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Amused To Death
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Amused to Death [Explicit]
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An unblinking look at an entertainment-obsessed society, Amused to Death addresses issues that have only grown in complexity and urgency over the past two decades. With Amused to Death, Roger Waters sounded the alarm about a society increasingly and unthinkingly in thrall to its television screens. Twenty-three years later, Amused to Death speaks to our present moment in ways that could scarcely have been anticipated two decades ago. In 2015, television is just one option in an endless array of distractions available to us anytime, anywhere, courtesy of our laptops, tablets and smartphones. With eyes glued to our screens, the dilemmas and injustices of the real world can easily recede from view.
The 2015 CD + Blu-ray edition of Amused to Death feature a new 5.1 surround remix of the album on high-definition Blu-ray audio completed by longtime Roger Waters / Pink Floyd collaborator and co-producer, James Guthrie. The art has been updated for 2015 by Sean Evans, the creative director of Waters' 2010-2013 "The Wall Live" tour and movie.
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to get this, the CD sounded great even in the car, and so far the 5.1 mix sounds even
better at home on the HT 5.1, even though I cannot crank it absurdly loud here.
However, I can already tell the difference between listening in the car, let's say,
versus hearing the drums and just the power of the overall 5.1 mix on a large
HT system at home, is really dramatic, as well it should be.
I'm also not sure how thrilled I am with the "remix" of Bravery of Being Out of Range,
I sort of prefer the original for some reason, some of the new flourishes
didn't add much to the song, for me, but overall, the Blu-ray and CD both
sound amazing to me. It's clear this album is even more relevant now, somehow,
than in 1992. I recall having a hard time assimilating this album back then.
As enjoyable as it is, it's still a difficult and dense work in 2015, but of course,
more topical and relevant than ever before for a myriad of reasons.
I haven't bought the vinyl as yet, so cannot comment on that. The packaging
and graphics on the 2 disc edition are really great, and the booklet contains
all the lyrics, which is also a nice touch. The Blu-ray disc has its own
sleeve (with battlefield Desert Storm etc. imagery wrap-around), the CD
doesn't, but that's ok since the CD has its own insert in the tri-fold
sleeve anyway and the cardstock seems pretty durable.
Clearly the usual James Guthrie and Team care went into this project, and hopefully
now Amused To Death will get the true due it should have received
(sort of did, but not quite) upon initial release. This reissue
was several years in coming, and it was clearly well worth the wait
and meticulous reconstruction work! I imagine the fact that
Roger didn't tour this album might've had something to do with it,
although I suppose it's also because it's a very complex work,
and confrontational, and "difficult" and bound to be divisive,
no matter what. Of course he did a good deal of the album live
later on, the selections on the In The Flesh live DVD/CDs are excellent testament
to what a live Amused To Death tour might've been like.
This album may not be "loads of laughs" (what Waters album really is? They're
all pretty "heavy" listening) but it will grow on you and seem more and more
impressive and devastating with every listen. Definitely glad I bought this.
This is one Waters project that truly deserved this treatment and HQ
reissue, and I'm sure it'll be receiving frequent airings in my house!
Having owned the original vinyl and CD issues of Amused to Death, I've become intimate with this recording - often using it to demonstrate what a state of the art recording can sound like in an above average home and automotive system. Without going into details about listening environments, turntables, DAC's, the attributes and placement of speaker systems and a personal background in studio and live sound engineering, I consider myself an advanced hobbyist with a critical ear leaning towards attention to the technical aspects of equipment and techniques used in music production.
When Mr. Waters announced the project to re-release this wonderful, emotion evoking, completely original work, I was thrilled with the idea of a sonic restoration along the lines of Steven Wilson's work on Jethro Tull's originals. This latest version of Amused arrived on the promised date and although very little time has passed for a thorough assessment, I must say I was surprised by two aspects of this recording.
1st) On tracks with less than obvious changes, there is so little sonic quality difference between the original and the 2015 edition. On the surface, it appears that (other than additional background sounds) no significant processing changes were made - perhaps that was the goal established for this effort, but given #2, I'd be surprised
2nd) On those tracks where obvious changes have been made, such as Jeff Becks rhythmic overdub on "The bravery of being out of range", I find his contributions gratuitous. No slam to Jeff Beck's overt talent, I'm a big fan, but I would suggest the presence of his work would be more effective if it were more subtly overlaid on the original. Dropping his guitar further into the background would still stand out without being so "in your face".
As a caveat to those comments: when Steven Wilson re-egnineered Tull's work, sonic integrity was restored without altering the "mix" thru instrument and/or voice level changes, insertion of additional effects or any of the other "tricks" producers use to extract new dollars from consumer who love and admire long existing artistic work. Whatever his techniques, the end result of Mr. Wilson's efforts was a true restoration, or-perhaps - established for the first time - the sonic qualities of drum dynamics, cymbal shimmer, voice nuance, sharp string plucks and such that are not just reminiscent of the original, they ARE the original, just reproduced with clarity. Tull's re-releases sound as if they were recorded in a state-of-the-art studio last week. This doesn't seem to be the case with this version of Amused to Death. And perhaps Mr. Wilson's work spoiled me and others who chase the dragon of (getting as close as possible to) musical perfection.
With the benefit of time and familiarity, perhaps deeper listening in an array of settings such as a quiet listening room, headphones and in the car will change my perception. As is true with any alteration to music we are intimate with, the changes may take time to "grow on me". I'm more than willing to give this recording the time to do just that. Having said that, it's a shame it has to be that way because there are clear examples of newly released, familiar material that make us go WOW because everything is so well done from the git go. In the meantime, the lack of subtlety on "Bravery" borders on shocking. The artists involved in this project likely have many reasons to accept the decisions made in this project, but as an outsider listening to the final product, I'm surprised and marginally disappointed.
UPDATE 7/27/15. OH MY! I take back comments about "less than obvious changes". Sitting in a quiet listening space brings the entire production out from behind a veil. Jeff Beck's overdub now sounds less over bearing but still require some acclimation - if only because it wasn't part of the original. Mr. Waters voice is front and center, defined. His voice is so HIM on this recording. YES! Harmony vocals are very well reproduced. Kick drum is deep, defined, punchy, the snare is snappy, cymbals are clean and airy. Closing my eyes, I hear content that seemed lost in the original. "Late Home Tonight, Part 1" sounds almost brand new. Bill Hubbard speaks to me from beyond the boundaries of my listening environment.
Apologies for my initial negativity. Very well done, indeed. Now... on to the blue ray audio.
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He is just sad now.
Isn't enough preachers yet?