FCT 40795 Radio K.A.O.S.
Produced by Ian Ritchie, Roger Waters, Nick Griffiths
Released on June 1987
UK CHART POSITION #25 . . . US CHART POSITION #50
Find it at GEMM
FCT 40795 cover  

R adio K.A.O.S. shakes off the sleep borne from Hitchhiking and delivers Waters’ most vibrant and vital entry since The Wall. The concept is complicated: Billy, a young man in a wheelchair, receives radio waves in his head and uses them to communicate with a revolutionary radio deejay. Billy’s brother, Benny, has been imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Against this backdrop, Billy finds a way to manipulate the world’s missile systems to simulate a nuclear attack, an act which sobers the world to the dangers of nuclear weapons and closes with the positive global response of Live Aid. (Don’t panic: the inner sleeve explains all of this and includes the lyrics, which’ll help you navigate through Radio K.A.O.S.). It’s a suitably momentous scale for Waters’ epic and idiosyncratic sound, although references to Libya show the strange misfortune he’s had in not having experienced a battle big enough to cast his pacifist polemics without also marginalizing them. The music is the real story anyway: energized where Hitchhiking was impossibly languid, a surge of emotion similar in effect to “Not Now John” from The Final Cut, oddly danceable but still principled and compelling. Several singles were peeled from the complete painting, though as with most of Waters’ solo music these aren’t individual songs but rather separate acts in a single play. What’s most impressive about Radio K.A.O.S., and probably lost in the translation to the real radio waves, is the way that Waters blends the dialogue from Billy (delivered in mechanized voice) and Jim, the cynical deejay who presides over the album. (If memory serves, Waters employed a radio tower complete with deejay inside on stage for the Radio K.A.O.S. tour, perhaps as much to capture the audience’s imagination as compete with the theatrical stagecraft of Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour.) The effect is engrossing, sometimes stunning, often entertaining, and as good an amalgam of stage and recording studio as fans could hope for. It’s ambitious, as befits as large a talent as Roger Waters, and reveals more nuances with repeated sittings. Radio K.A.O.S. is clearly the Waters album to tune into first.

TRACK LISTING

  1. RADIO WAVES
  2. WHO NEEDS INFORMATION
  3. ME OR HIM
  4. THE POWERS THAT BE
  5. SUNSET STRIP
  6. HOME
  7. FOUR MINUTES
  8. THE TIDE IS TURNING (AFTER LIVE AID)

    Words and music by Roger Waters

CREDITS

ROGER WATERS -- vocals, guitars, bass and the odd keyboard, including the shakuhachi on (3), horn arrangement
BBC MASTER COMPUTER -- Billy
GRAHAM BROAD -- drums and percussion
MEL COLLINS -- saxophones
ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW -- electric guitars
JIM LADD -- Jim
SUZANNE RHATIGAN -- main backing vocals
IAN RITCHIE -- Fairlight programming, drum programming, piano, keyboards, tenor saxophone, horn arrangements
JAY STAPLEY -- electric guitars
Madeline Bell -- backing vocals
Vicky Brown -- backing vocals
Paul Carrack -- guest vocal (4)
Doreen Chanter -- backing vocals
Noel Davis -- choir leader
Nick Glenny-Smith -- DX7 and Emu including the great bass line (4)
Matt Irving -- Hammond organ (4)
J.J. Jackson -- Flounder
Eric Jones -- choir arrangement
Kate Kissoon -- backing vocals
Shelley Ladd -- Monkey and Dog Lady
Steve Langer -- backing vocals
John Linwood -- drums (4)
John Phirkell -- trumpet
The Pontardoulais Male Voice Choir -- choir
Andy Quigley -- the "Forgive me, Father" speech
Jim Rogers -- Doesn't like fish, marine fish
Jack Snyder -- Guppy
Stuart the Spaniel -- Uncle David's Great Dane with the help of an AKAI 900 sampler and a DX7 to make him sound bigger
John Taylor -- Shellfish Shrimp Crab Lobster
Peter Thoms -- trombone
Clare Torry -- guest vocals (6,7)
Harry & India Waters -- Children in the garden
Ron Weldy -- I don't like fish
Chris Sheldon -- engineer
Kate Hepburn & Pearce Marchbank (with thanks to Mark Fisher & Jonathan Park) -- sleeve design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK June 1987 EMI LP/CD/CS KAOS1/CDP 7 46865 lyric sleeve, poster
US/CAN June 1987 Columbia LP/CD/CS FC/FCT 40795 lyric sleeve
ARG 1987 CBS LP ATER 120 935 inner sleeve
AUSL/MEX 1987 CBS LP/CD CLS 450518 lyric sleeve
NET 1987 EMI LP 2407 831 inner sleeve
EUR 2003 Sony CD 509591 digital remaster

 

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