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Obscure Musical Gems: Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

Another of my (unnumbered) series, I talk about works of music (usually albums (“daddy, what’s an album?”), sometimes songs) that I think are obscure (based on my opinion, of course) but also really, really good, and thus a gem.

There’s another gem that actually sparked this thought (coming soon), but I might as well start with something that might be used as a definitional example, and that’s Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut.

When one thinks of Pink Floyd, one thinks of the Wall or Dark Side of the Moon, not this one.  Yet, despite the general weirdness of the work, it is very strong.

The last release of the ‘real’ Pink Floyd (Gilmour and Waters together, not that the other members of the band didn’t matter, but…well, they really didn’t in the grand scheme of things) is obscure because it is, well, really kind of odd, a work of music sparked by the Falklands War.  As Roger Waters’ lyrics describe it:

Brezhnev took Afghanistan
Begin took Beirut
Galtiery took the Union Jack
And Maggie over lunch one day
Took a cruiser with all hands
Apparently to make him give it back

- Pink Floyd, ‘Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert”

Roger Waters’ father died during WW2, and so anti-war themes have long been a part of the work of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters’ solo work.  No surprise there.  There’s also general themes of alienation and whatnot (the title track ties in the anti-war theme with the personal).  Given the dissolution of the band that was going on during the time, it is no surprise that David Gilmour basically hated the album, but his guitar work is (thus) remarkably strong throughout, especially during ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home’, ‘The Final Cut’, and ‘Not Now John’, along with great sax work by Raphael Ravenscroft (especially on ‘The Gunner’s Dream’ and ‘Two Suns in the Sunset’).

The lyrical obscurity of the work, based on the war in the Falklands, contributes to the obscurity of the whole piece (I mean, it’s sparked by the Falklands War, think about it, it’s like writing a work based on the Contras in Nicaragua), but while I understand why many fans of Pink Floyd don’t like it, I think overall, it is a very strong effort and enjoy it whenever I listen to it.  Even if the anti-war theme doesn’t do a lot for you, ‘Southampton Dock’ is pretty powerful, especially as it flows into the title track.

And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?

- Pink Floyd, ‘The Final Cut’
posted on Monday, October 06, 2008 8:27 PM Print
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# re: Obscure Musical Gems: Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
JeffG
10/7/2008 1:53 AM
I like that album too. It's a pitty that this is one of their lowest selling albums. May be it's because it's "too much Roger Waters" and "less Pink Floyd". Nevertheless I like it, much more than the "Syd Barrett's albums".

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