Review of The Final Cut
The Final Cut
a requiem for the post war dream
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

    Roger Waters has gone too far!  Sorry for the outburst, but I just can't help feeling that way.  The trend that reached a certain limit with THE WALL finally crested the bounds of credibility.  Roger's obsession with cramming as many words as possible onto an album tipped the balance here away from that perfect Pink Floyd mix, and sent the band into the downward spiral from which it never recovered.  You'll notice in the liner notes it is listed as "by Roger Waters performed by Pink Floyd", as though the rest of the band was of total insignificance in the process (and maybe they would have preferred to be).  This is the album that convinced Roger that he could do just fine without the rest of the guys (erroneously), and created the ultimate split.  Though my friend Tony Barry likes this album a great deal, I find much with which to be dissatisfied.  And what's with the e.e.cummings affectation, anyway?
    I'll state up front (as if you didn't know) that I lean toward music that actually has music in it, so that is the biggest offense in this album, for my tastes.  I'll allow Roger the need to give a final "good-bye" to his father by trashing everyone who ever helped create a war, but it was virtually criminal to let so many other resources go to waste (i.e. Dave, Nick, and Rick) (Well, Nick gets a little chance to shine, but not too much.)  Since Roger is not a great singer, it's simply not possible for him to carry the melodies with the tone of his voice.  He's good enough to evoke strong feelings at times, but not to replace all the sounds that are usually created by the instruments of the band.

    the post war dream sets the tone for the entire collection.  It is musically extremely simplistic, and somewhat reminiscent of parts of THE WALL.  In fact, much of the "music" on this album was stuff that was eliminated from THE WALL by the rest of the band as being too far beneath their standards to perform.  (I think they allowed it here because they all needed some money, and no one else had been doing much songwriting in their spare time)  You can almost feel Roger's anger, not only at the war that took his father away, but toward his bandmates, who will just have to put up with his domineering ways one, last time. the post war dream begins a pattern of songs that open quietly, with soft chording underneath the vocal, then crash the chorus down around your ears in angry, shouting finales. your possible pasts continues that theme, and if you don't hear THE WALL all over this one, then you need to go back to music school.  Dave gets a short chance to play after the 2nd chorus in this one, but it's a pretty pedestrian solo, with little of the imagination or talent that he usually puts into his playing.  (Sort of an "I'll show you, Roger.  You can make me play, but you can't make me play well.")  Sad.
    one of the few really does affect me, but I'm not totally sure how.  Supposedly, Roger's father was a teacher before he went off to war, and Roger has great respect for teachers (don't tell me about Brick In The Wall - listen to all 5 songs with that theme, and I think you'll think differently).  Still, this song makes me feel that he is angry toward those veterans who got to come home and take teaching jobs, while his father didn't.  It's a very eerie ballad, but I like it.
    the hero's return changes the mood of the album to a much more interesting tempo, and seems to be the teacher's response to the preceding song.  It reminds us that it's not easy to adjust to civilian life again, but Roger ruins the overall effect with the poor segue ending that leads into the gunners dream.  This piece returns to the earlier pattern, but with a little less offense in the chorus.  In this one, the dead "gunner" dreams that everyone is at peace, and all the vestiges of military insanity are gone.  It's a pretty good dream, and Roger encourages us to try to make it come true - probably my favorite piece on the album.
    paranoid eyes reminds us of the other side of the "dream", those people who never fully give up the feeling that they are threatened.  It's a quiet sort of ballad, and a good reminder not to let our fears get the best of us, but it's not really a "tune".  It does give me the feeling that he's almost sorry that he wrote Corporal Clegg so long ago, as though he's gained some  sympathy for what war might have done to ruin a man.
    get your filthy hands off my desert is a short ditty poking fun at 3 leaders (Brezhnev, Begin, Thatcher) who fought stupid battles over worthless territories (Afghanistan, Lebanon, Falkland Islands), and uses a little classical string work to lead into the fletcher memorial home.  Here, Roger is ready to put all the warlike leaders into a home for the criminally insane (as though they were going someplace elegant) and then "the final solution can be applied".  [Yikes!] (You'll recall that Hitler coined the term "final solution" to refer to his extermination of the Jews.)  The more terrible irony here is that Roger named that home after his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, who was killed in WWII in Italy, 1944.
    southampton dock reminds us of those left behind in yet another tuneless ballad, which ends with the impossible-to-fit line that leads into the final cut.  Here, we hit another really good song.   Roger is asking us how we'll treat him if he allows us to see what he's really made of.  Since he's so well-protected by defense mechanisms, we'll have to try hard, but our interest may save him from himself, much as we did for him in THE WALL.  (I suppose there's a part of us that, by now, is saying, "Roger, stop begging for our intervention".)  Still, I think we almost feel compelled to like this man, who is so opinionated, angry, and strident, and at the same time so vulnerable.  Again we get a serviceable solo from Dave (happily, at that) between choruses.
    not now john really belongs on some other album.  After all these sparsely instrumentated semi-ballads, this profane rocker just really doesn't fit in.  The back-up singers are stereotypical, Dave's solos are almost formulaic, and Roger just seems to be looking for another reason to shout.
    two suns in the sunset brings the whole thing to a close, and not a moment too soon.  The ambient sounds {CPFS} here become almost a parody of past Pink Floyd moments.  Roger is trying to warn us about our potential for self-destruction, but the message gets lost in a weak conclusion to an uneven album.  Since this final ballad has a rather sappy pop-music feel, it doesn't even do the rest of this album justice.

    Because of the reputation of Pink Floyd (and the eager anticipation of their fans), this album went to #6 on the US album charts.  Still, it was a kiss good-bye to Pink Floyd as we knew them, and the end of a dynasty.
Return to the Main Page
Read Another Album Review
What are the Characteristics of Pink Floyd's music?
What Debates are raised by the Pink Floyd sound?
Check out the Glossary
Read the Worksheet
See the Listening List