Comments on a Review of Roger Waters’ “In The Flesh”

Rogers Waters - In The Flesh2001

The following was something I wrote in response to an article I read in Rolling Stone magazine about Roger Waters’ In The Flesh CD. It includes the original review, as well as my response, and is followed by some reviews I later pulled from the Rolling Stone web site.

Original Article

In the Flesh, recorded during Roger Waters’ solo tour last year, presents Waters in concert with well-rehearsed studio musicians working through a mix of his Pink Floyd and solo material. There’s admirable sonic purity to these live recordings, but that only underscores the astonishing lack of verve in the performances. Tracks from The Wall such as “Mother” and “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” suffer not only from comparison to Pink Floyd’s original concerts (see Is There Anybody Out There?: The Wall Live 1980-81, released last year) but also fail to match up to Waters’ own live release of The Wall from 1990. In the Flesh was partly recorded at a Las Vegas concert, but these songs lack even a hint of theater or showmanship. Fans may enjoy the adequate live takes on excerpts from Animals and Wish You Were Here. At worst, though, this is a Pink Floyd cover band featuring the original bass player. This becomes especially clear during what should be David Gilmour’s vocal on “Comfortably Numb”, at which point the song’s sentiment becomes all too accurate. Yawn. (RS 862)


I read this review in Rolling Stone magazine, by an apparently uneducated asshole named Richard Arbowitz. It was of Roger Waters’ recent In The Flesh CD, the live recording made on his 2000 tour. Apparently Mr. U.A. (Uneducated Asshole) prefers the soulless corporation that is currently masquerading as Pink Floyd to the artist who wrote the music that Pink Floyd, Inc. has so skillfully mined. I say this because only that can explain how Arbowitz could say that there is an “astonishing lack of verve in the performances,” referring to an album which has seen a lot of play on our stereo, and which has struck us from the beginning by its energy (a stark contrast to Pink Floyd, Inc’s Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse, which, while perhaps great theater, made for achingly boring replays of Pink Floyd classics performed by teams of studio musicians). I think my first question was “Did he listen to the same CD that we did?” He sums the album up as “a Pink Floyd cover band featuring the original bass player,” and seems to bemoan the fact that it’s not Gilmour singing on “Comfortably Numb”.

What a prick.

I guess this only pisses me off because I was surprised by how great the album was, and how it had such energy that the songs seemed almost to have been performed by the people who first recorded them. It’s obvious that the band was enjoying themselves, and was not just there to rape the Pink Floyd catalog (as Gilmour has made a career of). It gave those songs a freshness and vitality that’s surprising. There’s no way Mr. Arbowitz could have missed that unless he had listened to it with preconfigured prejudices already raging. He’d made up his mind before he ever put it on.

I’m annoyed because Roger Waters always catches this kind of flack, and always from some self-righteous little prick like Richard Arbowitz who, apparently, doesn’t realize that the “R. Waters” beside most of the songs on all those old Pink Floyd albums stands for “Roger Waters.” Given the fact that Mr. Arbowitz seems oblivious to this, one has to wonder if he had ever heard of Pink Floyd before their smoke and mirrors reunion tour and album. If Momentary Lapse of Reason was this fool’s first exposure to Pink Floyd, it would explain a lot.

I just wish that if they’re going to let just anyone play at being a rock journalist, the job would require at least a minimal education in the histories of the people one is to write about. Oh, and at least a smidgeon of impartiality should be applied. Maybe if Arbowitz had listened to the same album we did (that of the co-founder of Pink Floyd playing his favorite compositions) instead of listening to “Pink Floyd’s bass player”, he might have heard something completely different.

Then again, what did I expect? It is Rolling Stone. This issue’s cover was a picture of a mostly naked Jennifer Lopez. So much for journalistic integrity, huh?

I won’t let this bother me for long. After all, I remember Richard Arbowitz, from other reviews. He’s hardly known for his insight. I just wish that Roger Waters could get a little respect. It’s especially ironic that all the reviewers who pan Roger Waters no doubt have most of his Pink Floyd recordings in their collections. I bet Richard Arbowitz liked Britney’s latest. We all like the way her tits jiggle, don’t we? Jesus. What a fucking culture.

Arbowitz, here’s to you. You mindless prick. Let me fetch you a pack of bubble gum.

– Wicasta Lovelace

Rolling Stone Reader Reviews

Author: MeanMofo
Subject: Roger Waters and his new band are AWESOME
Rating: 5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 4/4/2002 4:43:16 AM

Man, I don’t know who does the reviews at RS, but I just saw the 2002 In The Flesh tour live at Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Korea and there was nothing to say but FIVE STAR! There isn’t a wannabe in that whole band, and they handled every tune with absolute perfection, LIVE. From Roger’s perfectly tuned Martin Acoustic to the Stratocasters playing in perfect synch they were right on. Man, it was such a powerful performance that it brought tears to my and everyone elses eyes. That dude was put here a little further along than of the rest of us. ROCK ON ROGER!!!

Author: 144Kristin
Subject: Roger Waters In The Flesh
Rating: 5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 1/28/2002 5:19:31 PM

When one writes a review one should research the subject. Roger Waters was the primary writer and concept person behind Pink Floyd. He was the primary genius behind Dark Side of The Moon, Animals, and The Wall. The reviewer that commented “yawn” about In The Flesh has not done his homework. This person lacks depth as well. Thank-You Television

Author: Asimuth
Subject: In The Flesh
Rating: 4.5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 6/6/2001 5:32:57 PM

I want to take the time to say just a few things. I totally disagree with the person who had written the original review for this record. In The Flesh is a tremendously powerful album. It mixes the best of the old with the best of the new. Enough said. Just Roger bellowing out the lyrics to “Welcome To the Machine” is enough to send a chill through someone’s spine, he sings verses suchs as “and you didn’t like school/and you know you’re nobody’s fool” with such power. As well, he covered his solo material from the 80’s perfectly, I mean … look at “Every Stranger’s Eyes”, you’d think they just grabbed audio straight from the album it sounds so perfect. Just goes to show that even at his age Roger can still do his thing. My final comment on the album is Amused to Death. I have got to say that is a personal favourite from the album, the closing verses on the song are just as powerful as he sung them in ’92 on the original album. Rock on Roger! Get that new solo material out!

Author: toyezndattic
Subject: roger waters is the king
Rating: 5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 3/28/2001 6:48:55 PM

This R.S. idiot reviewing rogers work of art should be looking for a job he is qualified to do. I believe McDonalds is hiring. I have read the reviews from the fans and am impressed with the writing. Roger Waters is by far the king of music, my only complaint is that he doesn’t kick out a CD at least once a year. I can’t get enough. As far as the fans reviews, I think they are a little harsh on David Gilmore. I have been pretty impressed with his music since Roger left, with the exception of Pink Floyds latest live release, which sucks the big one. It is obvious after Roger left, that Roger was indeed the genius behind the music, music of the body proves there is a fine line between insanity and genius! In The Flesh is an exellent piece of work, the new song creates heavy anticipation for a new CD. A couple of the songs did seem to be a bit rushed, I found myself at the end of the CD saying, is that all? The live version of “Dogs” was very refreshing as well as set the controls, however the entire 2 cd’s were exellent. I do wish that there was a way to reunite Roger and David. I think Davids growth since the split would dwarf Dark Side of the Moon and leave us in awe.

Author: radiokaoser
Subject: Good Album!
Rating: 5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 2/7/2001 11:16:49 AM

The album is great … it shames Pulse and the Delicate Sound of Thunder … the only drawback on the album is the mixing … its very poor … one second the crowd is very the loud … the next they are gone … the seaguls in the songs from the final cut dont fit in the live version, and in the bootlegs I have heard I have never heard the birds … the songs, the talent, the entire mood of the album puts it head and shoulders above the other live albums I have heard. The concert live was much better … this album/tour will probably scare Dave out of ever trying to tour with the name Pink Floyd again … he may change it to Pink fraud or something … Great album … BUY IT!

Author: babemagnet_moonie
Subject: Roger Waters – In The Flesh
Rating: 3 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 2/3/2001 4:42:01 PM

Roger Waters – In The Flesh. Take a listen to Pink Floyds latest boxed offering, the live version of The Wall. There you can hear it: Roger Waters IS Pink Floyd. No matter what David Gilmour says. Sure, Gilmours guitar still can split the atoms, but if you listen to what Floyd did without Waters, the only thing you hear is a hollow monster. They can put on a hell of a show, but it’s liveless. In comes In The Flesh, the new album by Waters. And it’s a live one. A double live one. Did we need this ? Just look at the playlist: it’s pure Floyd. Of course, Waters put some solo material in it to, but it’s still Floyd, and guess what ? It sounds better than the original. For this album, Waters went back to his “roots”: smaller venues. Recently – just read the liner notes – he once again stated his disgust for the football stadium rockshows and he always found his music of a more intimate kind. This way of thinking works well on In The Flesh. The album was recorded on several dates and locations, but you still, there’s a continuity, a “narative” as Waters calls it. The album takes lots of your time, more than 2 hours, which is long in a time where the average attention span of the listeners is about 15 seconds. No wonder somebody like Britney sells … But back to Waters. Great band ! Take a look: good old Snowy White. He used to play with Floyd, as Gilmours understudy. Jon Carin, he’s still a member of the new Floyd, and what about the chorus girls ? Soul legends PP Arnold and Katie Kissoon with the georgeous Susannah Melvoin (where’s her sis at ?). They are just one of the reasons this album is worth a listen. The other reason is to hear “Wish You Were Here” sung by the original voice. And there’s “Dogs”, with a great battle of guitars, the warmth of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and the psychedelica of “Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun”, a song that reminds us that Syd Barrett once was a core-member, before the mushrooms kicked in. From Waters’ recent solo-outings, only “Amused To Death” was somewhat impressive, and the title track of that album gets a warm and beautiful rendition here. With the final song – the new “Each Small Candle” – we get the proof that Waters still knows how to touch you: it’s a sober song, based on a poem by a victim of a South-American junta-gouvernment. With that in mind, In The Flesh is well-worth checking out, especially the older Floyd-fans, the ones who have Ummagumma in their catalog, preferebly on vinyl. But you younger cyberkids should have a listen to it too. And if you don’t like it, well, there’s always your dad or a crazy uncle who got lost in the stars. Maybe a long overdue Christmas present? So, greetings from Belgium from crazy uncle Moonie !

Author: wilmarross
Subject: Roger Waters “In The Flesh”
Rating: 4.5 | Disagreed with the RS Review
Date: 1/31/2001 8:50:12 PM

Obviously the critics at Rolling Stone have no clue! Why else would their reveiw for In The Flesh be 2 stars and the readers gave a 4 or 5? This is a brilliant album from start to finish. Excellent sound quality and masterful perfomances. The performers do an excellent job of playing the songs the way Roger Waters meant them to sound. Several songs sound much better on the Live version than the original studio albums. “Dogs”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Shine On”.. and solo song “Bravery Of Being out of Range.” (much cleaner with a fresh sound). The guitar work is excellent for the most part. A few songs do miss D. Gilmour’s guitar however. The only songs I would have left off the album would be Money & Breath. Replaced with “Pigs on the Wing: 3 different Ones” & “Run Like Hell” for the final song. The best performances were: Set The Controls, Shine On, and Dogs!! This is a must for anyone who appreciates music for the mind. Powerful songs that really make to think about our social ills and personal doubts and fears that we all lock deep inside ourselves. Dim the Lights, crank up the stereo, and sit back for 2 1/2 hours of an emotional and cleansing ride!!!

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Close Bitnami banner