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Pink Floyd – The Rough Cut (Highland HL600)

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The Rough Cut (Highland HL600)

(50:40) the post war dream, your possible pasts, one of the few, the hero’s return (part I), the gunner’s dream, the hero’s return (part II), 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, not now john (obscured version), the hero’s return (part I & II)

The final real Pink Floyd album began as a simple supplement to The Wall, a soundtrack to the film containing the tracks that were not included on the album (“What Shall We Do Now?”) and those that were featured in different arrangements (“Bring The Boys Back Home”).  When EMI released these two on a 7″ on June 26th, 1982 the artwork carried the legend “Taken from the album The Final Cut.”  However, during the recording of the album from June to December 1982 and the album’s release in April 1983 the project took a radically different turn into a political rant against the Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in general and the Falklands War in particular.

Dismissed by many as a protracted Roger Waters solo effort, the musical and lyric quality waver between the beautiful and profound to the stupid and cringe inducing.  There is very little in the arrangements that strongly evoke the classic Pink Floyd sound since Richard Wright was out of the band there are no synthesizers but a grand piano and orchestral arrangements.  Gilmour recycles almost every one of his classic solos and sings only on ”Not Now John.”  The sound quality of the demo is good but obviously high generation and sounds like the penultimate cut for the album since the sequence closely follows since the big changes are the introduction before “The Post War Dream” and the elimination of ”The Hero’s Return Part 2.”  (And we won’t discuss the 2004 inclusion of ”When The Tigers Broke Free” which completely ruined the flow of the narrative).     

“Post War Dream” lacks the introduction and some of the sound effects in the final version.  The one important lyric difference is, where in the commercial version Waters sings “Maggie, what did we do?” in the demo the first person plural pronoun is changed into the second person singular, “Maggie, what did you do?”

“Your Possible Pasts” has the same melody and basic arrangement as the final version.  It has the guitar solo but lacks the sound effects and organ.  There are two variata in the lyrics.  The first is when Waters sings “with cattle trucks waiting for the next time” instead of “with cattle trucks lying in wait for the next time” and the couplet “we could not get by on the little they gave / now our feelings run deep and cold as the grave” is inserted in the third verse after “shown how to feel good and told to feel bad.”  (Some sources claim another possible inclusion is “tongue tied and terrified we learned how to pray /now our feelings run deep and cold as the clay”).

“One Of The Few” is a short bridge between “Your Possible Pasts” and “The Hero’s Return” on the album and on the demo.  The acoustic guitar and melody are the same, but the demo lacks the clicking clock and has a deeper echo on the vocals.  There is probably so little change between two since this is one of the true outtakes from The Wall.   

“The Hero’s Return” is another outtake from The Wall, appearing on the initial 1978 demo as “Teacher, Teacher” and has the same lyrics between demo and final version.  The “sweetheart, sweetheart, are you fast asleep?” section differs between the two.  On The Final Cutthis part is whispered since it is a silent, one-way confession in the middle of the night.  But on the demo Waters doubles his voice with a screeching shouting below the whisper.  He apparently decided against this later in the sessions which was the right move since the scream doesn’t work at all. 

“The Gunner’s Dream” is a song unique for Pink Floyd since it is almost entirely orchestral with The National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen, Raphael Ravenscroft on tenor sax and Kamen on piano.  It is a beautiful song describing the death of a gunner in the war with a quote from Rupert Brooke’s poem “The War Sonnets:  V The Solider” which reads “If I should die tonight, think only this of me / that there is a corner of some foreign field, that is forever England.”  Two slight differences in the lyrics exist where Waters sings “Goodbye Ma, goodbye Pa” with no mention of Max and instead of “what’s done is done” at the end he sings ”what’s wrong is wrong / what’s right is right.”  Ravenscroft’s saxophone solo is also absent from the demo.   

“Paranoid Eyes” follows “The Gunner’s Dream” on the album but on the demo it is followed by “The Hero’s Return Part II”  It was cut out of the final version, appearing on the b-side of a 7″ with “Not Now John.”  The lyrics for the released version are:  “Jesus Christ I might as well be dead / If I can’t see how dangerous it must feel to be / Training human cogs for the machine / Without some shell-shocked lunatic like me / Bombarding their still soft skulls / With sticks and stones that were lying around / in the pile of unspeakable feelings I’d found / When I turned back the stone / Turned over the stone / Of my own disappointment back home.”

On the demo the lyrics are a bit different, reading:  “C’mon mama you might as well be dead / all those years you try to set your sights on me / It’s hard enough to drag myself from bed / without some shell shocked lunatic like me / Bombarding their still soft skulls / with sticks and stones you find lying around / in the pile of unspeakable feelings you found / we turn back the stone / when we turn over the stone / of your own disappointment back home.”

“Paranoid Eyes” is the same performance as on official album except this lacks some of the sound effects scattered through the song.  “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert” is a short prelude to “Fletcher Memorial Home” on both the demo and album. The version of The Final Cut is scored for string quartet while the demo features Waters singing accompanied by acoustic guitar and a slight change in the lyrics as “Argentina” instead of “Galtieri” takes the Union Jack.  Apparently the Falklands War wasn’t personal enough for Waters.  “Fletcher Memorial Home” is the same performance as on the album except lacking the sound effects and voice overs in the middle section of the song (“Scusi dov’è il bar?” among others are missing).  Also the ending of the song dissolves into the sounds of a steam train engine instead of the seagulls. 

“Southampton Dock” lacks the opening verse, but rather opens with the steam train engine.  And instead of singing “In quiet desperation knuckles / White upon the slippery reins / She bravely waves the boys Goodbye again” Waters sings ”unable to support her claim / that England is well lit / she bravely waves the boys goodbye instead.”  “The Final Cut” sounds like another true outtake from The Wall with strong lyrical thematic links.  It could probably fit very well on side three of the album between “Nobody Home” and “Vera.”  The outtake has the same lyrics as the final version except that the gunshot over “the wall” in the line “And if I’m in I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall” is missing.

“Not Now John” is the most Gilmour influenced track on the album, sounding like a retread of “Young Lust.”  Gilmour handles the verses on the album and Waters the chorus, but on the demo Waters sings all the words.  The demo is also lacking the sound effects, backup singers, Hammond organ, and has a different guitar break than on the version found on The Final Cut.  “Two Suns In The Sunset” is simply the bare demo with acoustic guitar and piano.  Andy Newmark’s drums, most of the sound effects and other instrumentation are missing.

The disc ends with two rare tracks, the 7″ with the clean version of “Not Now John” and “The Hero’s Return Parts 1 and 2.”  The former is the same as the final version except Gilmour sings “stuff all that” and the end of the song becomes very distored as if the label used a faulty vinyl copy.  Highland pressed this tape soon after it first surfaced online and used an interesting graphic design, taking The Final Cut cover, using white instead of black and the photo of the solider with the knife in his back on the front cover.  The rest of the artwork follows the same basic pattern.  Given the dubious artistic merits of this project, it is perhaps ironic that such extensive outtakes are available.  However this is an interesting album and hearing the demos in a fascinating glimpse into Waters’ creative process.      

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Pink Floyd - The Rough Cut (Highland HL600), 2.9 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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