The Final Cut (1983)

Pink Floyd

"When the fight was over, we spent what they had made ..."

Pink Floyd's 1983 album could very easily have become a solo effort for Roger Waters. In fact, "The Final Cut" is subtitled "A requiem for the post war dream by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd." One doesn't have to read too far between those lines to see where the group was heading.

The band had planned on putting out an album called "Spare Bricks," composed of alternate takes and rerecordings from "The Wall" that appeared in the film "Pink Floyd The Wall." But the notion moved Waters to begin writing more material dealing with the tragedy of war, continuing the thread created in "The Wall." Thus, "The Final Cut" was born.

By this point, keyboardist Rick Wright had already been forced out of the group by Waters, who claimed he wasn't contributing to the band. During "The Final Cut" sessions Waters held David Gilmour's feet to the fire by threatening to scrap the project unless Gilmour relinquished co-producing the effort. It was the same technique Waters had used on Wright to get him to cooperate. So, in the end, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason were relegated to little more than session players, coming in to play their bits, while Waters, the album's sole composer, co-produced it with James Guthrie and Michael Kamen, both of whom participated on "The Wall."

Recorded at eight studios in England, the album was made between June and December 1982. The Floyd's own Britannia Row was not used for "The Final Cut." Gilmour and Mason were the facilities' sole owners by this point.

The end of the end

While many, including the band members who would continue on as Pink Floyd after Waters's departure from the group, have criticized the album as being little more than filler and outtakes from "The Wall," "The Final Cut" contains some of Waters's most moving poetry. If tensions among the band members were high during the album's making, the product was remarkably smooth.

"The Final Cut" would be exactly that: the last Pink Floyd album Waters would participate in. In fact, before "The Final Cut" even hit the store shelves, Gilmour and Waters were already well into their next projects: Gilmour working on his "About Face" album, and Waters plugging away at "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking," the concept Pink Floyd rejected in favor of "The Wall" in 1978.

"The Final Cut" rose to number six on the album chart in the United States. "Not Now John" backed with "The Hero's Return (Parts 1 & 2)" was released as a single in America and the United Kingdom, but did little on the charts. Collectors were wise to snatch up the 45: "The Hero's Return (Part 2)", essentially an additional verse to the song, is absent from the album. The radio version of the single was "obscured" to mask the recurring chorus of "Fuck all that" in "Not Now John." (We routinely play the standard album version of the song on "Floydian Slip," and haven't received any complaints yet.)

The album's cover design, a close-up of military medals, came from Waters. (The band hadn't employed Hipgnosis since 1977's "Animals" album.) The photo was taken by Waters's brother-in-law, Willie Christie, of Vogue. Elsewhere on the album, a soldier stands at attention in a poppy field. A knife sticks from his back, while a motion picture film canister is tucked under his arm. It's a mixed reference to the betrayal of young soldiers by their cold-hearted leaders, and to Waters's disappointment in "Pink Floyd The Wall" movie, which he alludes to in "Not Now John" ...

Not nah John
We've got to get on with the film show
Hollywood waits at the end of the rainbow
Who cares what it's about
as long as the kids go

In 2004, the album was remastered and reissued to include "When the Tigers Broke Free." That song first appeared in the 1982 film "Pink Floyd The Wall." It was later included in a Roger Waters promotional EP titled "The Wall Berlin '90" to promote his 1990 performance of "The Wall" in Berlin, Germany; and on the "Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd" compilation in 2001.

And, apparently, popular with chickens

In Steven Kotler's "Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief" (2006), the author details studies conducted by Jack Panksepp, head of affective neuroscience research at the Chicago (Ill.) Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch.

Panksepp was researching the similarity of emotional experiences that occur while listening to music to those experienced by runners during the so-called "runner's high." To that end, he played dozens of records by various artists to chickens he had attached to equipment that recorded their responses.

The chickens' favorite: "The Final Cut."
the final cut album cover

Release date

Mar 21, 1983 (UK)
Apr 2, 1983 (US)

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Track listing

  1. The Post War Dream
    03:00 (Waters)
  2. Your Possible Pasts
    04:26 (Waters)
  3. One of the Few
    01:12 (Waters)
  4. When the Tigers Broke Free
    03:17 (Waters)
  5. The Hero's Return
    02:43 (Waters)
  6. The Gunner's Dream
    05:18 (Waters)
  7. Paranoid Eyes
    03:41 (Waters)
  8. Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
    01:17 (Waters)
  9. The Fletcher Memorial Home
    04:12 (Waters)
  10. Southampton Dock
    02:11 (Waters)
  11. The Final Cut
    04:46 (Waters)
  12. Not Now John
    04:56 (Waters)
  13. Two Suns in the Sunset
    05:23 (Waters)