The Nails Were Already In The Coffin
Not too much falls by the wayside or becomes glossed over when it comes to the history of Pink Floyd. For example, it’s widely known that the recording of The Wall was the main breaking point when it came to the legendary band. But what happens after the bricks come tumbling down?
During the late 70’s, the Floyd were going through many financial difficulties. Founding band member Roger Waters presented the group with an idea of what would become their second groundbreaking album (The Wall). So, the band decided to take the risk and record Water‘s massive musical undertaking. Unfortunately, things started to go south quickly. Conflicts within the band began to arise with songwriting and arrangement disagreements, producer Bob Ezrin showing up late for recording sessions, Water‘s over controlling attitude, and to end it all off; founding band member Rick Wright leaving the band. Even with The Wall being a huge success, the following tour was so ambitious that many technical and financial problems occurred more sooner than later. The tour, although groundbreaking, ended in failure. So where do you go from that point? Well, according to the remaining members of Pink Floyd, back to the studio!
Pink Floyd‘s final album with Roger Waters, The Final Cut, was originally planned as a soundtrack album (entitled Spare Bricks) for the Pink Floyd-The Wall film, but was later changed into a concept album for Roger Water‘s response to the Falkland Wars. Taking similar thematic and production points from The Wall, The Final Cut focused on the dark side of politics, the horrors of war, and Waters internal struggle of feeling betrayed by his fathers death in WW2.
Why does this album hide in the shadows though? It was basically The Wall Pt.2, so why do you almost never hear about this album unless mentioned in the annals of the groups history? Well, it all comes down to lack of enthusiasm on the bands part.
The recording process of The Final Cut saw some of the same problems from the previous album with disagreements and such, but the band at that point were also burned out and both David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason were not too interested in recording it. I mean, Mason was replaced on “Two Suns In The Sunset” and even though you can hear Gilmour‘s guitar throughout most of the album, he only sang on “Not Now John“. After the the recording sessions were finished, all of the remaining band members went their separate ways and recorded solo records with there barely being an effort to promote the records release in 1983.
One of the other problems ends up being that it doesn’t really sound like a Floyd album. In fact, it’s mostly referred to as a Roger Water‘s solo record due to the fact that he wrote all of the songs, produced it, designed the packaging, and shot an accompanying short video for the album entitled “A Requiem For The Post War Dream” featuring none of the other band members. Mason and Gilmour‘s lack of interest also didn’t help in really calling it a Pink Floyd album.
But what about the record itself? How are the songs? Pretty great actually! Only one tune falls flat for me and that’s “Not Now John” and it’s solely for the fact that I’ve never understood why David Gilmour sang on it. You can hear in his voice throughout the whole track that he just doesn’t care. However, there are so many strong tracks that build a hauntingly lonely atmosphere with songs like “Paranoid Eyes“, “One Of The Few“, and “The Gunner’s Dream“. One of my favorite opening tracks on any album, “The Post War Dream“, sets the whole tone for the album and that’s the only time that both Mason and Gilmour shine musically. The one idiotic move that was made was not including the brilliant track “When The Tigers Broke Free” on the original release (it was released on the 2004 digital remastering)! Having that track follow “One Of The Few” piggy backs beautifully to create the same atmosphere that The Wall created with “Vera” being followed by “Bring The Boys Back Home“!
Sadly, a great album fell by the wayside due to internal fighting and a lack of advertising. However, the record truly is a hidden gem among Pink Floyd‘s discography showing that the story of The Wall was not over and really captured the sound of what is left after the rubble. A mental breakdown was witnessed during the previous album and The Final Cut shows the aftermath. For your listening pleasure, here’s a link to the full playlist on YouTube of the 2004 remastering. Put some headphones on, sit back, and enjoy!