Do you know what? The Final Cut is my favourite album by Pink Floyd. I’m sure that’s traitor-speak amongst (most) fans. And it makes me a very easy target for Floyd-haters. Short of saying The Wall (actually, an album I can’t stand) this is the easiest record for those never keen or now over the pomp and bombast – the pompast if you will? – of Roger Waters (and by association a version of Floyd) to mock.
But I don’t care. Because it is the truth. It is my favourite album by Pink Floyd. It is the album I enjoy the most when I play it.
This doesn’t mean I listen to it a lot – in fact, until recently, I hadn’t heard it in a decade or so…but it was always and now definitely still is my favourite. A complete album that I can play from start to end and follow; never boring with lengthy solos, not too long in its narrative arc and rewarding lyrically (Your Possible Pasts) as well as musically (The Hero’s Return).
It is an album that works because of the tensions (Waters and David Gilmour were barely speaking. Rick Wright had been fired – ironically it turned out to be a very piano-focussed album; Nick Mason was far more interested in his solo pursuits) and because of the indulgences. It is the final – definitive – Pink Floyd album and yet it is, basically, a Roger Waters solo album.
It is also one of the first Pink Floyd albums I fully immersed myself in (well I was 13 years old and I was forced to spend a week in New Plymouth…so…)
At this point both Floyd fans and non-Floyd fans (who still tend to enjoy parts of if not all of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals – as well as anything pre-Dark Side) are probably planning some comment about how I can’t know very much about the band’s career and/or I must be joking if I think The Final Cut is more important than The Wall or anything before it and/or Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is the one maaan!
Well, write away – I don’t filter the comments.
I’m just saying, as a fact, that I like The Final Cut more consistently than any other Floyd album – all the way through. And that includes during periods when I am almost completely uninterested in Floyd and am not playing their albums at all (ie: most of the last 15 years of my life).
I love that you can send a text message predicting every one of Mason’s drum fills on the album – and you can make a phone call during the fills. I love Dave Gilmour’s guitar solos on several of the album’s tracks – but especially Your Possible Pasts, the title track, The Fletcher Memorial Home and Not Now John. And I love the bonkers-approach of Waters.
I think I love that the most.
Making interesting art is about taking risks – and while many would listen to The Final Cut and (choose to) hear it as boring and/or not to their taste and so therefore assume that it is also safe this is one big giant risk of an album.
It is Waters finally announcing his full Svengali intentions beyond the project that was Pink Floyd.
And it is most obviously the perfect bridge between The Wall and Waters’ solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking.
This is not a plea to ask you to listen to the album again and reconsider. This is not written as a wind-up; this is just me saying that The Final Cut is my favourite album by Pink Floyd.
I like that it really signals the end of the band – and the way the band had to end – with Waters throwing his toys; with an over-the-top concept album; with the firing of a crucial member.
The Gilmour/Mason business partnership that took Floyd around the stadiums on and off for a decade produced A Momentary Lapse Of Reason – it’s half of a decent album with too much filler to make it really worthwhile. And then The Division Bell which is essentially a Gilmour solo album – meaning it really was safe.
The Final Cut is where it stops. And where it had to stop.
And yes, before you write in incredulously – I own every Floyd album. And the solo albums of all of the members; I even bought Rick Wright’s Broken China album – a weak facsimile of the copy-Floyd Division Bell album. And – at various points – my favourite Floyd albums have been Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Animals, the compilation Relics, Dark Side and A Saucerful Of Secrets.
I have loved them all – or close enough to it.
But I now know – listening to it again a few times over the last few weeks – that The Final Cut is my favourite Pink Floyd album.
Apart from anything else (and everything above) it has the best Floyd album-closer, Two Suns In The Sunset.
So, there you go. I lost your interest back at the opening paragraph, or you’re outraged or underwhelmed. It could even be a strange combination.
But what do you think of The Final Cut – if indeed you ever did think of it?
And what is the one Pink Floyd album you love and return to? What do you think is the best Pink Floyd album?