On March 21, 1983, "Pink Floyd" released "The Final Cut", and indeed it was the "final cut" of the classic lineup of "Pink Floyd".
Although the title of the album proudly bears the band's name, in fact, it is a Roger Waters' solo album. A hint of this solo project can be seen on the back cover of the album where it reads: "The final cut - a requiem for the post-war dream by Roger Waters performed by Pink Floyd - David Gilmore, Nick Mason, Roger Waters".
The reality was not far off. The band keyboardist Rick Wright was fired by Waters during the recordings of "The Wall" and was replaced by two keyboardists. Andy Bown on the Hammond organ and Michael Kamen on the piano. Michael Kamen will also produce the album alongside Waters and he is the one responsible for combining the symphonic sections with the rock music on the album.
Drummer Nick Mason, who supposedly appears as a member of the band on the back cover, hardly played on the album and his contribution was mainly limited to effects that are included in the recordings, as these are also mostly "recycled" from effects that the band used on previous albums. He was replaced by drummer Andy Newmark - a sought-after session player and former member of "Sly And The Family Stone".
Any idea or suggestion by David Gilmour was rejected by Waters, who controlled the project at a high hand. Gilmour also had to give up on the credit he deserved as an assistant producer of the album. Waters' takeover even led Gilmour to filter out something like: "If you need a guitarist, just call ...". Despite all this, David Gilmour will participate in singing along with Waters in the song "Not Now John" and will contribute some mind-blowing solos.
Despite everything we mentioned above, this is still a good album, especially compared to Waters' solo albums. The sales figures were not bad at all either, and the album gained gold status within a month in the UK and platinum status within two months in the US.
In terms of materials, most of the songs on the album are "leftovers" from "The Wall". Waters' original intention was to release an album called "Spare Bricks" which, as its name implies, would serve as a home for those "bricks" who remained after "The Wall" was built. The album was to focus on Waters' father - Eric Fletcher Waters who was killed in 1944, in a battle that took place during World War II, near Anzio, Italy. Waters did not get to know his father and later learned that he had conscientiously refused to go to war.
However, then came the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher set out to fight Argentina over a piece of land 8,000 miles from home, and that was enough to drive Waters crazy and make him change the original plan. This album became an anti-war and even anti-establishment and government album. Waters' focus was mainly on Margaret Thatcher, but not only. The album is aimed at other "hated" politicians such as Leonid Brezhnev, Leopoldo Galtieri, McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan and even Menachem Begin mentioned in two songs from the album.
Although this is not a full concept album like "The Wall", it is still not possible to treat every song and song in it as an independent one like a piece from the whole. If "Tommy" was defined as the first rock opera, then probably this album is defined as the first rock requiem - a classic rock funeral lament, ranging from rebuke to disappointment, between anger and pain, between rage and coming to terms with the loss.
This album is a kind of journey to which Waters takes us and not for nothing the first and last song opens up with the effect of a passing car. This album should be considered as a whole and it is highly recommended to read the lyrics in order to get into Waters' head and understand the context that runs like the second thread between a large part of the songs, although as mentioned this is not a concept album in the full sense of the word. Although musically there is seemingly no connection between the songs and no substantive recurring motif as in "The Wall", this connection exists in lyrics that connect some of the songs as well as small musical references from the opening song that recurs in two more songs from the album.
The journey opens with "The Post War Dream" and the passing car effect, with the TV announcer in the background reporting that the ship that will replace the "Atlantic Conveyor" sunk in the Falklands War, will be built in Japan. In the song, Waters refers to Jesus, his father, and Margaret Thatcher who for his part is responsible for shattering the dream and the hope that the horrors of World War II will not return. Michael Kamen's classic influences are already evident in this song.
The opening track connects with the effect of a door creaking of the second track "Your Possible Pasts" - an outtake from the album "The Wall". The lyrics are even mentioned in the movie "The Wall", where the protagonist Pink reads the content. A very dynamic song that ranges from melancholy verses to an angry chorus and one immortal solo by David Gilmour.
"One of the Few" is one of the two short ones on the album. It is another outtake from "The Wall", which even stars the character of the teacher from "The Wall", a former gunner who returned scarred to civilian life.
The third song connects to "The Hero's Return" in which the protagonist tries to live with the post-war trauma and deal with the loss of his teammates. "The Gunner's Dream", one of the breaking and moving songs on the album, is about the disappointment of an unfulfilled dream. The dream of a world free of tyranny, terror and wars versus the harsh reality. The album also addresses the terrorist attacks on the Irish underground in Hyde Park in 1982 and includes the thrilling saxophone solo and Waters' famous scream that just falls apart at around 4:10 and screams his soul out loud.
The first side of the vinyl ends up with "Paranoid Eyes" which again refers to dealing with the post-war trauma and the struggle to continue living despite the hardships. The protagonist is described as hiding behind "paranoid eyes" who fear ridicule from those around him. The song is very reminiscent in spirit with some songs from "The Wall".
The other side of the album is mostly dealing with the effects of the war. It opens with the missile whistle effect that accompanies us until the explosion in the song "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert". This is the shortest song on the album which mentions Brezhnev and Afghanistan, Menachem Begin and Beirut and of course Margaret Thatcher. The song ends with a vocal melody reminiscent of the melody in the song "The Post War Dream" starting at 1:03.
From there we are carried on the wings of piano and strings to the song "The Fletcher Memorial Home", another one of the most moving songs on the album, especially in the devastating solo of David Gilmour. It is a kind of musical "J'Accuse…!" Waters directed at world leaders, through which he expresses his disgust with them, for their desire to cause wars and destruction only out of ego and political needs.
We move to "Southampton Dock" which tells of the famous pier during World War II, where the family members said goodbye to the soldiers sent to the front. It's a song with clear folk influences, a style "Pink Floyd" has not "visited" since the early 1970s. It again has a reference to the song "The Post War Dream" starting at 1:11.
The next track is the theme song "The Final Cut". This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful songs on the album, thanks in no small part to the part after the rifle shot at 1:18, which is very reminiscent of an excerpt from the song "Comfortably Numb" from the previous album. No wonder this is another outtake from that masterful album. A simple and penetrating melody that blends perfectly with the lyrics of the song, talking about a lonely, rejected, and depressed person who, towards the end of the song, even thinks of suicide, but does not have the courage to make the "final cut".
"Not Now John" is the most rhythmic on the album and is the only one in which David Gilmour sings along with Waters as each of them plays a different character who tells the story. The song includes a melodic reference to the song "One of the Few". This part of the song is quieter, where Waters is the lead singer. The song's upbeat and drive remind us of "Young Lust" from "The Wall". This is the only single released from the album and it also deals with war, greed, and corruption.
The album is signed as it opens with the moving car effect that opens the song "Two Suns in the Sunset", in which Waters expresses his concern about a nuclear holocaust when the second sun at sunset is actually a mushroom cloud resulting from a nuclear explosion. This song features an asymmetrical time signature and frequent rhythm changes. Due to its complexity, the one who played the drums was Andy Newmark, similar to the song "Mother" from the album "The Wall", where the one who played drums was Jeff Porcaro.
The album was accompanied by a short 19-minute film that includes four video clips for the songs "The Gunners Dream", "The Final Cut", "Not Now John" and "The Fletcher Memorial Home". The film was directed by Waters' brother-in-law and the main actor in it is the same actor who played the teacher in the movie "The Wall". The former gunner who fought in World War II and became a violent teacher, sits in the living room and watches TV with his wife from the movie "The Wall," and is tormented by the news coverage of soldiers returning from the war, when his son is not among them.
Link to the film: Here.