That One Underrated Album

A good measure of whether an album is under-appreciated or not that I’ve always applied, involves comparing it with the rest of the band’s catalogue. Things can only get more obvious if the said band is enough well-known around the world that each and every album of theirs has a quality tag carved into it. Pink Floyd, undoubtedly, belongs in that category. To give a few examples, Ummagumma’ is known as the too-indulgent, too-weird experiment; ‘Atom Heart Mother’ as the middle-of-the-road, confused mess; ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as the almighty, universal masterpiece and ‘Wish You Were Here’ as the just-as-worthy successor of it.

coverAnd finally, there’s ‘The Final Cut’: that album were Waters supposedly went too far in trying to achieve his artistic vision, only to end up shamelessly alienating his band colleagues and completely ignoring the music itself in favor of the grand conceptual lyrics. Now, I’m not saying that the complaints don’t have their have their dose of truth, I just wish more people would give it a good, open-minded listen. True, it may not be up there with ‘Animals’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, from a musical point of view (few melodies grab your ear on the first listen), but more than makes it up for it, in my opinion, by being one of the most intense, atmospheric, captivating, emotionally-powerful, knee-weakening and simply best things I’ve ever heard in my life.

So, to make a connection with the idea described in the first paragraph, I truly think ‘Final Cut’ to be as good as any Pink Floyd work ever, just in an altogether different way. When seeing it mentioned among the band’s worst studio albums, I can’t help but raise my eyebrows in confusion.

And I’m sure I’m not the only who feels this way about an album. What’s the record you can’t help but think that anybody should love more than they do? What do you consider to be underrated?

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4 replies

  1. Great write-up and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of “The Final Cut.” I love this album, but for completely different reasons than I love much of their other work. I completely understand why a lot of people either hate it or have never given it much of a chance. I was 16-17 when it came out, so I was still at an open-minded and impressionable age. Can’t imagine any old fans getting into this 30 years after the fact.

    To answer your questions, I think Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” and “In Through The Out Door” qualify as underrated gems that are every bit as essential as their previous albums. Yet a lot of people seem to hate these records simply because they’re not as groundbreaking (although I think a lot of those people haven’t given these two albums the time they deserve). I’m sure there are other artists who have sadly underrated albums, but right now Zeppelin is what came to mind.

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  2. The Tragically Hip’s “World Container” – with the hip, most people seem to loudly proclaim “their older stuff was better. But this one from 2006 should not be overlooked!

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  3. My take on underrated albums. They are a category on their own for a simple reason. They may be good but not as good as the rest of the albums from the same artist or era. You surely know them since they share the spotlight because of the already familiar name, but don’t get many spins because they don’t meet up with the listener’s expectations. If years later, the audio current changes and the record happens to be on the same wave that is on the rise, it might get some more attention. But very few can become classics, mainly due to the indifference from a newer audience. What usually happens, is that after listening to death the famous classic albums of a band, people tend to look for the familiar voice, sound, production, lyrics. And they turn to the underrated album. And they are usually compensated, with the obvious exception being Bob Dylan and most of his albums, in the 80ies. That being said, I really believe that even then, the underrated album does not get as many spins as the classic albums. And that is an indication of its real value and flaws. I like The final cut, although I believe that it bares the name Pink Floyd only due to accumulated speed. The logical follow up to The Wall, should have been “The Pros and Cons of hitch hiking”, which was recorded as a demo at the same time as the Wall, but was shelved due to financial issues demanding a more commercial (and why not, the more the merrier ) a double album. As such Final cut was the first solo Roger Waters album, with the added bonus of Gilmour in guitar and some vocals, while Pros and Cons was the last Pink Floyd album, without any Floyd other than Roger. Which is a shame, because it is a fine album. And equally underrated.

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