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Redux: adjective

  1. brought back; resurgent:

Why? That was the first question I asked when I heard news of Rogers Waters recreation of Pink Floyd’s milestone album Dark Side of the Moon, the fourth biggest selling album of all time behind Thriller, Back in Black and The Bodyguard soundtrack. Just as Dylan inspired a new era of songwriting when he went electric and The Beatles and Beach Boys inspired musical adventure with their Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds albums, with Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd raised the bar for recording production.  It’s one of the most important and revered albums in contemporary music, so why mess with perfection?

I guess the same can be said of numerous classic Hollywood remakes too. With those however, in general the incentive is purely commercial. With Redux, I gather Roger had a long-standing creative itch to scratch or there’s always the possibility he just wanted to ruffle some more feathers. The relationship between Roger Waters and David Gilmour has hardly been cordial since Roger left the band in 1985 and mounted a legal battle to prevent Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason from using the band name without him.

In July this year Waters stated in a video that, ”It was an opportunity to do “a re-imagining” and “a way to celebrate the 50 years that the original recorded version of this work has survived, by making a different version of it. Not to supersede it or to replace it, but to remember it and as an adjunct to it, and to progress the work of the original concept of the original record, all those original songs.”

“I love the original recording, by the way, and I love what Nicky (Mason) did and what Rick (Wright) did and what Dave (Gilmour) did on the original recording,” he continues. “The new recording is more reflective, I think, and it’s more indicative of what the concept of the record was. It is a reinterpretation and I hope that we can gain more from it than we did back in 1973 when it first came out, because it’s been part of all of our lives for 50 years, and yet we are still not yet breathing in the air. Breathe. Breathe in the air.”

Floyd drummer Nick Mason has since come out to say that he thinks Roger did a great job of recreating the album. While Waters has suggested he even liked what Gilmour did on the original Dark Side, it seems electric lead guitar is not something that was high on his priority list for the Redux. In fact his band’s lead guitarist Dave Kilminster (responsible for all of the Gilmour parts in the any Waters live show) doesn’t even get a credit, he doesn’t appear on the album. Roger’s other guitarist Jonathan Wilson does play on the record but provides textures rather than lead lines. Did Dark Side not require lead guitar in Waters’ mind, an artistic decision or is he merely stirring the pot again, suggesting that the original guitar parts were superfluous?

Roger’s new version of the classic album is more subdued, presenting an almost post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s a haunting, even Darker Side of the Moon.

“The memories of a man in his old age – are the deeds of a man in his prime,” narrates Waters in the opening lines of his Redux version. “For life is a short, warm moment and death is a long, cold rest.”

It’s been said that the original Dark Side of the Moon is “a concept album that discusses the philosophical and physical ideas that can lead to a person’s insanity, and ultimately, an unfulfilled life.” Fifty years on, the narrator character in Redux reflects on these notions and questions whether it’s he that is mad or the world around him.

The Waters album is longer by around five minutes, with each track except Us and Them longer than the original. A case of one-upmanship or just part of the creative process?

I wonder under what conditions people will want to consume the Redux? The soundtrack to a long, contemplative drive perhaps? A day lounging on the beach with headphones? While enjoyable, it’s certainly not an uplifting experience. The lyrics are largely spoken in a melancholic tone rather than sung. The original album was a mood setter, a soundtrack responsible for the conception of millions of babies. Will the Redux have the same outcome? Possibly not, guys in particular may find it difficult separating the image and gravelly voice of old Roger from their codger.

No doubt fans of Rogers Waters will delight in this new version of Dark Side of the Moon. Those on the Gilmour side of the fence may be more indifferent. It all depends on your expectations. It’s not a reinvention of the wheel, it’s merely Roger’s view of the moon. It’s not difficult to get seduced by the Redux’s moody allure but whether it will have the same historic impact and longevity of the original is debatable.

By Greg Phillips

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