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Home arrow Reviews arrow Albums arrow Pink Floyd - The Final Cut (2004 Remaster)
Pink Floyd - The Final Cut (2004 Remaster) Print E-mail
Pink Floyd - The Final Cut 2004 remastered edition CD coverIncluding the extra track "When The Tigers Broke Free" and new 16 page booklet. Released by EMI Records, Europe, 29th March 2004 and Capitol Records, USA, 4th May 2004

Order your copy: the 2004 remaster of The Final Cut can be ordered at a reduced price through these links: US/International, UK/Elsewhere, France, or Germany.


Some might question the remaster and reissue of a largely overlooked and not overly cherished album from the extensive canon of Floyd's back catalogue. It is worth remembering though that thematically the album is important and links in with themes explored by Roger Waters in The Wall, and subsequently expanded upon in his solo career following his departure from the band (which this album marked the end of that particular era).

It is also worth revisiting the album - fresh ears reveal a great deal of good work throughout the album. Fans of Roger's solo works will particularly latch onto various parts, and indeed one of the tracks will be familiar to those who have attended Roger's concerts since this album was originally released in 1983 - Southampton Dock has become a staple of his live show.

It is true that the album was not one of the easiest or happiest that the band recorded, and signs of "classic" Floyd music are hard to find, but the well-recorded and rich soundscape pays dividends to those who spend the time getting to know the album. This new version gets the James Guthrie polish, and the addition of the track that was originally destined to join other leftovers from The Wall, on what was called for some time "Spare Bricks".

The positioning of this additional track, When The Tigers Broke Free, provoked some controversy when the plans to reissue the album with it included were first revealed. In this review, we will look at how well it fits with the album, and in the location finally decided upon, along with a look at how this new version sounds. Also, we will talk about the changes to the packaging...


THE AUDIO:

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut 2004 remastered edition CD discFrom the opening seconds of cars passing, a radio being tuned, and jingling coins, it is clear that Guthrie has done a fine job. The Post War Dream comes across with a lot more dynamics and depth, and this feel persists throughout the album. Instrumentation sounded a little weak on the original CD, as did some of the vocal. No such problems on this new edition! The heavy use of atmospheric or sound effect is also enhanced on this version of the album, but without boosting them so that the listener's focus is altered.

Clarity is such that a little background hiss can be heard in places on Roger's vocal, especially on The Post War Dream, but not to a degree that could distract. Nick's drumming on Your Possible Pasts is a joy to hear, and the delicate acoustic and bass guitars on One Of The Few have never sounded better.

Raph Ravenscroft soaring tenor sax on The Gunner's Dream reaches new heights, a nice counterpoint to the late Michael Kamen's delicate piano work on the same track. Some of the holophonic work (yep, they've not left that out!) works even better - listen to Paranoid Eyes and ...Desert for good examples of the effect.

To illustrate the new clarity, Southampton Dock has a few places where you can easily hear Roger open his mouth ready to deliver the vocal! The tenderness of the title track, a rare love song, comes across in Roger's plaintive, delicate, and at some points strained, vocal. The song also gives David Gilmour a brief chance of a guitar workout, before he's pressed into heavier service with Not Now John, never one of my favourites. To be honest, I was expecting this song to sound a little better than it does; not to say it is poor, and of course, towards the end it gets pretty dense with instrumentation and dialog...but I was certainly expecting better things here.

Finally, Two Suns In The Sunset. A fairly sparse track in places, looking at the futility of nuclear war, and the revised clarity found here just serves to make Andy Newmark's drumming sound even closer to Nick's than ever before. A great end to the album, and a sad parting of the ways for Roger, David and Nick.

All comparisons have been done with the original UK EMI edition, in a dedicated listening suite.

THE EXTRA TRACK:

To amend the running order of any Pink Floyd album is a guarantee to get much discussion and angst from the Floyd fan community. Any changes therefore need to be undertaken carefully, sensitively and with reason. When The Tigers Broke Free was due to appear on The Final Cut when it (Tigers) came out as a gatefold sleeved 7" single. Indeed, I recall surprise at the time when it didn't appear.

The omission has been rectified, with the track appearing between One Of The Few and The Hero's Return... initial reports were that it was to be sited after Two Suns In The Sunset, which, if true, would have been disasterous, spoiling any atmosphere built up as the song fades.

Whilst sonically it was clearly recorded seperate to the rest of the album, not sounding quite as good, the Pontardulais Male Voice Choir do sound suitably stirring. The brass and percussion sound a little flat in places though, and Roger's vocal also suffers a little.

Positionally, it works, absolutely without question - indeed, on relistening to the original version, The Hero's Return seems to start too soon, and thematically Tigers works well in context. It is a shame, though, that Tigers can be added into the album, but the second part of The Hero's Return remains as just the B-side to the Not Now John single. Maybe one for the 25th Anniversary edition!

THE PACKAGING:

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut 2004 remastered edition CD back coverAs you can see from the shots accompanying this review, a certain amount of revision of the original packaging has been undertaken - and for the better. None of it is out of place.

Firstly, the front cover features much sharper reproduction of the medal ribbons, under the slightly smaller album titling. The case features a removable sticker, promoting the extra track, rather than being printed on the cover itself. Turning to the rear, the picture of the soldier with the knife in his back looks a lot better. A direct comparison almost makes one think that the original is a cheap copy! Credits now appear for the album, on the rear, alongside the song titles, and a Harvest logo still appears. The original edition wins out, though, in not having the bar code to spoil the party.

The booklet has had a timely expansion, showcasing Roger's own designs for the album. The rear of the booklet now features an enlarged knifed soldier, unlike the original which had the track listing as well.

It is inside the booklet where the real changes are noticed. Gone is the iffy printing, where the text is indistinct in places, and the whole page explaining what Compact Discs are all about. In comes nine extra pages, two new (circular) pictures - one of which is reproduced on the disc itself, now in full colour compared to the bland text-only before - and lyrics you can read!

There's only two changes to the credits - the removal of "artwork: artful dodgers", and the amendment to the mastering to show James Guthrie and Joel Plante's work at Guthrie's Das Boot recording studio. Pink Floyd's management is still shown as (the late) Steve O'Rourke, and the overall copyright is changed from "Pink Floyd Music Publishers" to "Roger Waters Music Overseas" - although on the back of the CD, it credits "Pink Floyd Music Ltd"!

Overall, then, a worthy upgrade to your existing edition of the album. Not, as I mentioned earlier, the obvious choice for a remaster at this stage, but a welcome one nonetheless...and may result in many people re-appraising the music within.

 
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