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Music / The Final Cut

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"Through the fisheyed lens of tear-stained eyes..."

The Final Cut is the twelfth studio album by Pink Floyd — er, by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd — released in 1983 through Harvest Records in the UK and Columbia Records in the US. It is their last album made when Waters was still part of the band, and their only album not to feature Richard Wright at all (Wright appeared on their following album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, albeit as a very minor session musician providing the occasional bit of keyboards and backing vocals; he didn't regain official status until The Division Bell). In his place, the album's keyboard parts were performed by both Status Quo member Andy Bown and returning collaborator Michael Kamen, who also contributed orchestral arrangements.

Originally created with the intent of making a soundtrack album for the film adaptation of The Wall, incorporating several tracks that were left on the cutting room floor during the making of that album, the direction of this record radically shifted with the onset of The Falklands War. Waters, who was vehemently anti-war as a result of his father's death in World War II, decided to center The Final Cut around protesting the new armed conflict with Argentina. The direction resulted in Creative Differences between Waters and his bandmates— especially David Gilmour— and as result, Waters acted as the sole songwriter and lead vocalist on the album (only sharing vocals with Gilmour on "Not Now John").

Tying in with Pink Floyd's longtime affinity for surround sound, the album was one of the first to utilize the Holophonic system, an experimental engineering technique that used post-processing effects to emulate a binaural recording without the use of a binaural microphone; Waters would later reuse the Holophonic system on his debut solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, the following year. The experiments with Holophonics both here and there would presage Waters' flirtation with QSound on his 1992 solo album Amused to Death (often described by analysts as a Spiritual Successor to The Final Cut) and Pink Floyd's 5.1 remixes of their '70s albums in the 21st century.

Due to the tensions between Waters and Gilmour, this was Pink Floyd's first studio album not to have a supporting tour. To promote the album, a 19-minute video EP of four songs, "The Gunner's Dream", "The Final Cut", "Not Now John" and "The Fletcher Memorial Home", directed by Waters' then-brother-in-law, Willie Christie (also the album cover photographer), was released on home video and aired on MTV. Alex McAvoy, who played the Teacher in the film adaption of The Wall the previous year, appeared as a World War II veteran in the short film.

As a result of the album's tense production, Pink Floyd went on hiatus. During this time, the trio focused on various solo projects: Waters released and toured for The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Gilmour put together his second solo album, About Face, and Mason released the collaborative album Profiles with 10cc guitarist Rick Fenn. In December of 1985, Waters resigned from Pink Floyd, calling it a "spent force" and pushing to have the band legally dissolved by order of the High Court. In a 2004 interview with Uncut, Waters claimed that his resignation was caused by a lawsuit filed against him by his bandmates and Columbia Records, the band's U.S. label at the time, which would've forced him to make another Pink Floyd record with greater creative contributions from his bandmates or face financial ruin. Despite Waters' efforts, Gilmour and Mason chose to continue the band without him, leading to messy legal issues anyway in the form of a trademark dispute that would last the next two years, even after the release of the band's first post-Waters album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

The Final Cut is occasionally subtitled A Requiem For The Post-War Dream By Roger Waters. In addition to the video EP, it was supported by just one single: "Not Now John", as well as promotional releases of "Your Possible Pasts" in the US and Canada as well as "The Gunner's Dream" in Brazil. The non-album single "When the Tigers Broke Free", initially released to promote the film adaptation of The Wall (in which it was included), was later added to the album in 2004 and has been part of the official tracklist ever since. Incidentally, when the song was first released as a single in 1982, it was billed as a track from this album, making its retroactive inclusion an overdue case of tying up loose ends.

Preceded by The Wall. Succeeded by A Momentary Lapse of Reason.


Side One

  1. "The Post War Dream" (3:02)
  2. "Your Possible Pasts" (4:22)
  3. "One of The Few" (1:23)
  4. "When the Tigers Broke Free" (3:16) note 
  5. "The Hero's Return" (2:56)
  6. "The Gunner's Dream" (5:07)
  7. "Paranoid Eyes" (3:40)

Side Two

  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)

Principal Members:

  • David Gilmour - guitar, backing and co-lead vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Roger Waters - lead vocals, bass, guitar, synthesizer, sound effects, tape effects

Oh Maggie... Maggie what did we trope?:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: The video EP's scene for "The Fletcher Memorial Home" depicts Hitler as one of the inmates in the titular asylum, being reduced to a clownish oaf repeating old Nazi rituals to himself.
  • Album Title Drop: The title track contains the line:
    I never had the nerve to make the final cut
    • Also present at the end of "Southampton Dock," which transitions into the aforementioned title track.
      But in the bottom of our hearts
      We felt the final cut
  • All Are Equal in Death: From "Two Suns in the Sunset"
    As the windshield melts my tears evaporate
    Leaving only charcoal to defend
    Finally I understand the feelings of the few
    Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend
    We were all equal in the end
  • Anaphora:
    • The first bridge in "Not Now John":
      Make them laugh, make them cry
      Make them dance in the aisles
      Make them pay, make them stay
      Make them feel okay
    • A more minor one appears in the last chorus of the Title Track:
      Thought I oughta bear my naked feelings
      Thought I oughta tear the curtain down
  • Bilingual Bonus: Towards the end of "Not Now John", Waters yells "Excuse me, where's the bar?" in Italian ("scusi, dov'é il bar?"), Greek (the badly-mangled "Se para collo pou eine toe bar?") and French ("s'il vous plait, ou est le bar?") with increasing intensity, culminating in English with "OI, WHERE'S THE FUCKING BAR, JOHN?!". (Before that, one can hear a background voice going "Why don't you say that in Brit, fairy!?!")
  • Black Comedy: The fade-out on the closing track, "Two Suns in the Sunset", has a faint snippet of a radio news report with a weather forecast of "4000 degrees Celsius", a reference to the temperature of a nuclear fireball.
  • Bling of War: A very, very subdued version on the original cover (as befits the album's anti-war message).note 
  • Bowdlerization: The single version of "Not Now John" replaces "Fuck all that" with "Stuff all that", though the home media release of the video EP (also used as the song's music video on the band's official YouTube channel) uses the original uncensored album version.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the title track "The Final Cut", dogs can be heard barking and whimpering after Waters mentions them as one of the many barriers between himself and the listener, a reference to Animals.
    • "The Hero's Return" references the "dark sarcasm" line in "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" from The Wall.
  • Chamber Pop: Most of the album, thanks to Michael Kamen's orchestrations.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Not Now John".
    Fuck all that, we've got to get on with these
    (Fuck all that! Fuck all that!)
    Gotta compete with the wily Japanese
  • Concept Album: As with all Pink Floyd albums starting from The Dark Side of the Moon. In this case, the central idea is protesting The Falklands War and the jingoistic atmosphere that surrounded it.
  • Content Warnings: Australian copies and US promo copies had a sticker denoting that the lyrics could offend some audiences. This was more important for the latter as these copies were intended for play at radio stations, being under the authority of the FCC, as US stations could face fines for broadcasting profanity.
  • Control Freak: Roger Waters by this stage of Pink Floyd's career.
  • Day of the Jackboot: "The Gunner's Dream":
    Where you can speak out loud about your doubts and fears
    And what's more, no one ever disappears
    You never hear their standard issue kicking in your door
  • Deus ex Nukina: The final song, "Two Suns in the Sunset".
  • Double-Meaning Title: As revealed in the Title Track, the phrase "the final cut" refers to not only the last draft of a film before it gets sent out to theaters, but also the slitting of one's wrists and/or throat to commit suicide.
  • Downer Ending: Again, "Two Suns in the Sunset".
  • Driven to Suicide: The Japanese boy in the video EP's scene for "Not Now John" ultimately throws himself off a high ledge in the factory where the scene is set, implicitly on purpose.
  • End of an Age: The album's subtitle reflected Roger Waters' belief that Margaret Thatcher's rise to power represented the death of the "post-war dream" of a more peaceful world. With Waters' departure after its release, the album also marked the end of the "classic" era of Pink Floyd.
  • Exact Words: The 1982 single version of "When the Tigers Broke Free" proclaimed it was from the forthcoming album The Final Cut; the song did get included on the album... in 2004, over 20 years after it first released.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Taken to an unusually high degree in the video EP, where Waters' mouth is the only part of him not hidden in the dark. One eye briefly becomes visible when Waters' head jerks to the side in response to the shotgun blast in the Title Track, but that's about it.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The whole album.
  • Final Solution: "The Fletcher Memorial Home" has the singer planning one for the "incurable tyrants and kings" and the "colonial wasters of life and limb" by putting them all in one place and then applying "the final solution" on them.
  • Freudian Couch: Roger Waters is seen on one in the album's video EP.
  • Gratuitous Panning: "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" uses the album's Holophonic production to make the explosion at the end of the song "surround" headphone listeners.
  • Hidden Eyes: Waters spends his scenes in the video EP obscured mostly in shadow save for his mouth, producing this effect and adding into the angsty tone of the music.
  • Horrible Hollywood: As mentioned below on Take That!, "Not Now John" has a dig on filmmakers, possibly because Waters helped make The Wall into a Troubled Production.
  • I Am the Band: The Final Cut is essentially a Roger Waters solo album, with Gilmour and Mason (Wright having been fired in 1979) being relegated to sidemen. It was credited as "By Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd". The back cover with the infamous credit previously provided the page image. The "Performed by Pink Floyd" part would be omitted in the Discovery and Pink Floyd Records CD releases, but would be maintained on all LP copies.
  • Imagine Spot: Most of the video EP consists of scenes that the old veteran pictures while watching The Falklands War unfold on TV.
  • Interrupted Suicide: At the end of the title track, the protagonist "held the blade in trembling hands/Prepared to make it but just then the phone rang/I never had the nerve to make the final cut."
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The old Western superpowers' paranoia (with a racist undercurrent) over Japan's rapidly expanding economy in the 1980's is a minor recurring motif on the album.
    • It pops up "The Post War Dream"...
      If it wasn't for the Nips
      Being so good at building ships
      The yards would still be open on the Clyde
    • ...And in "Not Now John"
      Fuck all that, we've got to get on with these
      Gotta compete with the wily Japanese
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In "The Final Cut", the line that (according to the lyric sheet) goes "And if I'm in I'll tell you what's behind the wall" is in fact cut off by a gunshot after "I'll tell", suggesting that either the narrator or the listener failed to "make it past the shotguns in the hall", something a previous line expresses doubt about the listener's ability to do.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The meat of "The Fletcher Memorial Home" revolves around taking all the world's despots and subjecting them to the same injustices that they inflict on their countries: forced incarceration, Sinister Surveillance, and ultimately mass murder.
  • List Song: "One of The Few". "The Fletcher Memorial Home" lists various post World War Two politicians who are described as incurable tyrants fit for retirement.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The album closes with the 5:14 "Two Suns in the Sunset".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Several songs, most notably "Two Suns in the Sunset", which is about the destruction of human civilisation in nuclear war, but is a subdued, major-key ballad.
  • Manchild: "The Fletcher Memorial Home" describes various world politicians as such:
    Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The album cover is a group of World War II medals.
  • Past in the Rear-View Mirror: "Two Suns in the Sunset".
    In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
    Sinking behind bridges in the road
  • New Sound Album: The album has a more orchestral sound compared to the band's other work.
  • Production Throwback:
    • The line "Do you remember me? How we used to be?" in the chorus of "Your Possible Pasts" quotes the line "Do you remember me? How we used to be helpless and happy and blind?" in "Incarceration of a Flower Child", a song that Roger Waters wrote shortly after Syd Barrett's ousting but never released; the piece would ultimately be given to Marianne Faithfull in 1999.
    • Right before the above-mentioned Bilingual Bonus of "Not Now John", Waters chants, "One, Two, Free, Four!", as a reference to the band's earlier single "Free Four" (from Obscured by Clouds).
  • Protest Song: Nearly the whole album.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The veteran attempts one in the video EP's scene for "The Fletcher Memorial Home", bursting in with a revolver to shoot the interred incurable tyrants as punishment for their role in the continuation of war. However, as it turns out, the gun is unloaded and the inmates are used to playing along with this sort of thing, playing possum at first before walking back into the building unharmed.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The teacher from The Wall is revealed to be one. This is accentuated in the video EP, where the same actor from the film version of The Wall appears as an old World War II veteran.
  • Sinister Surveillance:
    • The "sinister" part is flipped on its head in "The Fletcher Memorial Home", in which Waters fantasizes about the titular location's "incurable tyrants and kings" being "safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye."
    • In the Title Track, Waters mentions "the cold electronic eyes" as one of many obstacles that the listener must surpass in order to access his vulnerable side.
  • Special Guest:
    • Prolific composer Michael Kamen and Status Quo member Andy Bown provide keyboard parts in lieu of the fired Richard Wright.
    • Sly and the Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark was brought in to play on "Two Suns in the Sunset" when Nick Mason was unable to perform the complex rhythm.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Unlike other Pink Floyd albums, where David Gilmour gets at least a few songs where he sings lead vocals, here he only has one: "Not Now John", in which he duets with Roger Waters.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: "The Hero's Return", "The Final Cut" and "Paranoid Eyes" all hint at the horrible consequences of emotional repression.
  • Surreal Music Video: Unlike the film adaptation of The Wall, the video EP for this album doesn't have much of a traditional narrative, instead featuring various odd Imagine Spots that an aging World War II veteran experiences while pondering The Falklands War.
  • Take That!:
    • The album is directed at England in general for its involvement in The Falklands War.
    • "The Fletcher Memorial Home" lists various heads of state who are "overgrown infants" and "incurable tyrants" who should be sent to a retirement home and have "the Final Solution" implanted on them: Ronald Reagannote , Alexander Haignote , Menachem Beginnote , Margaret Thatcher, Ian Paisleynote , Leonid Brezhnevnote , Joseph McCarthynote , Richard Nixon, and the entire Argentinian oligarchynote .
    • The video EP's scene for "The Fletcher Memorial Home" depicts Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill (who, despite his role in World War II, was an open imperialist), Napoléon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler as inmates in the titular asylum.
    • This part of the title track is likely one, given Waters' dislike of the media:
      And if I open my heart to you
      And show you my weak side
      What would you do?
      Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
    • In the song "Not Now John", Waters expressed his displeasure with Alan Parker, who directed the movie version of The Wall. In this vein, the album's art included a picture of a soldier holding a film canister with a knife in his back.
      Not now, John, I've gotta get on with the film show
      Hollywood awaits at the end of the rainbow
      Who cares what it's about as long as the kids go
    • The video EP prominently features the World War II veteran reading and sneering at headlines about the Falklands War in The Daily Mail, jabbing at the sensationalist manner in which British news outlets covered the conflict. A shot of the paper's front page is even prominently displayed during the last line of "The Fletcher Memorial Home" — "now the Final Solution can be applied."
  • Textless Album Cover: The original LP release was this once you removed the shrinkwrap. Most reissues of the album include the "pink floyd the final cut" shrinkwrap sticker as part of the front cover, similarly to The Wall and early CD releases of The Dark Side of the Moon.
  • Title Track
  • Trilogy: Was partly written at the same time as The Wall and Waters' solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking, and there are several Continuity Nods to both works.
  • Uncommon Time: "Two Suns in the Sunset", in 5/4.
  • Updated Re-release: The 2004 reissue added "When The Tigers Broke Free", from the film version of The Wall, to the album. It had only been released as a single before.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Waters, infamously, in "The Post War Dream". It's worth noting that Waters' vocal range has been measured at four and a half octaves.
  • Vocal Tag Team: David Gilmour and Roger Waters duet on "Not Now John", with Gilmour providing most of the verses and Waters providing the choruses, the last verse, and the voice of a heckling audience member.
  • Yellowface: The geisha girls in the video EP's scene for "Not Now John" are visibly played by white actresses in heavy makeup. This is contrasted with the Japanese boy — played by an actual Asian actor — who wanders the factory in the same scene.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Implicitly occurs in-universe in "Not Now John", where the narrator admits to dismissing the plot and content of a movie if it draws in family audiences. This is in the same verse that takes a jab at Alan Parker, the director of the 1982 film adaptation of The Wall, which is decidedly not for kids.

"Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend... we were all equal in the end."