The Final Cut is the twelfth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 21 March 1983 in the United Kingdom and on 2 April in the United States through Harvest and Columbia Records. It comprises unused material from the previous Pink Floyd record, The Wall (1979), alongside new material recorded throughout 1982.
The Final Cut was the last Pink Floyd album to feature founding member Roger Waters, who departed from the band in 1985. It is also the only Pink Floyd album not to feature founding member and keyboardist Richard Wright, who left the band after the Wall sessions. The recording was plagued by conflict; guitarist David Gilmour felt many of the tracks were not worthy of inclusion, but Waters accused him of failing to contribute material himself. Drummer Nick Mason’s contributions were mostly limited to sound effects.
Waters planned the album as a soundtrack for the 1982 film adaptation of The Wall. With the onset of the Falklands War, he rewrote it as a concept album exploring what he considered the betrayal of his father, who died serving in the Second World War. Waters provided lead vocals for all but one track, and he is credited for all songwriting. The album was accompanied by a short film released in the same year.
The Final Cut received mixed reviews, though retrospective reception has been more favorable. It was a commercial success, reaching number one in the UK and number six in the US.
Storm Thorgerson, a founder member of Hipgnosis (designers of most of Pink Floyd’s previous and future artwork), was passed over for the cover design. Instead, Waters created the cover himself, using photographs taken by his brother-in-law, Willie Christie. The front cover shows a Remembrance poppy and four Second World War medal ribbons against the black fabric of the jacket or blazer on which they are worn. From left to right, the medals are the 1939–45 Star, the Africa Star, the Defense Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The poppy is a recurring design theme. The interior gatefold featured three photographs, the first depicting an outdoor scene with an outstretched hand holding three poppies and in the distance, a soldier with his back to the camera. 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 printed on the gatefold. Side one of the vinyl disc carries an image of a poppy field and on side two, a soldier with a knife in his back lies face down amongst the poppies, a dog beside him. The back cover features a photograph of a officer standing upright and holding a film canister, with a knife protruding from his back; the film canister and knife may reflect Waters’ tumultuous relationship with The Wall film director Alan Parker.
The Final Cut 7 ( 1983, UK pos 1 )
The Post War Dream / Your Possible Pasts / One of the Few / The Hero’s Return / The Gunners Dream / Paranoid Eyes / Get Your Filthy Hands off My Desert / The Fletcher Memorial Home / Southampton Dock / The Final Cut / Not Now John / Two Suns In The Sunset
You wait four years for a new Pink Floyd album, then ‘The Final Cut’ arrives, ‘all at once’. Always intended to be the final Pink Floyd album as far as Roger was concerned, although Dave had other ideas of his own. ‘The Final Cut’ is ‘as good as’ a Roger Waters solo album, although it does have the texture and feel of classic Pink Floyd, especially if you happen to be a fan of ‘The Wall’. Roger writes an album in memory of his father, so the bleakness continues. There isn’t the same level of musical delights here as ‘The Wall’, though. The lyrics are things to behold, desperately bleak, but things to behold all the same.
‘The Final Cut’ is a difficult album to enjoy, and its unremittingly slow pace may put off all but the most dedicated Roger Waters fans, but actually it’s not bad. ‘Your Possible Pasts’ flowing from the atmospheric brief opener is good Pink Floyd music. A good Gilmour solo too, by the way. ‘One Of The Few’ is all atmosphere and aids the albums flow, ‘The Hero’s Return’ is good, ‘The Gunners Dream’ impossibly sad sounding, but strangely beautiful if you give it a chance. Many listeners will have switched off before ‘The Gunners Dream’ even arrives, dismayed at the complete lack of ‘funk’, and if they make it as far as ‘The Gunners Dream’ then the brass parts might put them off, and be done. Damn Roger Waters to hell, they say! ‘The Final Cut’ sucks arse, only it doesn’t. True ‘Paranoid Eyes’ is terribly slow and dreary, as is ‘Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert’, but ‘Fletcher Memorial Home’ is great, very heartfelt, quite beautiful.
‘The Final Cut’ is something for someone out there to ‘get into’ if they have the mind and patience to do so, there is something here, but pinning it down is actually quite hard. A very lyrical album, with few musical hooks to be found anywhere at all, but Roger sounds so heartfelt and serious across the entire twelve songs, it’s hard not to wonder about it all, wonder what he was trying to achieve. I love the brief ‘Southampton Dock’ by the way. The best material here is a match for parts of ‘The Wall’ album, even though ‘The Final Cut’ as a whole is inferior, especially in terms of things like melodies, which we all like to hear from time to time, don’t we? Half of the album doesn’t appear to feature any musician other than Roger Waters, but this is as much a Pink Floyd album as anything that followed, thinking about it.
The title song is beautiful, I love the tone of the vocals initially and the feel of the song, although at other times the vocals sound desperate, but then, they probably had to. ‘Not Now John’ reminds you that you are in fact listening to Pink Floyd and not Roger Waters as Gilmour does a solo thing, the closing ‘Two Suns In The Sunset’ an acoustic guitar strum along blown up by studio production and Roger Waters shouting rather than singing. Trumpet floats in, and I rather wish that it hadn’t. Pink Floyds career seemingly splutters to a rather unmemorable finish, given their Seventies peaks – but as I’ve said, ‘The Final Cut’ isn’t without merit. I don’t actually know, bar the lyrics, what that merit IS but it’s here, there’s a feel to the album. A bleak and miserable feel, perhaps. A feel that doesn’t vary at all across the albums twelve songs, maybe – but something. A seriousness that’s hard to just dismiss, so I’m not going to. ‘The Final Cut’ is worth a listen or three, that’s for sure. And that’s as good a conclusion as you’re getting from me.