Roger Waters has revealed the first minute of music from his re-recorded version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, after the original turned 50 years old this week.
He posted a clip of himself listening to a new recording of the song Us and Them, along with an explanation of the project, which does not feature his former bandmates. Waters wrote the original album’s lyrics, confronting war, capital, death and other weighty existential themes, and said he wanted to “re-address the political and emotional message of the whole album”, adding:
We are now in the process of finishing the final mix. It’s turned out really great and I’m excited for everyone to hear it. It’s not a replacement for the original which, obviously, is irreplaceable. But it is a way for the 79-year-old man to look back across the intervening 50 years into the eyes of the 29-year-old and say, to quote a poem of mine about my father, “We did our best, we kept his trust, our Dad would have been proud of us”. And also it is a way for me to honour a recording that Nick and Rick and Dave and I have every right to be very proud of.
Honour or not, Waters has become estranged from the rest of Pink Floyd, the schism worsening in recent months. In February, David Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson, a sometime lyricist for the band, described Waters as “antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-syncing, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac.” Gilmour chipped in: “Every word demonstrably true.”
In a Telegraph interview in the same week, Waters said of his former bandmates: “They can’t write songs, they’ve nothing to say. They are not artists! They have no ideas, not a single one between them. They never have had, and that drives them crazy.”
Drummer Nick Mason offered his own opinion on the antipathy in April 2022, saying: “I think the problem is Roger doesn’t really respect David. He feels that writing is everything, and that guitar playing and the singing are something that, I won’t say anyone can do, but that everything should be judged on the writing rather than the playing.”
Waters has long been an outspoken critic of Israel and its conflict with Palestine, supporting a cultural boycott of the country; he described the country last year as “a supremacist, settler colonialist project that operates a system of apartheid”. Waters has repeatedly refuted allegations of antisemitism, telling the Telegraph there’s “not a single millisecond of antisemitism anywhere in my life”.
This week, city officials in Frankfurt cancelled a Waters concert in the city, complaining of “persistent anti-Israel behaviour of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most well-known antisemites in the world”.
Gilmour and Mason reformed under the Pink Floyd name in April last year for the group’s first new song in 28 years, to benefit relief efforts in Ukraine. In a Guardian interview, Gilmour characterised the Russian invasion as an “extraordinarily crazy, unjust attack by a major power on an independent, peaceful, democratic nation”.
Waters, though, has drawn sharp criticism for his own divergent views on the conflict. He initially described Putin as a “gangster” but has since modulated his opinion, claiming that Nazis are “in control of the [Ukraine] government” and that the country provoked Russia into invading.
In his Telegraph interview he characterised Ukraine as “not really a country at all … a patchy sort of vague experiment”, and said in another interview that “the most important reason for supplying arms to Ukraine is surely profit for the arms industry … I think if the US can convince its own citizens, and you and many other people, that Russia is the real enemy, and that Putin is the new Hitler, they will have an easier time stealing from the poor to give to the rich and also starting and promoting more wars, like this proxy war in Ukraine.”
In February, he was invited by Russia to speak in a UN security council meeting, where he ended up attacking both sides: “The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was illegal. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.” Ukrainian UN representative Sergiy Kyslytsya quoted Pink Floyd as he described Waters as “just another brick in the wall – the wall of Russian disinformation and propaganda”, while Richard Mills, deputy UN ambassador for the US, said: “I certainly acknowledge he has impressive credentials as a recording artist. His qualifications to speak to us as an expert briefer on arms control or European security issues seem less evident to me.”
Waters’ new version of Dark Side of the Moon is being prepared for release in May, with no date yet confirmed. According to Tristram Fane Saunders in the Telegraph, who listened to the new recording: “Waters seems to have decided that what was wrong with the original album’s beautiful instrumental tracks was that they didn’t have Waters talking all over them. Now they do.”
The 1973 original, certified 14 times platinum in the UK where it spent 555 weeks in the charts, is the fourth biggest selling album in history, beaten only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, AC/DC’s Back in Black, and the soundtrack to The Bodyguard.