Radio K.A.O.S. (1987)

Roger Waters

"Who needs information, when you're living in constant fear ..."

Roger Waters's third solo effort after leaving Pink Floyd in 1983 was "Radio K.A.O.S.," a story album about Billy, a young disabled man from Wales living in Los Angeles who can hear radio waves in his head. He eventually teaches himself to break out of his vegetative state by using computers to communicate with a local radio DJ, played by real-life air personalty Jim Ladd. (Ladd was with KMET at the time of the record's making.)

When Billy uses his technical prowess to stage a mock nuclear battle, Waters concludes his commentary on our high-tech times and the abuse of global communication technology by the "war lords," with "The Tide Is Turning," a rare optimistic number from Waters, focusing on the Live Aid concert, which was organized, coincidentally, by Bob Geldolf, who played Pink in the film "Pink Floyd The Wall."

The band Waters assembled for the album was largely the same line-up he had assembled for the film soundtrack of "When the Wind Blows" in 1986: including Jay Stapley on guitar and Mel Collins on sax. Dubbed The Bleeding Heart Band, the group also included Andy Fairweather Low on guitar, co-producer Ian Ritchie on synth, and Graham Broad on drums. Clare Torry, who belted out "The Great Gig in the Sky" on 1973's "Dark Side of the Moon," made appearances on two numbers: "Home" and "Four Minutes." Paul Carrack, who would sing "Hey You" on Waters's superstar performance of "The Wall Live in Berlin," Germany, July 21, 1990, guests on "The Powers That Be."

Like 1979's "The Wall," Waters wrote "K.A.O.S." with an entire multimedia theme in mind. While a film of the album was planned, a four-song conceptual video directed by Willie Smax was the only result. The tour that followed the album's release in June 1987 took the form of a radio show, with Ladd introducing and back-selling songs.

"Radio K.A.O.S." climbed to number 50 on the Billboard charts in the United States.
radio k.a.o.s. album cover

Release date

Jun 15, 1987 (UK)
Jun 15, 1987 (US)

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Track listing

  1. Radio Waves
    04:58 (Waters)
  2. Who Needs Information
    05:56 (Waters)
  3. Me or Him
    05:24 (Waters)
  4. The Powers That Be
    04:36 (Waters)
  5. Sunset Strip
    04:45 (Waters)
  6. Home
    06:00 (Waters)
  7. Four Minutes
    04:00 (Waters)
  8. The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid)
    05:44 (Waters)