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Roger Waters: Radio K.A.O.S. (1988)

Billy is a 23-year-old Welshman from the South Wales Valleys. He is mentally and physically disabled, confined to a wheelchair and only able to work his upper body. Though he is conceived ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Graham Broad ...
Himself
Doreen Chanter ...
Herself (voice)
Andy Fairweather Low ...
Himself
Kathleen Kissoon ...
Herself (voice)
...
Jim (DJ)
Suzanne Rhatigan ...
Herself (voice)
Ian Ritchie ...
Himself
Clare Torry ...
Herself (voice)
...
Himself
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Storyline

Billy is a 23-year-old Welshman from the South Wales Valleys. He is mentally and physically disabled, confined to a wheelchair and only able to work his upper body. Though he is conceived as mentally challenged, his disability has actually made him not only a genius, but also superhuman, as he also has the ability to literally hear radio waves throughout all frequencies without aid. Written by Roger Waters

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31 May 1988 (UK)  »

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Trivia

The music videos of Radio Waves, Sunset Strip and The Tide Is Turning were shown in 1987, before making this short movie. In 1988, the movie was prepared and the music videos were slightly changed. See more »

Soundtracks

Sunset Strip
Written by: Roger Waters
Performed by: Roger Waters, Graham Broad, Andy Fairweather Low, Ian Ritchie and Suzanne Rhatigan
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User Reviews

 
I adore the album, but...
14 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I really, really, really like Roger Waters' music. He was probably the first musician I ever obsessed over, buying all of his work with the Floyd, all of his solo albums, and every video and bootleg I could get my hands on. That's not to mention shirts, posters, vintage memorabilia, LPs of albums I already owned on CD, books, magazines, et cetera.

Unlike a lot of Pink Floyd fans, I really like Waters' solo stuff, too. It might not have been as musically competent as David Gimour's solo output, or as desperate and creepy as Barrett's, but the lyrical intensity and earnest emotion of Waters' late work struck a cord with the young me, and I gobbled up his solo albums like candy.

I didn't buy a copy of *Radio KAOS* until I was 15, which would have been 1998, and even though the album's 80s-ness was quite aged by that time the incredibe quality of the songwriting was strong enough to rise above the superfluous synths and backup singers of the era and I loved the album. It came from a time when making slick pop music was easier than ever as studio innovations and synthesizers had replaced effort and talent and both coasts were pumping out little more than pasteurized, soulless crap. KAOS worked because it was sincere despite coming from such an insincere era.

KAOS was the fourth story album in the row for Waters. The first two, Pink Floyd's *The Wall* and its unfairly maligned little brother *The Final Cut* were harrowing self-portraits that looked at how Waters' life was adversely affected by the Second World War. Weighty stuff, as you can imagine, all full of brash emotion and screeched vocals. His first solo album after Floyd was the poorly-received *The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking*, a musical trip through a man's semi-consciousness as he drifts in and out of dreams before waking up in the morning. Although lighter than the two war albums, Hitchhiking's narrative was remarkably similar: splintered and mysterious, not lending itself very well to a visual reproduction.

KAOS, on the other hand, seems tailor-made for film. The album's plot is almost linear and fully coherent (not to mention incredibly cool): A paralyzed boy named Billy, who cannot walk or move or even speak, uses the overcompensatory strength of his mind to break into computer systems and telephones. He can call people up and talk to them in a creepy, computer-generated voice. He can break into government systems and launch nuclear missiles. Also, he hears radio waves in his head.

Okay, so maybe the plot isn't *completely* coherent, but it works quite well as an album, and, in the hands of a fairly skilled and somewhat imaginative filmmaker, it would have worked well as a short film. Unfortunately, "skillful" and "imaginative" are among the last adjectives I would ever use in the describing the videos that make up this collection.

These videos are little more than clichéd 80s pap, and not in a good way. Dayglo outfits, bad lighting, a lead singer perpetually besunglassed and surrounded in smoke: they're all here, in their grand, uncomfortable glory. I can only rightfully liken this to seeing Lou Reed sporting a mullet on a mid 80's appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman--" I just wanted to reach into the TV screen and cry out "Why oh why are you doing this horrible crap." KAOS is a good album not because it's cheesy, but because it manages to rise above its cheesiness and actually put some of that 80sness to good use. The dark sincerity of the album is completely erased and replaced with exactly what it originally rose up against.


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