There may be a dark side to the moon as Pink Floyd detailed on their seminal work, but there is a grim and ugly portion to it too. Roger Waters finds this for himself, alone and ostracised from a band whose relationship is fraught and past the point of salvaging. All of them are now in it for the money, an ironic and apt conclusion when this single, Money, comes as one of the many covers, remakes and rereleases of an influential masterstroke. Waters’ solo efforts and reworking of his and Pink Floyd’s own work decades after it released, in the same year as its anniversary and live album releases, is nothing shy of greedy. It is nowhere close to good, either, and Money finds itself withering in the hands of once-talented musicians.
Waters’ cover of his own song makes Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing sound positively heavenly. What could have been if the former Pink Floyd frontman had not adapted the latter word, nothing. Money is an empty traipse through the past, retrofitted to the ideologies and interests of a man so out of step with his own work he may as well not have made it. From its first moments, something feels horribly off about Money. It has been slowed to ballad form and the range of its influence is rejected entirely. Whether this is an inspired and actively foolish choice from Waters or a knock at the work of the past is unknowable. What is knowable, though, is Money no longer works. A broody little number channelling its best late-game Johnny Cash feeling, with sprinklings of slowed reverb and recognisable instrumentals in the form of Nick Cave.
A pairing of that power on paper is absurdly promising, and in practice is a miserable slog of an experience for Waters. Stripping back the intricate layers of Pink Floyd is the undoing of great work, so credit to Waters for exploring what happens when the heart is stomped, and the head is out of the game. “Welcome to hell,” Waters mutters partway through. Apt. Gurning at the changes of pace and style is all a listener can manage. Self-effacing and rushed in equally charmless measure. Waking up late in the day is bad enough, and the way to haul yourself out of the hole that precedes the washing up is not by listening to Money. In fact, it is, but the original version.
Whatever bitterness there is between Waters and the rest of the Pink Floyd collective is beyond the point. Money is a grim cover of a great song, and it falters in the same spots as the remastering of Dark Side of the Moon earlier this year. Shameless in its financial intention and even worse considering how Waters is now changing the fabric and meaning of these shows, these songs, into his own morphed and warped view. Turns out, he was not the mastermind Pink Floyd fans had first pegged him for. He has headed down the route of Bono, writing his poetry and demanding those faithful fans listen to him, when he achieved his fame by working on the opposite of this pace, tone and dictation. Money is nothing short of awful, but when Waters is pursuing the titular entity, fans had better brace themselves.