenged myself to go out and record some of them.
It was a chilly start to the morning (it was only 3º Celsius) even so it wasn’t as cold and frosty as I’d hoped for.The main thing being of course, it was wonderfully bright and gloriously sunny,perfect weather conditions for photography. It is still wonderfully sunny now as I write some 25 minutes after midday,but the shadows are beginning to creep across the back garden, as the sun heads slowly down once again.
I didn’t head far away, just a little way across the countryside to a spot near Rivenhall,managing to capture the wonderful St Mary’s and All Saints church from a distance.I have to say that my photography skills can still be described as being in the amateur category, but I can say even so,I do have my moments of success.
Mostly I enjoy greatly, capturing the moment.Whether it be in the morning,evening,summer or winter, in varying weather conditions in the countryside or even in the city. For me I’m only here once so why not live this moment and why not capture it in a photograph,a video,a post or whatever medium you choose.
I realised during early spring visits to the club in 2015, that the sun can light up the sky and landscape in a wonderful way and also its never quite the same, as you go through the year,month by month. Climate plays a part too whether it’s being naked, during the warmer spring and summer months to being fully clothed, with three or more layers,thermal underwear,two pairs of socks,woolly hat and gloves (finger-less of course) in the cold winter months.
In terms of photography,I love the challenge of seeing what else or where else I can shoot and also experiencing the feeling of doing something I’ve not done before. Today I parked just down the road from the church and walked into Rivenhall Thicks,the only real wooded area visible from the road. The view across the fields to the church was excellent and with the sun in the background it gave me a great start to the day.
Then afterwards it was straight back home, into the warmth of the living room,numerous cups of coffee and a mince pie or two.To my delight as I sat at the computer, the wildlife (above) seemed to just appear at the window and afforded me another chance to shoot.Even though they’re taken through glass they came out rather well.
“Lost on a wave and then after
Dream on on to the heart of the sunrise”
So is the world really in Chaos ?
With terrorists scattered around the globe and countries being led by hard nosed leaders or tyrants has the world regressed since the 1980s thaw ? Many artists have written great music with chaotic situations as inspiration so today I’m going to mention just one of my favourites. Radio KAOS is a 1987 solo album by Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters,which was dubbed by record company executives as too dour and miserable prior to release, that Waters had to add an extra track,the encouraging “The Tide is Turning (after Live Aid)”.
Radio K.A.O.S. is the second studio solo album by British rock musician and former Pink Floyd member Waters. Released on 15 June 1987 in the United Kingdom, it was Waters’ first album after his split from Pink Floyd in 1985.
Like his previous and future studio albums and many works of his during his time with Pink Floyd, this is a concept album. The album is based on a number of key factors of politics in the late 1980s including monetarism and its effect on citizens, popular culture of the time, and the events and consequences of the Cold War. It also makes criticisms of Margaret Thatcher’s government, much like Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut, another album conceived by Waters.
The album follows Billy, a mentally and physically disabled man from Wales, who is forced to live with his uncle David in Los Angeles after his brother Benny was sent to prison after protesting against the government, following his dismissal from his job in mining due to “market forces”. The album explores Billy’s mind and view on the world through an on-air conversation between him and Jim, a DJ at a local fictitious radio station named Radio K.A.O.S.
Internationally, the album only charted in two countries, peaking at number 25 in the United Kingdom and number 50 in the United States. The album spawned four singles in 1987. “Radio Waves” was released as the lead single from the album, charting at number 74 in the UK, as well as #12 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks in the U.S., “Sunset Strip” charted at number 15 on the Rock Tracks chart, “The Tide Is Turning” charted at number 54 in the UK, and “Who Needs Information”, which failed to chart. Waters also made a Video EP for this album featuring the songs “Radio Waves,” “Sunset Strip,” “Fish Report,” “Four Minutes,” and “The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid).”
In 1979 Waters met Jim Ladd for a radio documentary on The Wall album. It was the beginning of a friendship which remains today. Jim Ladd was an inspiration as he brought some light into Waters’s dim view of L.A. life, initially through listening to the bizarre Fish Report from KMET. Waters became increasingly interested in Ladd’s plight with his radio station KMET, and his eventual sacking to change the programming format of the station in search of market researched profits. In 1985, Waters wrote a song called “Get Back To Radio,” which seemed to be partly based on the experiences of Ladd, and partly from childhood memories – Waters fondly remembers listening to Radio Luxembourg well into the night as a child.
An event from the 1985 miners’ strike in Britain where a striking worker threw a concrete block off a motorway bridge, killing a taxi driver who was taking a working miner to his job, seemed to register in Waters’s subconscious, emerging in the second song written, “Who Needs Information” and later, “Me or Him”. With this example of how far people will go to pursue their monetary goals, Waters began to formulate the ideas for his first full solo album since leaving Pink Floyd. The album, with a working title of Home, took only three months to record, developed from 16 songs throughout 1986 and was worked into a now familiar Waters concept album.
The popular culture of Los Angeles and the radio industry in the area at the time was the inspiration for the fictional Radio K.A.O.S. station that plays a significant role in the album. Billy is a 23-year-old Welshman from the South Wales Valleys. He is mentally and physically disabled, confined to a wheelchair and only able to work his upper body. Though he is conceived as mentally challenged, his disability has actually made him not only a genius, but also superhuman, as he also has the ability to literally hear radio waves throughout all frequencies without aid. Billy was living with his twin brother Benny, who was a coal miner, wife Molly, and their children. Unfortunately, Benny has lost his job in the mines due to the “market forces”. One night, Benny and Billy are out on a pub crawl when they pass a shop full of TV screens broadcasting Margaret Thatcher’s “mocking condescension”. Benny vents his anger on this shop and steals a cordless phone. Next, in theatrical fashion, Benny poses on a footbridge in protest to the closures; the same night, a taxi driver is killed by a concrete block dropped from a similar bridge (“Who Needs Information” – track 2). The police question Benny, who hides the phone in Billy’s wheelchair.
Benny is taken to prison, and Molly, unable to cope, sends Billy to live with his uncle David in Los Angeles, California, United States. Since Billy can hear radio waves in his head (“Radio Waves” – track 1), he begins to explore the cordless phone, recognising its similarity to a radio. He experiments with the phone and is able to access computers and speech synthesisers, and learns to speak through them. He calls a radio station in L.A. named Radio KAOS and tells them of his life story about his brother being in jail (“Me or Him” – track 3), about his sister-in-law not being able to cope and sending him to L.A. to live with his uncle Dave (“Sunset Strip” – track 5), and about the closures of the mines (“Powers That Be” – track 4).
Billy eventually hacks into a military satellite and fools the world into thinking nuclear ICBMs are about to be detonated at major cities all over the world while deactivating the military’s power to retaliate (“Home” – track 6, and “Four Minutes” – track 7). The album concludes with a song about how everyone, in thinking they were about to die, realises that the fear and competitiveness peddled by the mass media is much less important than their love for family and the larger community. (“The Tide Is Turning” – track 8).
Waters dedicated the album “to all those who find themselves at the violent end of monetarism.”
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