The Final Cut (album)

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The Final Cut
close up of the breast a dark jacket, with one quarter of a remembrance poppy on the top left corner, and a selection of British military service medal ribbons along the bottom edge
Studio album by Pink Floyd
Released 21 March 1983 (1983-03-21)
Recorded July – December 1982
(see recording)
Genre Progressive rock
Length 43:27
Label Harvest
Producer
Pink Floyd chronology
The Wall
(1979)
The Final Cut
(1983)
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
(1987)
Singles from The Final Cut
  1. "Not Now John"
    Released: 3 May 1983

The Final Cut (occasionally subtitled A Requiem For The Post-War Dream by Roger Waters[1]) is the twelfth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. It was released on 21 March 1983 by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom, and several weeks later by Columbia Records in the United States. A concept album, The Final Cut is the last of the band's studio releases to include founding member and long-time lyricist Roger Waters. It is the only Pink Floyd album on which Waters alone is credited for the writing and composition of every song. Most of the lyrics are sung by Waters; lead guitarist David Gilmour provides vocals on only one of the album's tracks.

The Final Cut was originally planned as a soundtrack album for the band's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall. With the onset of the Falklands War, Waters changed it to be a critique of war, and also what he considered the betrayal of his father. The Final Cut was recorded in eight studios across Britain, from July to December 1982. As with much of Pink Floyd's discography, a range of session musicians were employed as contributors, but its production was dominated by increasing tensions between Waters and his band mates, particularly Gilmour. Keyboardist Richard Wright was at that point no longer a member of the band. The packaging was designed by Waters, and reflects the war theme of the album. It reached the top of the UK Albums Chart, but received mixed reviews. An accompanying short film was later released.

Following the album's release each member of the band concentrated on solo projects, but Waters then announced that he had left the group, and later attempted to keep Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason from using the Pink Floyd name. Gilmour has since expressed his dislike for much of The Final Cut.

Background[edit]

The Final Cut was originally planned as a soundtrack album for the 1982 film, Pink Floyd – The Wall.[2] Under its working title Spare Bricks, it would have featured new music or songs re-recorded for the film, such as "When the Tigers Broke Free" and "Bring the Boys Back Home", respectively. Bass guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter Roger Waters also planned to record a small amount of new material for the album, further expanding The Wall's narrative.[2][3][4]

As a result of the Falklands War, Waters changed direction, and began writing new material. He saw British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's response to Argentina's invasion of the islands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and dedicated the new album — provisionally titled Requiem for a Post-War Dream — to his father, Eric Fletcher Waters (who had died in World War II). Gilmour was unimpressed by Waters's apparent politicising, and the new creative direction prompted arguments between the two. Several pieces of music considered for but not used on The Wall, including "Your Possible Pasts", "One of the Few", "The Final Cut", and "The Hero's Return", had initially been set aside for Spare Bricks, and although Pink Floyd had often re-used older material in their work, Gilmour felt that these songs were not good enough for a new album. He wanted to write new material, but Waters remained doubtful as Gilmour had lately contributed little to the band's repertoire.[2]

The Final Cut was about how, with the introduction of the Welfare State, we felt we were moving forward into something resembling a liberal country where we would all look after one another ... but I'd seen all that chiselled away, and I'd seen a return to an almost Dickensian society under Margaret Thatcher. I felt then, as now, that the British government should have pursued diplomatic avenues, rather than steaming in the moment that task force arrived in the South Atlantic.

—Roger Waters[2]

I'm certainly guilty at times of being lazy, and moments have arrived when Roger might say, "Well, what have you got?" And I'd be like, "Well, I haven't got anything right now. I need a bit of time to put some ideas on tape." There are elements of all this stuff that, years later, you can look back on and say, "Well, he had a point there." But he wasn't right about wanting to put some duff tracks on The Final Cut. I said to Roger, "If these songs weren't good enough for The Wall, why are they good enough now?"

—David Gilmour[5]

The album's working title was changed to The Final Cut, a reference to William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "This was the most unkindest cut of all".[6] "When the Tigers Broke Free" was issued as a single on 26 July 1982, with "Bring the Boys Back Home" on the B-side.[7][nb 1][nb 2]

Concept and storyline[edit]

A group of armed soldiers in camouflage uniform with red berets guard a line of enemy soldiers, who stand in front of a large wooden building, which is painted yellow.  The road is wet, and the sky is blue.
British paratroopers guard Argentine prisoners of war on the Falkland Islands. Waters' frustration at the events surrounding the Falklands War is evident in the album.

The Final Cut is an anti-war concept album, whose lyrics explore what Waters regards as the betrayal of fallen British servicemen — such as his father — who during World War II sacrificed their lives in the spirit of a post-war dream. This post-war dream was that their victory would usher in a more peaceful world,[3] whose leaders would no longer be so eager to solve disputes by resorting to war. The album's lyrics are critical of Thatcher, whose policies and decisions Waters regarded as an example of this betrayal. She is referred to as "Maggie" throughout the album.

The opening track, "The Post War Dream", opens to a recorded announcement that the replacement for the Atlantic Conveyor, a ship lost during the campaign, will be built in Japan. Waters' lyrics refer to his dead father, the Japanese, and Margaret Thatcher, before moving on to "Your Possible Pasts", a rewritten version of one of the songs rejected for The Wall. In "One of the Few", another rejected song, the schoolteacher from The Wall features as the main character, presented as a war hero returned to civilian life. He is unable to relate his experiences to his wife, and in "The Hero's Return" is tormented by the loss of one of his air crew ("The Hero's Return" was titled "Teacher, Teacher" when it was part of the demo version of The Wall). "The Gunner's Dream" discusses the post-war dream of a world free from tyranny and the threat of terrorism (including a reference to the Hyde Park bombing), and is followed in "Paranoid Eyes" by the teacher's descent into alcoholism.[8][9]

The second half of the album deals with various war-related issues. While "Southampton Dock" is a lament to returning war heroes, and also those soldiers heading out to a likely death,[8] "Not Now John" addresses the ignorance of society toward political and economic problems.[10] "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" deals with Waters' feelings about war and invasion, and "The Fletcher Memorial Home" (the title is a nod to Waters' lost father) reflects the fantasy of gathering together political leaders including Leonid Brezhnev, Menachem Begin, and Margaret Thatcher, and applying "the final solution" to them.[11] The album's title track deals with the aftermath of a man's isolation and sexual repression, as he contemplates suicide, and struggles to reconnect with the world around him. The album ends with "Two Suns in the Sunset", a song that portrays a nuclear holocaust, the final result of a world obsessed with war and control.[8][11]

Recording[edit]

In front of backing music reminiscent of an army band, Waters' lyrics demonstrate his despair of war, in particular the Falklands Conflict.

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American composer Michael Kamen, who had contributed to The Wall, oversaw the orchestral arrangements. He also stood in for absent keyboardist Richard Wright, co-produced, and mediated between Waters and Gilmour. James Guthrie was employed as the studio engineer and co-producer, while Mason's drumming was supplemented by Ray Cooper, and replaced on "Two Suns in the Sunset" by Andy Newmark when Mason was unable to perform the complex timing changes required of him. It was Mason who suggested the repeated reprises of "Maggie, what have we done" be rendered instrumental rather than sung.[12] Raphael Ravenscroft was hired to play the saxophone. Recording took place in the latter half of 1982, using eight studios, including Gilmour's home studio at Hookend Manor, and Waters' Billiard Room Studios at East Sheen.[13][14] The other venues were Mayfair Studios, Olympic Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Eel Pie Studios, Audio International, and RAK Studios.[7]

Tensions soon became apparent, and while Waters and Gilmour initially worked together, playing the video game Donkey Kong in their spare time, the two eventually chose to work separately. Co-engineer Andy Jackson worked with Waters on the vocals, and Guthrie worked with Gilmour on the guitars. They would occasionally meet to discuss the work that had been completed, and while this method was not in itself unusual, Gilmour began to feel the strain, sometimes barely maintaining his composure. Kamen too felt pressured; Waters had never been a confident vocalist, and on one occasion, after repeated studio takes, Waters noticed him writing on a notepad. Losing his temper, he demanded to know what Kamen was doing, only to find that the pianist had been writing "I Must Not Fuck Sheep" repeatedly.[14][15]

Like previous Pink Floyd albums, The Final Cut used sound effects combined with advances and innovations in audio recording technology. Mason's contributions were almost entirely limited to recording sound effects for the experimental Holophonic system, an audio processing technique used to add an enhanced three-dimensional effect to the recordings (The Final Cut is the second album ever to feature this technology).[16][page needed] The technique is featured on "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert", allowing the sound effect of an explosion to appear to surround the listener. Sound effects from earlier Floyd albums are also evident; the wind from Meddle (1971) is re-used, as are parts of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979).[17]

After months of poor relations, and following a final confrontation, Gilmour was removed from the credit list as producer, but would still be paid his production royalties.[18] Waters later admitted that he was also under significant pressure, and that early in the production of The Final Cut he believed he would never record with either Gilmour or Mason again. He may have threatened to release the album as a solo record, although Pink Floyd were contracted to EMI and such a move would have been unlikely.[14] Mason kept himself distant as he dealt with marital problems.[19]

In a June 1987 interview, Roger Waters recalled the making of the album:

The Final Cut was absolutely misery to make, although I listened to it of late and I rather like a lot of it. But I don't like my singing on it. You can hear the mad tension running through it all. If you're trying to express something and being prevented from doing it because you're so uptight ... It was a horrible time. We were all fighting like cats and dogs. We were finally realising - or accepting, if you like - that there was no band. It was really being thrust upon us that we were not a band and had not been in accord for a long time. Not since 1975, when we made Wish You Were Here. Even then there were big disagreements about content and how to put the record together ... But making The Final Cut was misery. We didn't work together at all. I had to do it more or less single-handed, working with Michael Kamen, my co-producer. That's one of the few things that the 'boys' and I agreed about. But no one else would do anything on it.[20]

Packaging[edit]

A field of lilac flowers under a blue sky, with dozens of poppies in the foreground. A house and trees are visible behind the field, and further still in the distance are green fields, a church spire, and hills.
Poppies are a recurring theme on the album's artwork

Storm Thorgerson, a founder member of Hipgnosis (designers of most of Pink Floyd's previous artwork), was passed over for the cover design. Instead, Waters created the album cover himself using photographs taken by his brother-in-law, Willie Christie.[19] The front cover shows a Remembrance poppy and four World War II medal ribbons laid out on a black fabric background. From left to right the medals are the 1939–45 Star, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.[21]

The poppy is a recurring design theme. The interior gatefold featured three photographs, the first depicting an outstretched hand holding three poppies, and a soldier standing in the middle of a field far off in the background. Two more photographs show a welder at work, his mask emblazoned with the Japanese Rising Sun Flag, and a nuclear explosion—a clear reference to "Two Suns in the Sunset". The album's lyrics are reproduced on the gatefold. Side one of the vinyl disc carries an image of a poppy field, whereas on side two a soldier with a knife in his back lies face down amongst the poppies, with a dog beside him. The back cover features a photograph of a soldier standing upright and holding a film canister, with a knife protruding from his back[8] (the film canister and knife may reflect Waters' tumultuous relationship with The Wall film director Alan Parker).[11]

Release and reception[edit]

The Final Cut was released in the UK on 21 March 1983, and reached number one in the UK album charts,[nb 3] something that The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall had each failed to do. It was less successful upon its US release on 2 April, peaking at number six on the Billboard album charts.[22][nb 4] "Not Now John" was released as a single and reached the UK Top 30, with its chorus of "Fuck all that" bowdlerised to "Stuff all that".[23] Despite its success, the album received mixed reviews.[23] Melody Maker declared it to be "... a milestone in the history of awfulness ...", but Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder viewed it as "... essentially a Roger Waters solo album ... a superlative achievement on several levels".[8][24] Robert Christgau wrote "... it's a comfort to encounter antiwar rock that has the weight of years of self-pity behind it ..." and awarded the album a C+ rating.[25]

"The Final Cut is very good but it's not personally how I would see a Pink Floyd record going."

—David Gilmour in 1983[23]

With over 1,000,000 units shipped in the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America certified The Final Cut Platinum in May 1983; the record achieved double Platinum certification in 1997.[26] The Final Cut was however the lowest-selling Pink Floyd studio album in the United States and worldwide since Meddle. Gilmour later claimed that this relative commercial failure supported his assertion that much of the material on the album was weak.[27] Waters made the following response:

The Final Cut sold three million copies, which wasn't a lot for the Pink Floyd. And as a consequence, Dave Gilmour went on record as saying, "There you go: I knew he was doing it wrong all along." But it's absolutely ridiculous to judge a record solely on sales. If you're going to use sales as the sole criterion, it makes Grease a better record than Graceland. Anyway, I was in a greengrocer's shop, and this woman of about forty in a fur coat came up to me. She said she thought it was the most moving record she had ever heard. Her father had also been killed in World War II, she explained. And I got back into my car with my three pounds of potatoes and drove home and thought, good enough.[20]

The album's release was accompanied by a short film, The Final Cut. Based on a selection of the album's songs,[nb 5] it was produced by Waters and directed by his brother-in-law Willie Christie. Four songs are used: "The Gunner's Dream", "The Final Cut", "The Fletcher Memorial Home", and "Not Now John".[28] Waters is shown talking to a psychiatrist named A. Parker-Marshall, and Alex McAvoy, who appeared as the teacher in Pink Floyd The Wall, also appears in the film.[29]

The Final Cut was released on Compact Disc in 1983, and a remastered and repackaged CD was released by EMI in Europe and on Capitol Records in the US in 2004; this included an extra song, the previously released "When the Tigers Broke Free".[nb 6] A remastered version was made available in 2007 as part of the Oh, by the Way boxed set, packaged in a mini-replica of the original gatefold LP sleeve.[31] Despite being a replica of the original LP, the album artwork was altered to include "When the Tigers Broke Free".

Legacy[edit]

With no plans to tour the album,[32] Waters and Gilmour instead turned to separate solo projects. Gilmour recorded and toured About Face in 1984, and used it to express his feelings on a range of topics, from the murder of musician John Lennon, to his relationship with Waters — who also began touring his new solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.[33] Mason released his second solo album Profiles in August 1985.[34]

In 1985, faced with a potentially ruinous lawsuit from his record company and fellow band members,[35] Waters resigned. He believed that Pink Floyd was a "spent force".[36][37] He applied to the High Court to prevent the Pink Floyd name from ever being used again.[34] His lawyers discovered that the partnership had never been formally confirmed, and Waters returned to the High Court in an attempt to gain a veto over further use of the band's name. Gilmour's team responded by issuing a press release affirming that Pink Floyd would continue to exist; however, he later told a Sunday Times reporter that "Roger is a dog in the manger and I'm going to fight him ...".[38]

Waters wrote to EMI and Columbia declaring his intention to leave the group, asking them to release him from his contractual obligations. With a legal case pending, he dispensed with manager Steve O'Rourke and employed Peter Rudge to manage his affairs.[34] He later contributed to the soundtrack for When the Wind Blows,[39] and then recorded his second solo album, Radio K.A.O.S..[40]

The Final Cut is sometimes viewed as a Waters solo record due to the combination of Pink Floyd's partial breakup and Waters' dominance on the project.[27][41][42] The personal quality assigned to the lyrics are related to Waters' struggle to reconcile his despair at the changing social face of Britain, and the loss of his father in World War II. Despite this, Gilmour's guitar solos on "Your Possible Pasts" and "The Fletcher Memorial Home" are sometimes considered equal to his best work on The Wall.[8][43] More recent reviews of the album have weighed its importance alongside the band's split. Stephen Thomas Erlewine writing for Allmusic said: "... with its anger, emphasis on lyrics, and sonic textures, it's clear that it's the album that Waters intended it to be. And it's equally clear that Pink Floyd couldn't have continued in this direction ...",[44] and Stylus Magazine wrote: "It's about pursuing something greater even when you have all the money that you could ever want. And either failing or succeeding brilliantly. It's up to you decide whether this record is a success or a failure, but I'd go with the former every time."[45] Mike Diver for Drowned in Sound was less generous: "Rays of light are few and far between, and even on paper the track titles—including 'The Gunner's Dream' and 'Paranoid Eyes'—suggest an arduous listen. Q Magazine once compiled a top ten list of depressing records, and this was on it. Enough said, I think."[46]

Track listing[edit]

All lead vocals performed by Roger Waters except "Not Now John" by David Gilmour and Roger Waters.

All songs written and composed by Roger Waters. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Post War Dream"   3:02
2. "Your Possible Pasts"   4:22
3. "One of the Few"   1:23
4. "The Hero's Return"   2:56
5. "The Gunner's Dream"   5:07
6. "Paranoid Eyes"   3:40
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert"   1:19
2. "The Fletcher Memorial Home"   4:11
3. "Southampton Dock"   2:13
4. "The Final Cut"   4:46
5. "Not Now John"   5:01
6. "Two Suns in the Sunset"   5:14
2004 re-release
No. Title Length
1. "The Post War Dream"   3:00
2. "Your Possible Pasts"   4:26
3. "One of the Few"   1:11
4. "When the Tigers Broke Free"   3:16
5. "The Hero's Return"   2:43
6. "The Gunner's Dream"   5:18
7. "Paranoid Eyes"   3:41
8. "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert"   1:17
9. "The Fletcher Memorial Home"   4:12
10. "Southampton Dock"   2:10
11. "The Final Cut"   4:45
12. "Not Now John"   4:56
13. "Two Suns in the Sunset"   5:23

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ UK EMI Harvest HAR 5222 seven inch single), US Columbia AS 1541 (promotional 12 inch single, US Columbia X18-03142 (seven inch single)
  2. ^ The label on both sides of the single listed the tracks as taken from the forthcoming Final Cut album; however, neither song was included.
  3. ^ UK EMI Harvest SHPF 1983 (Vinyl Album)
  4. ^ US Columbia QC 38243 (Vinyl Album)
  5. ^ UK: Video Music Collection PM0010 (VHS PAL Video EP)
  6. ^ Harvest 7243 576734 2 6 (EMI) [eu] / EAN 0724357673426, UK EMI Harvest 576 7342[30]
Footnotes
  1. ^ CD booklet, page 2. 1983 UK/ Harvet edition
  2. ^ a b c d Blake 2008, pp. 294–295
  3. ^ a b Mason 2005, p. 264
  4. ^ Grein, Paul (18 September 1982), Pink Floyd's Next Album Will Have 'Wall' Tie-In, Billboard, pp. 11, 44, retrieved 22 September 2009 
  5. ^ Blake 2008, p. 295
  6. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 238
  7. ^ a b Povey 2007, p. 237
  8. ^ a b c d e f Blake 2008, p. 299
  9. ^ Mabbett 1995, pp. 91–93
  10. ^ DeGagne, Mike, Not Now John – Song Review, allmusic.com, retrieved 22 September 2009 
  11. ^ a b c Schaffner 1991, p. 242
  12. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 239
  13. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 240
  14. ^ a b c Blake 2008, pp. 296–298
  15. ^ Mason 2005, p. 268
  16. ^ Mabbett, Andy; Miles (1994), Chris Charlesworth, ed., Pink Floyd: The Visual Documentary, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-4109-2 
  17. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 241
  18. ^ Blake 2008, p. 298
  19. ^ a b Mason 2005, p. 273
  20. ^ a b Roger Waters interviewed by Chris Salewicz, June 1987.
  21. ^ Povey 2007, p. 349
  22. ^ Povey 2007, pp. 348–349
  23. ^ a b c Blake 2008, p. 300
  24. ^ Loder, Kurt (14 April 1983), Pink Floyd – The Final Cut, rollingstone.com, retrieved 4 September 2009 
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert (1983), "Consumer Guide Album", The Village Voice (robertchristgau.com), retrieved 22 September 2009 
  26. ^ US Certifications database, riaa.com, retrieved 28 March 2009 
  27. ^ a b Povey 2007, p. 230
  28. ^ Povey 2007, p. 359
  29. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 244
  30. ^ Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (album), ultratop.be, retrieved 25 September 2009 
  31. ^ Zuel, Bernard (9 January 2008), One last brick in the wall (registration required), The Sydney Morning Herald hosted at infoweb.newsbank.com, p. 25, retrieved 23 November 2009 
  32. ^ Mason 2005, p. 274
  33. ^ Blake 2008, pp. 302–309
  34. ^ a b c Blake 2008, pp. 311–313
  35. ^ Povey 2007, p. 240
  36. ^ Schaffner 1991, pp. 262–263
  37. ^ Jones, Peter (22 November 1986), It's the Final Cut: Pink Floyd to Split Officially, Billboard, p. 70, retrieved 22 September 2009 
  38. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 271
  39. ^ Schaffner 1991, p. 263
  40. ^ Schaffner 1991, pp. 264–266
  41. ^ Watkinson & Anderson 2001, p. 133
  42. ^ Mabbett 1995, p. 89
  43. ^ Schaffner 1991, pp. 238–239
  44. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, The Final Cut – Overview, allmusic.com, retrieved 22 September 2009 
  45. ^ Burns, Todd (1 September 2003), On Second Thought: Pink Floyd – The Final Cut, stylusmagazine.com, retrieved 27 October 2009 
  46. ^ Diver, Mike (1 May 2004), Pink Floyd: The Final Cut: Remastered, drownedinsound.com, retrieved 27 October 2009 
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