Subtitled ‘A Requiem For The Post War Dream’, ‘The Final Cut’ is not the album that many Pink Floyd fans were expecting after the bombastic magnitude that was ‘The Wall’. Although the band was riding high after the release and subsequent tour for ‘The Wall’, there were far too many cracks in the band’s own wall. Keybordist Richard Wright, was fired during ‘The Wall’ sessions and although kept on the tour as a paid touring musician, was not welcome back to the band. Joining the band on keyboards (but not as an official member), was Michael Kamen, who also played mediator between Roger Waters (bassist and chief songwriter)and David Gilmour (guitarist).
Originally planned as the soundtrack for the band’s big-screen adaptation of ‘The Wall’ (with the working title of ‘Spare Bricks’), Waters wanted to expand ‘The Wall’ somewhat by not only using material left over from those sessions (for example, although it was not in the original track listing of ‘The Final Cut’, “When The Tigers Broke Free” made it into the movie). Waters soon scrapped that idea when he took a step back and saw the goings on in the world around him (with an emphasis on Great Brtiain’s involvement in the Falklands War) and decided to change gears considerably. When asked about the concept behind the album, Waters at the time stated that the album “…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 chiseled 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.”
With tensions between Gilmour and Waters at a all-time high, the two decided to work separately on the project ‘The Final Cut’. Some of the concepts were left-overs from ‘The Wall’ that the band had originally rejected. Waters wanted ‘The Final Cut’ to explore what British servicemen (like his father, who died during the Second World War) might have felt like upon returning home after the end of the war (a prime example being “One of the Few” which features the schoolteacher from ‘The Wall’ as the subject, coming back to civilian life as a war hero, and “Paranoid Eyes”, which is the teacher’s growing dependence on alcohol). Gilmour has stated that “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?'” In terms of that point of view, the issues Waters was having with Thatcher’s involvement in the Falklands conflict couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Drummer Nick Mason also had his share of issues. Unable to handle the complex changes of “Two Suns in the Sunset,” his parts were “supplemented” by Ray Cooper. Needless to say, the band was falling apart. Waters agreed, as he reflected back in June of 1987 when he said that ‘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 realizing – 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.”
Released in March of 1983, ‘The Final Cut’ was released to very mixed reviews. In every way, but in name, a Waters solo album, the band chose not to tour in support of the album. Waters went to work on ‘The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking’, Gilmour on ‘About Face’ and Mason on ‘Profiles’. With Waters officially leaving the band in 1985, believing that the band was a “spent force” (not to mention applying to the British high courts to prevent the band name from being used again), ‘The Final Cut’ is seen as Waters’ most personal statement. Far less accessible than ‘The Wall’, ‘The Final Cut’ has proven to be a cult masterpiece within the Pink Floyd faithful.
For more information on Pink Floyd, check out the following links:
The official Pink Floyd website
Pink Floyd on Wikipedia
Pink Floyd on Prog Archives