When last did you listen to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Final Cut’, the greatest anti-war album? Or are you like the majority of the Public that doesn’t know it exists, deafened by your repeat singing of the song, ‘Another Brick in the Wall’?
‘The Wall’ sold 30 million copies., more than your favourite Eminem or Whitney Houston album. “I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall…” sings Roger Waters on ‘The Final Cut’ which only sold one-tenth of that. It was the final release by the band with Waters who embarked on a remarkable solo career.
‘THE FINAL CUT’ IS ESSENTIAL ANT-WAR PROTEST
I’m on hunger strike. The corrupt politicians I’ve exposed are intent on jailing me, maybe killing me. I don’t know what will happen to me after I hand myself into the police later this month. Consequently, I’ve been having a lot of ME TIME with movies and music, listening to 6 of my favourite albums per day. It’s been difficult to choose what and who to give my attention to cause I love a lot. I used to be a DJ, band manager, blogger and compilation creator. I remain a music enthusiast with interests ranging from The Doors and Tears for Fears to Mastodon and Marilyn Manson.
From Floyd, I chose ‘The Final Cut’. Melody Maker deemed it “a milestone in the history of awfulness”, and NME criticised with, “Like the poor damned Tommies that haunt his mind, Roger Waters’ writing has been blown to hell.”
Waters responded with: “It’s absolutely ridiculous to judge a record solely on sales. If you’re going to use sales as the sole criterion, it makes ‘Grease’ a better record than ‘Graceland’. Anyway, I was in a greengrocer’s shop, and this woman of about forty in a fur coat came up to me. She said she thought it was the most moving record she had ever heard. Her father had also been killed in World War II, she explained. And I got back into my car with my three pounds of potatoes and drove home and thought, ‘Good enough’.”
Damn right! The band were falling apart yet delivered their most poignant moment (which is unearthly praise considering previous releases such as ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’).
WIKIPEDIA BACKGROUND TO ‘THE FINAL CUT’
‘The Final Cut’ was originally planned as a soundtrack album for the 1982 film ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall’. Under its working title, ‘Spare Bricks’, it would have featured new music or songs rerecorded for the film.
As a result of the Falklands War, Waters changed direction and wrote new material. He saw British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s response to Argentina’s invasion of the islands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and dedicated the new album – provisionally titled ‘Requiem for a Post-War Dream’ – to his father, Eric Fletcher Waters. A second lieutenant of the 8th Royal Fusiliers, Eric Waters died during the Second World War at Aprilia in Italy, on 18 February 1944.
Roger Waters said: “The Final Cut was about how, with the introduction of the Welfare State, we felt we were moving forward into something resembling a liberal country where we would all look after one another … but I’d seen all that chiselled away, and I’d seen a return to an almost Dickensian society under Margaret Thatcher. I felt then, as now, that the British government should have pursued diplomatic avenues, rather than steaming in the moment that task force arrived in the South Atlantic.”
Guitarist David Gilmour, who’d later become the band’s leader and lead singer, was unimpressed by Waters’ politicising, and the new creative direction prompted arguments.
In a June 1987 interview, Waters recalled: “The Final Cut was absolutely misery to make, although I listened to it of late and I rather like a lot of it. But I don’t like my singing on it. You can hear the mad tension running through it all. If you’re trying to express something and being prevented from doing it because you’re so uptight … It was a horrible time. We were all fighting like cats and dogs. We were finally realising – or accepting, if you like – that there was no band. It was really being thrust upon us that we were not a band and had not been in accord for a long time.”
The album is lyrically poetic and viciously critical of those who use war and the lives of citizens for political end. It’s also a single story, a mood that should develop without interruption. Consequently, I advise you to listen to it before watching the 4 videos Waters made. He was still reeling in the failure of ‘The Wall’ movie, a project of his and director Alan Parker had made. Maybe if he’d known then that it would become the most iconic music movie and eventually make $10-million profit, he wouldn’t have been as poignant on ‘The Final Cut’. Three cheers for depression.
THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL
In 1989, the Berlin Wall between West and East Germany was opened. The Cold War was over. I was 17 years old. It was a BIG DEAL.
If you’re too young to feel that important moment, remember what it was like when Apartheid unofficially ended the next year. Russia may have continued funding the ANC to ensure the IFP were defeated so that the ANC took charge of South Africa, but the world was in a period of change we were caught up in.
And if you’re too young for those memories, try imagine if Israel and Palestine were united now into a semblance of peace.
The breaking down of the actual wall, a double line with no-man’s land in between, began in 1990, the same year. Roger Waters staged a historical concert in that previous no-man’s land. It became the biggest selling event in history, with 350,000 tickets sold. But on the day, another 100,000-150,000 people were let in for free.
The half a million people required a big stage to look at. Set up as a mock wall, it was 170m wide and 25m high. It was partly built during the concert, and symbolically torn down at the end. ‘The Wall’ album was sung by Waters without Pink Floyd, but with a host of unlikely stars such Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Cyndi Lauper and the Scorpions.
Unfortunately no song from ‘The Final Cut’ was used but it’s a necessary companion for continuity… or a standalone for sensible people against war by governments for political and corporate profit.
Fuck modern music for having become a slave to consumerism that cannot show on a map where the country is that they’re bombing.
Fuck ‘Maggie’ and all those like her.