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Dark Side of the Moon
The iconic Pink Floyd Album is 40 this year, yes really! Whilst I am much (well alright a little) too young to have bought the album when it first came out. At the tender age of 16 my friendship group were older, mostly college students and young professionals. So, I was soon introduced to such great artists as, Deep Purple, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Supertramp, Rainbow and of course Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd originally comprised of Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright and was formed by Wright, Waters and Mason when they met at college and played together in groups Sigma 6 and Abdabs. Around 1965 they recruited flamboyant art student Syd Barrett on guitar and vocals and became Pink Floyd. Originally their set was a mix of R&B and what we would now consider fairly primitive electronic music. Already quite unique, they were a big hit on the London music scene. No surprise then that they were soon signed to EMI records and in 1967 had two top ten hit singles "See Emily Play" and "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" from their first album "Arnold Layne", penned mostly by Barrett, the theme of the album was menacing images of childhood. One track "Overstellar Overdrive" hinted at where Pink Floyd where going with their music. Always loved and respected despite his problems the erratic Barrett left the band to be replaced by David Gilmour in 1968. Several more albums were to follow and interest in the group was building. On 24th March 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon was released, frequently described as gloomy and sombre, the pessimistic mood of the album suited the times; the oil crisis was deepening and in the USA the Vietnam War was coming to an end leaving many confused and depressed. The Dark Side of the Moon reached number two in the UK charts and stayed in the charts for fifteen years. It was the breakthrough album in the USA for the group debuting at 95 in the Billboard chart and staying in the USA charts for a astonishing 1500 weeks.
Water's lyrics about mundane life and the daily drudge were fused with what was to become the Pink Floyd trademark slow atmospheric subtly textured multi-layered epic soundscapes. On Dark Side to the Moon these incorporated carefully placed sound effects as a backdrop to the haunting lyrics and groundbreaking music.
So, having been introduced properly to this album, I soon bought my own copy adding to its ongoing chart success. I now own two vinyl copies, a tape version and two CD versions, for the sake of this review I am listening to the 30th Anniversary release on CD:
1. SPEAK TO ME: The introduction, begins with a heartbeat, overdubbed with a laughing man and speech, there is a clock ticking and chiming, the rhythm of the heart gets louder and as the volume starts to build and a speaker says "I've been mad for f*ck*n' years...., a second voice cuts in "I know I'm mad I've always been mad, like most of us are". The volume continues to build with sound effects and a building wall of sounds, that becomes reminiscent of the later track Us and Them. Probably the most groundbreaking iconic start to an album in 1973 and maybe today as well?
2. BREATHE: I love the drumming on this track, the recording brings out the clear bass notes of the drum and the long intro gives way to the wonderful lyric (ahem) "Breathe, breath in the air." Despite the sombre tag to this album, I actually find this track quite uplifting, well, until the third line of the second verse anyway. Gilmour's wonderful guitar skill is in strong evidence, but not overpowering. This track is short by album standards at 3 minutes 57 seconds, but it seems shorter partly because Speak to Me blends into it at the beginning, this album is designed to be listened too in one sitting, quickly turning over for side 2 (remember that?). The tracks effortlessly blend into each other.
3. ON THE RUN: Is made up largely of 3.31 minutes of sound effects and electronic music.
4. TIME: Time again, begins with sound effects, this time it sounds like a clock shop on the hour, reputedly it is a recording from an antique shop, again the heartbeat features and Mason's drums are prominent before the track breaks into the wonderful lyrics "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day..." the break after the second verse is a wonderful instrumental showcasing the guitars and drums. There is more of the riff from Us and Them at about 6 minutes which is now called Breath Reprise. This gives way to a solo piano and....
5. THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY: The piano is joined by the rest of the instruments to again revisit the Us and Them riff, building to a crashing crescendo with the vocalisation being some spoken words and the wonderful bluesy arghs of guest vocalist Clare Torrey.
6. MONEY: Taken for the theme to popular TV programme "Are You Being Served" is probably the most readily identifiable track on the album, and was written to represent the tide of greed and consumerism that Waters saw all around him. With its popsy rhythm and memorable lyrics, the first half of this track could have mass appeal as a single but for the use of the B*llsh*t word upsetting parents and the 1970's contemporary public. There is some wonderful saxophone work here. The instrumental with the dum dum de dum dum of the bass in the background and the screaming whoo whoo whoooo who of the Sax to the fore that takes the lyrical position temporarily, until the drums kick in with do do do da do do and the sax replies with the whooa who whoo. Then there is an orchestra of sound and individual happenings, with the screaming guitar coming to centre before again rising together as an orchestra. I dare you not to air drum, sax, guitar or conduct to this track. Truly amazing.
7. US AND THEM: Builds from the spoken voice, to the Saxophone again having the fore, this making it a very jazz influenced track especially around about 1 minute 30. The saxophone gives way to the lyrics, but is quick to rejoin the foreground at every opportunity. Obviously about war and politics, the saxophone becomes melancholy by about 3 minutes 50. Another track that typically builds and drops, ebbs and flows. The piano is given another airing to the fore, giving in to the increasingly melancholy saxophone.
8. ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE: A powerful instrumental, that again touches on the Us and Them riff at times. There is the call of the instruments where the lead and rhythm guitars are bouncing off and answering each other, a fun stereo short "filler" track.
9. BRAIN DAMAGE: " The lunatic is on the grass..." is how the lyrics begin for this track. An attack on society's despicable attitude towards mental health. Hopefully it raised some positive awareness. This is also the track that features the albums name "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon". Blends straight into.....
10. ECLIPSE: A choral feel at times, that may well have inspired Bohemian Rhapsody. Wonderful drum and cymbal work from Mason.
This is a wonderful album to listen to on a really good sound system or in a studio, where you can mess about with the levels. However, for the sake of this review, I have used a CD version and a personal CD player, so everything is set as it was for the 30th anniversary digital remaster edition. As I believe that most people reading this will listen to it in this way or even on an MP3 player (sacrilege!).
So as I lift up my Dark Side of the Moon Tea Mug, so endeth my quick review of one of the greatest albums of all time. Of course you may not think so, but the beauty of a review is that it is about MY opinion. What is undisputed is that The Dark Side of the Moon was an iconic, groundbreaking concept album, that paved the way for other groups, bands and songwriters. It is an album that many 1970's 80's ,90's musicians will list among their favourite and/or influential albums. Pink Floyd fans will tell you that The Dark Side of the Moon was not their best album, everyone has their own particular favourite. From my point of view the Floyd have never cut a bad record and there are many that I do not know very well. So, that is a totally biased unqualified statement! This, being among one of my favourite teenage albums is one I know very, very well. I think part of the beauty of this album is that although the lyrics are melancholy, the soundscape cannot help but be uplifting that is the enigma of this album. Furthermore, the variety of musical genre within this one "Rock" album is outstanding, at times, bluesy, jazzy, pop and rock, feature as does orchestral and choral, but above all it is an experimental progressive rock album that features psychedelic sound to create an imagined visual.
To the older reader, please do dig out your copy or get a CD version. This is an early 1970's album that stands the test of time.
To the younger reader, please buy or borrow a copy, dim the lights, turn up the volume and sit and listen to Dark Side of the Moon all the way through at least twice before you pass judgement or read the lyrics. There is no need for additional personal enhancement with this album; there will be people who tell you they were out of it and doing this and doing that listening to it. That is not good and not necessary. The ensuing talent melody and lyrics are all you need.
If you weren't there, take a look at the social history of the early 70's too and see what inspired the lyrics, as they are contemporary if the time.
Listened to best when you just want to sit and listen to music, maybe whilst looking through photo albums or similar, this album will work as background music in just about any situation. It works to vacuum to, to dust to and to work out to (just). Should you buy a copy - hell yeah!
Available from all good record stores, Amazon and eBay. The CD version is currently (Aug 13) available from Amazon at £11.89.
Score 10 out of 5 - yes I do rate it!
© LG I have previously written (now long forgotten) article about Pink Floyd.
6 months later: I cannot believe it is 6 whole months since I wrote this review!
Released in 1973 and reaching no.2 in the UK charts in March of that year, The Dark Side Of The Moon was Pink Floyd's ninth album. Rumoured to have largely been inspired by former Pink Floyd member and front-man Syd Barrett, this album is an easy to listen to, yet somewhat dark collection of songs which although imaginative, lack the pounding psychedelic arrangement which Barrett invented and lent to their earlier work.
The first track, Speak To Me, opens with a melee of strange, disjointed voices, some mad laughter, an odd electronic percussive sound and a huge crashing chord. The song then lapses into a gentle, dreamy, soporific melody which contains an air of melancholia and quite a few minor chords. The percussion, although muted, still comes across as quite prominent, overlayed by a sliding, mournful-sounding slide guitar. The vocals are typical of Dave Gilmore, with the lyrics somewhat enigmatic, but appearing to focus on the drudgery of everyday working life. The second half of the song is primarily played on synthesiser, turning high energy and repetitive....even a little 'trippy', almost like a journey through space on a psychedelic rocket ship. The percussion during this piece is quiet, but fast and insistent, creating a mesmeric quality as it melds with the keyboard sounds from the organ, synthesiser and an occasional long slide down an electric guitar fret board, accompanied by more manic laughter. The song closes with a huge crashing chord on all the instruments melded together, with another piece of mad laughter. I'm not so keen on the first, essentially vocal part of Speak To Me, but I do love it when it dives straight into the weird second half, which is best listened to with an open soul and mind. It is a bit weird if you aren't used to that sort of music, but is far tamer than anything the band had done when Barrett was their creator, their leader and avant-garde dynamic force.
The next tracks, Breathe In The Air/On The Run/Time and The Great Gig In The Sky all follow on from one another, melding into one long piece of music. This suite opens with a low synthesised roar, and some rather disjointed quiet drumming - then, all hell breaks loose with the sounds of assorted loudly chiming clocks. The drumming, which almost has a coffee-percolator sound, takes the song into the next phase. The tune actually is quite pretty, played on what I believe to be a xylophone, a second drum that has a bongo-type quality, and some crashing guitar chords. This track has an interesting feel to it and during that instrumental opening part, sounds like a fusion of different styles of world music. However, the vocals then begin and the song becomes quite rock-ish, with firm vocals and some heavy-ish rhythm guitar. There is slight funky quality to some of the rhythm guitar, this being quite a complex song which melds together many different musical styles. The guitar work during the middle-eight is very typical of how Pink Floyd came to be recognised during their later album offerings, such as The Wall....sliding, urgent, high-pitched and a little melancholic. I do like this track, but find it difficult to disassociate my appreciation of it from the early 1970s, as this album was one I listened to a lot when it was in the charts. Lyrically, I find it rather weak, but the instrumental content more than makes up for that....as the music moves on, it takes on a mood of slightly depressive, slow laziness, the song ending on a minor key which can create a sad feeling in the listener. The track then seamlessly eases into the remaining parts, On The Run/Time and The Great Gig In The Sky, moving into soft, slow piano notes backed up by some gentle sliding guitar. The tune takes on a very sad quality, then a spoken voice joins in...what the voice is saying isn't distinguishable, but it has a touch of madness about its tone. The music then mutates into a wailing, female voice almost screaming out the main tune....there are no words, just a vocal improvisation over the instrumental backing. There for me is something quite dark, despairing and bleak about the mood these conjoined tracks, especially as on completion, the music winds down to a quiet close with just the female vocalist backed by soft, gentle piano. This is probably one of my more favoured pieces on the album, as I like the emotional intensity it projects, even though it can bring me down if I'm already feeling fragile.
We then come to Money, which is probably the best known track from this album. It has a steady, yet quite urgent sounding tune, with solid percussion, strummed guitar chords and a little electric piano here and there. The vocals are quite strained, but rather soulful, bearing in mind this isn't soul music....now and again, the sound of a cash register punctuates the very 'together', cohesive sound of the song as a whole. The lyrics are quite scathing, decrying blind monetarism, although I do feel other songwriters have managed to hit harder with their words on this topic. The middle-eight of Money has a lovely, at certain points almost screaming sax take up the lead, which is then followed by an interesting lead guitar improvisation...not too complex, but nonetheless good to listen to. For me, Money is a song whereby I find the instrumentals and the whole arrangement more appealing than the vocals and lyrics, as it has a steady, interesting beat with some clever musical arrangement....the percussion is good too. The last part of the song brings back the vocals, winding down with a repeat of the words from the first verse. I think I'd prefer the track if the vocals didn't return, the instrumentals winding the song down slowly and quietly, but this is a nonetheless all-time Floyd classic.
Us And Them carries on from the previous track, with the merge being seamless. A soft, quiet guitar with gentle percussion sets the scene, with the tune a little dark and a little melancholic. A nice, warm, fuzzy piece of sax playing backed by soft, but very definite piano chords precedes the vocals which begin....a little uninspiringly as far as the words are concerned, yet are sung with an almost mystical quality. There is more than a hint of Syd Barrett's influence in the mood and arrangement of this song, although it is tamer than I suspect he would have created it himself. As the song progresses, it becomes louder and more choral in vocal content...perhaps a little too heavy for my liking, and I prefer it when it returns to the softer, easier on the ear sounds. However and throughout, the loudness wavers, moving evenly between an almost ballad feel and a high-powered prog-rock sound. As in the other tracks above, a muttering voice can occasionally be heard, presumably intended to be the utterances of someone teetering on the edge of sanity. The differing moods in Us And Them are rather interesting, as although this by no means is a 'get up and boogie' song, it wavers between tranquility and angst.
Any Colour You Like runs straight on, seamlessly, from Us And Them, consisting largely of a miasmic tune played on synthesiser, gentle percussion, having an almost spaced-out feeling, like a kaleidoscope pattern in your head whilst floating on a lilo, half asleep, far out on a calm sea. The guitar later in the track is fazed in a weird way, which I'm not too keen on....it is all but impossible for me to find the words to describe exactly how it sounds though, but it does smash out some of the dreamy feel.
Brain Damage merged with the final song, Eclipsed, follows immediately on from the previous track, and each time I've heard this during my life, I've often wondered how much of it was inspired by, or even about, Syd Barrett? The Brain Damage part is soft and quite pretty, but with an edge of madness present in the tune. The backing of voices, percussion, and synthesiser combination is almost like a wall of sound in the middle of the song, as it oscillates between loud and quiet....occasionally punctuated by the mad laughter which appears elsewhere during this album. This dual piece almost screams post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, appearing to set the precedent for everything the band followed on with throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s. As the track merges into Eclipse, which is no more than a variation on Brain Damage, I find it a little too long, being far too repetitive as it eventually takes the whole album down to a close.
My own CD of The Dark Side Of The Moon is digitally re-mastered, but as it is approximately 15 years old, I guess that further and perhaps improved re-masterings have since been released. The inner sleeve carries the classic black background with a rainbow-coloured laser beam passing through a triangle, but the notes and information available are rather sparse, merely consisting of a tracklist and names of the band members. As far as listening quality is concerned, the re-mastering on my CD does enhance the complex musical arrangement and picks up on some little background features which are almost inaudible when listening to the album on vinyl or audio cassette, but a level of depth to the overall sound has been lost from the good old days of 33 1/3 rpm vinyl.
Musically, The Dark Side Of The Moon is an all-time classic, yet although I love and cherish it as a more than significant part of my past, it for me isn't Floyd's best album offering. It shouldn't really be for me to hurl even vague criticism at one of the greatest of all time albums ever made by one of the greatest all time rock bands - their music has made them multi-millionaires whereas I'm still living on the breadline, so they must be doing something very right - but I'd like the lyrical content of The Dark Side Of The Moon to be more direct and more thought-provoking. However, my minor gripes don't prevent me from awarding full star marks for what, aside from the lyrics, is a mostly wonderful, all-time best-selling classic album that has stood the ravages of passing decades, it being both instrumentally imaginative and superbly arranged....simultaneously gentle and intense, 'trippy' in parts, powerful, thoughtful and penetrating.
New: from £6.76 to £22.99
Used: from £2.38 to £20.16
Collectible: from £6.00 to £60.00 (all used)
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
"The Dark Side of the Moon" is the 8th studio album by British psychedelic rock band, Pink Floyd. It was released in 1973 on Harvest Records and produced by the band. The line-up for the album was David Gilmour (vocals/guitar), Roger Waters (bass/vocals), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards/vocals).
Some of the most advanced recording techniques of the time were used to record this album, including tape looks and multi-track recording, giving it a sound that was cutting edge at the time, yet perpetually timeless. Themes of mental illness, the effect passage of time has on one's life, greed and conflict. The tracks reflect the varying stages of human life, from birth to death, beginning with a heartbeat to open the album, and a heartbeat fading to silence to end the album.
The theme of mental illness is due to Syd Barrett, and the other themes explore many aspects of the human condition through the course of a lifetime. Passage of time and feeling helpless to slow it down, greed and conflict are all things that can affect anyone.
Snippets of taped interviews with the crew and people who were in the studio at the time provide insightful quotations throughout at album. Some of these can be heard in between songs, and some are used in songs.
"Speak to Me" is an overture, of sorts, for the album. There are no lyrics, but it does have spoken parts of taped conversation. Many of the sound effects used are also used in other songs later in the album which helps tie things together to create an ongoing, ever emerging theme. Some of those sounds include the cash register sound which is heard on "Money", the ticking clock from "Time", and Clare Torry's wailing instrumental vocalising from "The Great Gig in the Sky". Maniacal laughter is provided by road manager Peter Watts. The spoken parts refer to madness, and the person's awareness he has been quite mad for a long time.
"Breathe" is sometimes considered to be part of "Speak to Me", because one segues seamlessly into the other through the use of a backward piano chord. This track offers blues based chords and solos, and is slow paced but has a rich, complex texture to the sound. David Gilmour uses electric guitar with a uni-vibe, which is a foot pedal operated phase shifter used to create chorus and vibrato simulations for guitar. He also uses a lap steel guitar with overdubs and a volume pedal.
"On the Run" is an instrumental said to be about the pressures of travel, particularly Richard Wright's fear of flying, although Wright has said it would often bring the fear of death. It features an eight note sequence entered into synth and sped up, with added white noise generator providing the hi-hat sound. There are backward guitar parts created by special effects. At 27 seconds in, there is the sound of a female voice, as if on an airport PA system, saying, "Have your passport ready and then follow the green line to customs and immigration. BA flight 215 to Rome, Cairo and Lagos." Then, at 1:54, you hear "Live for today, gone tomorrow. That's me.", then laughter. The second one was provided by Roger "The Hat" Manifold. Near the end, only the guitar part is heard over the supposed explosion of an aircraft, which fades as "On the Run" segues into "Time.
"Time" begins with an intro of clocks chiming and alarms ringing, recorded one at a time in an antiques shop as a test and not originally planned for this album. It was only when this song was included that anyone though to make them part of the song. The clock intro is followed by two minutes of a Nick Mason drum solo, but featuring a background effect of a clock 'tocking', performed on Roger Waters' bass. Lyrics tell of taking control of your own destiny, with a theme of time slipping away without people realising until it is too late. The track ends with a reprise of "Breathe", but with different lyrics used.
"The Great Gig in the Sky" is a slow tempo instrumental featuring voice instrumental music by Clare Torry. The band played the song to her and asked her to improvise her part. She says the thought of "maybe I should just pretend I'm an instrument" was what inspired her to achieve the sound she did. She has a stunning voice and amazing range. Pink Floyd had tried a variety of sound effects but none suited them, before coming up with the idea of having a female vocalist 'wail' over the instruments. At 38 seconds in, you hear "And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it -- you've got to go sometime.", provided by Gerry O'Driscoll who was Abbey Road Studios janitorial staff at the time. Then at 3:33, very faintly, "I never said I was frightened of dying.", said by Patricia 'Puddie' Watts, wife of Pink Floyd road manager Peter Watts.
"Money" begins with a seven beat loop of money related sound effects including a cash register ringing, coins jangling, paper tearing and a counting machine. The song, which features a very distinctive bass line, offers an extended guitar solo done in a different time signature to the rest of the song. Dick Parry features as a guest artist, providing the tenor saxophone just before the guitar solo. Some of the lyrics are referenced in the film "Pink Floyd: The Wall" during the scene where Pink is caught writing poetry in class and the reads it out. For the distinctive high notes following David Gilmour's guitar solo, he plays a customised guitar with a four octave range.
"Us and Them", at seven minutes 46 seconds, is the longest track on the album. It is quiet in tone, with the choruses louder than the verses. Featuring two saxophone solos, one at the beginning and one near the end, it begins with an intro of organ harmonies by Richard Wright, followed by a short piano solo. It was originally written by Wright as an instrumental using only piano and bass, for the 1969 film "Zabriskie Point", and was titled "The Violent Sequence" but it was rejected because the director was looking for something in the style of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". It was then shelved until "The Dark Side of the Moon" project, and Roger Waters added lyrics to it. The lyrics explore the isolation felt by people who are depressed, and is symbolic of conflict.
"Any Colour You Like" contains no lyrics, although some scat vocals were added. The track is a mostly synthesised tune that segues into a guitar solo. Advanced sound effects techniques for the time were used to create the rise and fall keyboard solo and the harmonizing guitar solo that lasts until the end of the song. One thought is that the song is about a fear of making choices. Another alludes to Henry Ford saying 'You can have any colour you like, as long as it is black.' when describing the Model T Ford. However, in an interview with author and musicologist Phil Rose, Roger Waters said: "In Cambridge where I lived, people would come from London in a van - a truck - open the back and stand on the tailboard of the truck, and the truck's full of stuff that they're trying to sell. And they have a very quick and slick patter, and they're selling things like crockery, china, sets of knives and forks. All kinds of different things, and they sell it very cheap with a patter. They tell you what it is, and they say 'It's ten plates, lady, and it's this, that, and the other, and eight cups and saucers, and for the lot I'm asking NOT ten pounds, NOT five pounds, NOT three pounds . . . fifty bob to you!', and they get rid of this stuff like this. If they had sets of china, and they were all the same colour, they would say, 'You can 'ave 'em, ten bob to you, love. Any colour you like, they're all blue.' And that was just part of that patter. So, metaphorically, 'Any Colour You Like' is interesting, in that sense, because it denotes offering a choice where there is none. And it's also interesting that in the phrase, 'Any colour you like, they're all blue', I don't know why, but in my mind it's always 'they're all blue', which, if you think about it, relates very much to the light and dark, sun and moon, good and evil. You make your choice but it's always blue." Whatever the true meaning behind the song, it is a brilliant piece of music and one you will want to listen to over and over.
"Brain Damage" is an in depth exploration into mental trauma caused by a meteoric rise to fame and not being ready for it, drug use and the effects of always putting the band and your career above your own emotional health. Syd Barrett's breakdown and spiral into madness is alluded to in the lyric 'and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes.', because at the end of his time with Pink Floyd, due to his mental illness, Syd would occasionally play a different song than the rest of the band during concerts. This is the only song on the album to feature Roger Waters as solo lead vocalist. The song had been titled "Dark Side of the Moon", but it was decided to give that name to the album, although many people mistakenly still refer to the song as "Dark Side of the Moon". The somewhat slow, ballad feel gives the song a depth of emotion fitting of the subject matter , and more feeling considering it is an ode to a dear friend. The maniacal laughter is provided by Peter Watts.
"Eclipse" is seemingly part of "Brain Damage" because they run together, but it is, in fact, a separate song. Most of the song is a loud, repetitive, building melody before it ends a bit more quietly. Gerry O'Driscoll can be heard saying "There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun.", during the track, which is part of his full answer to the question 'What is the dark side of the moon?" At the one and a half minute mark the heartbeat from "Speak to Me" can be heard. The song ends with the same heartbeat, slowly fading into silence. This brings the album full circle, as though we have witnessed a life, from the first heartbeat through all the ups and downs, to the final, fading beat.
In summary, one listen will let you know why this is consistently in top albums of all time lists, and why it remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. You'll search far and wide to find a more technically brilliant album that still has a lot of heart and feeling to it. Each song on it is a masterpiece in its own right, but when you put them all together the perfection is nearly indescribable. I can easily recommend this album to anyone who loves music. You don't need to be a rock fan to appreciate the brilliance of "The Dark Side of the Moon". The clever ways the guys of Pink Floyd create their sound effects give them a unique spin on the sounds even though the sounds are easily discerned as what they are meant to be. The sounds are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the song, making them part of the music itself. "The Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the 'must own' albums for every music lover.
1. Speak to Me
3. On the Run
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
7. Us and Them
8. Any Colour You Like
9. Brain Damage
My rating: 10/10
Dark Side Of The Moon is often viewed as the ultimate headphone-album and when listening to it with cans on it's easy to understand why. Over the course of 43 minutes a series of interlinked songs, layered by heart beats, chiming clocks, cash registers and intermittent, inconsequential conversations ricocheted from one ear to the other. Beginning in total silence, gradually a faint heartbeat became audible, a muttering voice appeared, feeding through to the first song 'proper', Breathe. Continuing the recent rock tradition for concept albums, the agenda for Pink Floyd covered madness and death, ignited by modern day lifestyle pressures, with its inherent necessity to rush around from A to B and back again. Work, work and more work is for most of us all that life seems to be about - no wonder that so many related to its meaningful lyrics.
Contemporary life is a constant race against the clock but surely nothing compares with the frantic footsteps, running to get somewhere on the synthesiser rush, On The Run. So much puffing and panting, the sweat could virtually be felt dripping off the face. Was that rushing worth it in the end, as the sounds of a crash brought the track to a dramatic conclusion? The explosive booms resulting from the disaster slowly subsided, to be 'out-noised' by the gentle ticking of clocks. Coming so soon after manic energy, the shift in pace couldn't have been more extreme. Then, it was enough to test the calmest nerves, as though in a possessed jeweller's store, every demonic clock began chiming. Anyone playing the LP for the first time whilst wearing headphones would surely be in need for a tonic - alcoholic or chemical. Fortunately, a musical solution came in the shape of the album's centrepiece, Time. The idea of growing old, just a little too quickly, is something that strikes a recognisable chord. Life can be miserable and mundane, where if we're not careful, the most precious thing passes by and before we know it, it's too late. During the innocence of youth it would be disturbing to think that the days were passing by too fast. Then as we get older, weeks, months and years propel away from us in the fading sunset. The song's lyrics said everything about this emotive issue, but adding a thrilling texture, came one of those awesome guitar solos for which David Gilmour remains worshipped as a rock god.
Side 1 concluded with guest vocalist, Clare Torry, displaying a good time without speaking any words.
The Great Gig In The Sky it was called, but more earthly pleasures were noted - the closest music's been to capturing an orgasm and putting it on vinyl.
Money, released as a 45, became a minor hit in America where its radio-friendly appeal helped boost album sales. A venomous song, fuelled by anger and blunt-talking, in some respects it also came across as being a poke at themselves and the industry they were unwillingly becoming locked into. The relaxing atmosphere generated by Us And Them almost hid the moral tale of injustice during the Great War, when millions died and for what? A fortunate few were not subjected to 'going over the top' (Them), whilst the lower/working classes (Us) were looked upon as having no value attached to their lives. Above all, this track complete with a theme simultaneously focused on paranoia, was complemented by a superb saxophone solo by Dick Parry.
Less traditional instruments were used on the synthesiser instrumental paradise Any Colour You Like, before modern lifestyle anxieties returned for the penultimate, Brain Damage. The lunatic began on the grass (the lawn or smoke?), then menacingly moved towards the hall and in to the head. It was about break-ups and cracking-ups. It was also impossibly simplistic and yet so totally captivating.
Dark Side Of The Moon was one of the definitive markers during the seventies, displaying a new peak in recording excellence and showing how good progressive rock could get. Those subsequently purchasing the CD version still had the printed lyrics included, but missed out on the other surprises received with the vinyl all those years ago. The freebies inside the LP cover featured stickers and two posters (one picturing the band, the other of the Egyptian pyramids mysteriously in blue). The CD update replicated the stickers and posters inside the jewel case but it wasn't quite the same. Somehow, trying to stick a shrunken to size picture of Pink Floyd and the pyramids on a bedroom wall was plain silly. Also, unlike with vinyl, on the reverse side of the pictures could be found the lyrics, making it a not too difficult decision as to whether the mini-posters should go anywhere, other than back in their case.
Even after several years, this album still sounds as if it had been recorded only last week, with recent polls suggesting it will remain a firm favourite with rock fans.
Having cemented their new style and sound on their 1971 album 'Meddle', Pink Floyd spent most of the 70s unleashing their creativity in a series of very finely crafted progressive rock albums with DSOTM perhaps their finest offering.
Album opener 'Breathe' starts with an ultrasound recording of a baby's heartbeat, and introduces the spacey, aural landscape that defines the album's mood throughout. All tracks segue seamlessly into each other, arguably better than any album before or since 'Sgt. Pepper', apart from a natural break between sides one and two of the original vinyl release. The subtler, darker tones come through more strongly than on 'Echoes', a kind of 'conceptual continuity' to lift a phrase from Frank Zappa. The subject matter of the album is dominated by the ubiquitous, everyday issues that pervade all of human life; birth, time, war, money, greed, feuding, and the almost inevitable descent into madness that all these things can ultimately cause. A grand, ambitious vision, you may say with a raised eybrow, but it works remarkably well. Roger Waters' writing, and here perhaps more than anywhere else his ability to condense his thoughts on the subject at hand are wonderfully concise and hitting. 'The lines on the map moved from side to side', observes Waters on 'Us and Them', as he makes his feelings on the elitism within warfare known, the generals toying with the lives of 'ordinary men'.
It's very difficult to pick out any standalone tracks from this album, as it really is best enjoyed when listened to in its full. 'Time', 'Us and Them', 'The Great Gig in the Sky' are all well crafted in their own way (though the cacophony of clock chimes at the beginning of 'Time' is a bit annoying), they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. 'Money' is a thumping rock song, driven by Water's bass line and featuring a class solo from Gilmour. It's also quite the self-fulfilling prophesy, not that they knew it at the time, as their acrimonious split stemmed in part from squabbles over the division of song-writing royalties.
The musicianship throughout is of the high standards Pink Floyd had set themselves. Rick Wright's keyboards and sound effects create a surging, almost serene texture. David Gilmour's guitar work is stratospheric, and guest soul vocalist Claire Torry fits in perfectly as a fifth member, using her impressive range as an intrument in its own right. Were this an intsrumental album, it would make for a very relaxing listen, but Water's lyrics always inject a sense of unease. Perhaps this is where the album's success really lies; I doubt there are many humans on the planet who could not relate to its universal themes. It would go some way to explaining its mammoth, multi-million sales and status as best-selling rock album. It's also a statistical certainty that with so many copies sold, it is always being played somewhere on the planet. Soundtrack to the world, perhaps...
I always got the impression that their message on this record was that below the surface of not only the sounds of the album, but beneath the veneer of everyday life, there is something that is not quite right. It seems as though Waters is quietly voicing a warning to the listeners; injustice and danger lurk where you may not suspect, and civilisation may not be what it appears to be. Be careful about being human...
There are numerous issues of this album available. For a truly magnificent experience, there is a remastered 5.1 surround sound CD issue. If you've got the stereo system to handle it, go for it! The vinyl copy, if you can find a complete one, is also a great addition to a record collection, as you get the nice, large iconic artwork, plus several posters and a deeper, bassier mastering.
I suppose the key word to use for this 1973 album is 'progressive' rather than any other description. Prior to the album's release, the entire length had been performed as a mammoth stage performance, provoking largely positive reviews. It then took a year or so before the resultant effect turned itself into one of the most commercially successful albums of all time. With varying degrees of speed and lyrical involvement, and a heavy level of innovative synthesiser sounds, the album is beautifully constructed and follows a theme of 'things that make people go mad'.
The first thing I noticed about the album is the patience the first track (a dual track, really) demands from the listener. Taking a full 30 seconds to build up to an audible sequence, Speak To Me/Breathe has an instrumental intro that softens into the soothing vocals by the time its second half announces itself. I instantly found myself relaxed, and therefore open to musical suggestion. The fact that this was essentially 2 tracks, and merges into 1, isn't unique about the album. There are tracks that run into other ones throughout the album, and flowing from one to another gives a sense of relaxation and assumes a certain level of trust.
We move from the minimal vocals on Breathe straight to the instrumental On The Run, which does what it says on the tin, frantic and fast sounds making it sound like you're on the run and the pressure is building. Keeping in with the 'madness' theme of the album, the fourth track, Time, also has elements that I can associate with in being annoyed or a feeling of going mad: that of alarm clocks starting off straight away. Perhaps a moment to mention that the theme was a concept suggested by band member Roger Waters, and seems to make suggestions to former band member Syd Barret who had left a few years previously, following mental health issues. The album has mentions of madness throughout it, and Time certainly does seem to pinpoint the whole feeling.
However, it's the powerful backing vocals and saxophone of Us And Them that I found the most memorable part of the album. The lead vocals are soothing and gentle, a trademark of the kitsch band's general vocals. The use of strong choirs to provide the backing vocals almost admits the need for something a little less depressing and morose, and I think this is a good thing. I probably wouldn't hold this in such high regard had these elements not been present, and when the lead vocals and the choir backing combine towards the end of the 7 minute long Us And Them, it's a powerfully moment indeed.
But what does it all sound like? Well, the use of synthesised music in the 1970s wasn't a common thing, by any means, and with experimental styles coming from the more commercially mainstream bands such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and the heavier rocky styles being controlled by a series of heavier bands and again the commercial side of something like the Rolling Stones, synth was a bit of a new concept. Pink Floyd dabbled here, very much so, but without completely giving up to it. Any Colour You Like is a very psychdelic and multicoloured (an aptly named track if I ever heard one). It's followed up by a very thoughtful and relaxed track, Brain Damage, with focus on electric guitar sounds (without going overboard) and soft vocals, once more. And of course, they couldn't resist the choir vocals for backing effect again, quoting the title of the album within the lyrics.
The album produced two singles, the aforementioned Us And Them, as well as Money. I found this second track made me look at the rest of the album in terms of the whole point of it, and what it was trying to do, and I find that you can draw your own opinions from what they suggest. There are suggestions of what can make you go mad, but it's not just that, it what can make you mad as in angry, as well, and Money highlights this, for me. The ringing tills and the almost angry approach to the song are really exaggerated here, and it's a great follow up to the penultimate song I'll mention from the album: The Great Gig In The Sky. This track I could listen to all day, if not purely for the fabulous vocal performance of Clare Torry throughout it. Her voice stays in your mind way after she has finished singing, and I found it ultimately powerful and haunting, even though there are no obvious words coming from her, merely sounds like 'woah' and 'yeah' if indeed these were the words that she was uttering. Very very powerful track.
And then the final track does what I had hoped it would: bring everything together. Lyrically, it mentions the whole madness aspect, talks about The Dark Side Of The Moon, has a little maniacal laughter, and combines the band's soothing vocals with the powerhouse of Torry's vocal chords and the choir and an instrumental crescendo, before giving over the final 20 or 30 seconds of the album to a fading sound before complete silence speaks volumes about what you've just listened to.
The album artwork is instantly recognisable, and I knew it for what it was long before I actually ever listened to the album. The notion of the Prism effect, and how what goes in one way doesn't necessarily come out the other side the same, is a well explored one, and very well summed up here, with a rainbow effect on exiting despite being tight and together to start with. Less is more with this design, and does its job as being instantly recognisable.
1 Speak To Me
3 On The Run
5 Great Gig In The Sky
7 Us And Them
8 Any Colour You Like
9 Brain Damage
My track list here shows the first track as two separate tunes. This ultimately depends on which track listing you follow, and although they flowed without noticeable change from one into the other, they were two very contrasting themes and so I chose this listing. The album is a very powerful one, and lovely to listen to on a quiet afternoon while relaxing and doing absolutely nothing else. It's a message to us to say that there are things that may bug us, and at times we may feel we are going mad, but to hang on in there, and to enjoy what you can. The vocals are either soothing (the band) or in crescendo (the choir) or emotionally powerful (Clare Torry) and the whole experience was very moving. I didn't like every single track on there, but as a construction piece of an album, I was very impressed, and it gets a big thumbs up from me. Recommended.
Much has been said about Pink Floyd's seminal album Dark Side Of The Moon, and in fact, it does deserve the hype: it is one of the greatest albums ever made, with an aggressively unique sound. Here's a track-by-track rundown:
Speak to Me/Breathe = depending on which version you have, these are either two separate tracks or fade into one another. Speak to Me starts very slowly, building up atmospherically into a melodic, contemplative guitar section, followed by the band's signature soothing vocals. A great song.
On the Run = in an album full of favourites, it's a bit passe to say that this is one of my favourites, but it is! It's an absolutely trippy track that has a hypnotic, psychedelic quality to it.
Time = a very long track that begins with numerous alarm clocks going off, it eventually segues into a superbly funky tune about how time is always marching on. A classic song and absolutely one of Floyd's best.
The Great Gig in the Sky = probably the most un-Floyd like song on the album, this one has a choir chorus most bemusingly, but has a very epic feel and is a welcome track even if it's not a favourite of mine.
Money = probably one of the most famous Floyd songs, has a very memorable bass line and the noise of cash registers clicking open. One of my favourites definitely.
Us and Them = a meditative song that is quite long but also very soothing and has brilliant vocals and guitar work, as well as an excellent chorus that gets a bit more lively and also has an epic feel to it.
Any Colour You Like = another amazingly trippy song, I could imagine this playing during the hidden extra missions on the Sonic games that you unlock if you go a whole level without dying; it sounds just like that kind of thing.
Brain Damage = a superb guitar riff opens this song as it discusses "the lunatic", who is long thought to be late former band member Syd Barrett. Very memorable vocals make this yet another brilliant song.
Eclipse = probably my favourite song on the album despite its short length, although very few people ever seem to talk about this one. It mentions how everything we hold dear is in fact a mere minutia in the context of the world. A great song.
This has earned its place as a cultural landmark and is simply one of the best albums ever.
In 1973 I heard my very first Pink Floyd track and loved it immediately. I rushed out to the shops to buy it - and for the next few weeks drove the neighbours mad by blasting it out time and time again on the single speaker of my portable record player.
"Washing machine music" said my mother with contempt - "Why don't you play that nice Carpenters record instead?"....
After a particularly angry mother-teenage daughter encounter, she did the worst thing possible - she took my record and broke it in half! Did I care? No! It gave me the perfect excuse to go out and buy another copy - and get duplicates of the posters and stickers that covered my wall! The most exciting about buying the Dark Side of the Moon LP was the stuff that came with it - a huge poster of the band, with a mysterious and deeply arty poster of the Great Pyramids, and loads of pyramid stickers. And of course I had a second copy of the LP sleeve with its now famous black prism design to put up on my wall too.
Since then my loyalty to The Floyd has not wavered. I bought the LP yet again as my second copy became scratched, of course I bought Dark Side on cd when it came out, and I have seen them live quite a few times over the years - even sitting through the rather painful G8 renuinion gig.
Now, well over 30 years later, things have come full circle. Instead of my mother saying "washing machine music", I have my teenage sons - groaning as I blast it out on the i-pod speakers. "Your music is so weird mum! What on earth do you see in it?".
I guess the Floyd is a bit like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it!
Dark Side of the Moon was the sixth album released by Pink Floyd, the first of their albums to hit number 1 on the US charts, and one of the best selling albums of all time. It spent an incredible eleven consecutive years in the top 100. The lyrics of the album were written by Roger Waters - and the theme of the album is often said to be 'things that can make you mad' - inspired by the mental decline of one of the band's founding members, Syd Barrett.
For me, the whole album is the definition of Prog Rock. Dark and conceptual, it covers issues of war, greed, aging and mental illness - and is riddled with sound effects, dialogue, rich, jazzy saxophone, and the soaring vocals of Clare Torry - a female backing singer who gave 'Great Gig in the Sky 'its powerful dramatic flavour.
In addition to the sound effects of mad laughter, the sound of heartbeats, coins falling, and tills opening, there are snippets of voices both between and over the music. Some of the most familiar may be "I'm not frightened of dying", "give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock" , and there is no dark side of the Moon really ... as a matter of fact it's all dark". These voice-overs give the whole album its' surreal and distinctive feel, and were recorded by Waters in a darkened studio, where he got both staff and occupants to answer a series of questions printed on flashcards. Their answers, as recorded at that time, were interwoven with the music.
The album was recorded in the Abbey Road studios, and the line up of the band was Dave Gilmour on lead vocals, and guitar, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass guitar, and vocals, and Richard Wright on keyboard and vocals.
All of the band was involved with synthesizer, production and effects. The huge use of synthesizers was a key part of the sound of the album - giving it a completely unique feel.
Beginning and ending with a fading heartbeat, there were originally five tracks on each side of the album. The tracks symbolise the various stages of human life - telling a story in the great prog rock tradition.
I originally wrote a review of every single track, but have since removed my comments, as my word count was running into the thousands!
I will just say, listen out for the exquisite guitar of Dave Gilmour, especially in track 2 - listen for the fantastic sax in track 7 - and love it or hate it - watch out for the melancholy vocals of Clare Torry in track 5.
Find your own meaning in the lyrics - I think they speak to everyone in a different way, and they have just as much meaning for me now as they did when I was a teenage rebel!
1. Speak to Me
3. On the Run
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
7. Us and Them
8. Any Colour you Like
9. Brain Damage
I love early Pink Floyd, in particular albums including Syd Barrett but by the early 70s there's a definite change in the band's music from psychedelic rock in to self-indulgent prog-rock, I personally put this down to David Gilmour's influence whose voice I've always found a bit ponsy, although the amount of "innovative ideas" such as tape loops and which really only make them one of a handful of bands that actually had some commercial success using such techniques.
It has to be said that I don't do minimalist really and I'm not a big fan of electronic music, so that's two reasons for my dislike for this album. "Money" which I'm aware is about as poppy as the band ever got apart from The Wall is about the only song on this album that I would put in my "I really like" category.
The thing that I really dislike about this album are the female backing vocals, I'm aware that they use four different woman but they all sound relatively similar and go for a choir version of a croaky Joplin sound that completely destroys the majority of things the album actually has to offer. It's always good to see bands experimenting, the album cover is a classic and I've made some money selling the special edition versions of these albums abroad - so it's not all bad! For me, it's yet another concept album that fails to impress and if I wanted progressive complicated music from 1973, I'd be more happier with Billy Cobham's "Spectrum".
1 Speak To Me
3 On The Run
5 Great Gig In The Sky
7 Us And Them
8 Any Colour You Like
9 Brain Damage
The sad recent departure of Floyd keyboard player Rick Wright has pretty much blown any chance of more reunions, but his music lives on. What can be said about this album that hasn't already been said? It's lush textures, beautiful melodies but stark message continue to enthral and seduce all ages, from wizzened hippies who were there with Syd at the start (man), to teenage stoners downloading it off the intersurf onto their epods. Rick Wright's contribution cannot be understated on this album: The Great Gig in the Sky is a magnificent composition, haunting and powerful with a soaring spontaneous vocal by Claire Tory. While Roger Water's concepts may be slightly grating on later Floyd records, this album is 4 friends working at the peak of their creative powers and producing a seminal work that has stood the test of time. As we view Beethovens 5th now, so will future generations view Dark Side of the Moon.
One of my all time favourite albums, it's even ready on the ipod for when I go into labour!! I can't remember the first time I heard it but I know it had nothing to do with my parents who can't stand it. I love the fact that all the tracks blend in to 45 minutes of pleasure. They certainly do have a very unique sound and you know it's them instantly. If someone said to choose your favourite track I couldn't as they are all fantastic. Everyone should own or at least have listened to this album.
Those were the days when they were called "albums". Brilliant then and brilliant now, and there is not a dud note in the entire work. What makes it so special? From the top: Waters' lyrics. This man has to be the foremost rock poet in the entire world. Then there's the sound of Gilmour's guitar, which has a wistful quality that makes one think of, well, whatever it is that one thinks of ... Then there's Wright, of course, who contributed perhaps the most beautiful piece of music in the world (The Great Gig in the Sky). And (let's not leave him out) Mason's more than just a drummer - it was his work on the structure and production that probably welded it into the masterpiece that it is. Practically every single one of the songs has been covered by someone or other. No folk club come-all-ye is complete without someone getting up and doing "Brain Damage". As for "Breathe", it does in fact take a different vocalist to bring out the true feeling in what's being said - take for an example the version available on Waters' "In The Flesh" live collection. Even the punk movement, for all their posing and pi-taking, borrowed heavily from the philosophy and power of the Floyd. Look out for Jaz "Killing Joke" Coleman's "Symphonic Pink Floyd" where he has orchestrated them. Unmissable. I do have an eclectic musical taste, but I can without a shadow of a doubt put The Dark Side of the Moon on a pedestal above all other albums I've heard. I came upon it as a kid (about nine) in my Father's huge prog-rock record collection. At 26, I still haven't grown weary of it and there are few, if any, other albums I can say that of. It has an unbroken, fluid structure which takes you from the opening thunderous heartbeat to the climactic finale ('Eclipse') so that you feel, at the end, like you've been transported somewhere and ba
ck again without fully realising it. Lyrically, it's a masterpiece and puts to shame many much more insular, angst-ridden albums of late (particularly Radiohead, whose OK Computer is often seen as an updated DSotM). Roger Waters' sights are not set on his own problems, but potentially all of our's: madness, wealth and the lack of it, social exclusion and - the big one - death. But, most of all, there are some great old-fashioned rock melodies - particularly 'Time' and 'Us and Them'. Best listened to alone (my girlfriend hates it!) because the lyrics can sometimes seem to be addressing you personally - I can't talk about this album with anyone else simply because it means different things to different people. Essential listening, this is probably the Floyd's magnum opus Many Thanx.
In a recent magazine i read there was a poll for the top twenty albums of all time. I know there are a lot of these things, channel 4 seems to have a monopoly (good game, see the review) on 'the top ten greatest tv personalities who's careers have gone into free fall and need a bit of money' ever. But this particular one upset me more than most. In this poll Radiohead came in at number 2! The second best album ever written! i know.. i couldnt believe it either. (ok computer? Radiohead? my opinion? mind numbing, spirit crushing, moaning pretentious garbage). Apart from me not agreeing with their number 2, Pink floyds ground breaking pyschedelic journey into the pitfalls of modern man, 'DARK SIDE OF THE MOON' DID NOT FEATURE. unbelievable. Its worse than craig david being commited to vinyl, (he should be committed somewhere!). I often hear complaints about the state of british music. Is anyone surprised when the kids of today are made to believe that ok computer is the second best album EVER, and truly great albums dont matter? Hey Kids, dont get patronised, get this album, get this album, get this album, get this album. For the adults amongst us, it is no secret that the dark side is basically the story of one mans (or is it the whole of pink floyd?) plight into insanity (who probably ended up listening to radiohead and contemplating suicide). It starts off inocently enough with the sublime 'speak to me' but steadily cascades through tthe emotions. 'Breathe' sees the first signs of the turning tide. 'run rabbit run 'dig that hole, forget the sun 'and when at last the work is done 'dont sit down its time to start another one. repetition, repetition, repetition is the key. Break out of it. 9-5 day to day, week to week, year to year, die. After 'on the run' (the title speaks for itself) comes 'time', perhaps one of the gre
atest rock songs ever. The words are perfect, the guitars are perfect and the all important solo is perfect. Its an english tale of desperation, of an uncatchable dream. 'wishing away the moments that make up a dull day' 'hanging on in quiet desperation is the english way' Getting old is inevitable. (for a laugh play the alarm bells that introduce the song really loud, really early in the morning to a hungover friend, they will appreciate it). 'Money' is probably a self, almost mocking analysis of Floyd at the time. 'dont give me that do goody good bullsh** 'im in the high fidelity first class travvelling set 'and i think i need a lear jet. dont we all? Again, perfection. The song is acompanied by a cash register that pings open and closed along with the track, a bit like the 'wonderstuff' song of the same name. Next comes the almost opera like 'us and them'. From the high octive, echoing start to the climatic end, a jem in every sense of the word. It tells of Paranoia better than any any shrink ever could. He had the time, he had the money, he had the fame. Then the paranoia set in and the dark side of the moon was complete, with the aptly named 'brain damage' 'you lock the door 'and throw away the key 'there someone inside my head 'but its not me. In my top twenty, in YOUR top twenty, you should definately have this album, i think even Radiohead themselves would agree. Alternatively: a momentary lapse of reason
I. DSOTM -- INTRODUCTION & HISTORY & BACKGROUND: A. Rock's Lunar Cycles: As in life itself, Rock & Roll's ongoing popularity and survival is due to its cyclical nature; it's perpetual metamorphosis. Nowhere is this theme more evident and poignantly conveyed than in Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon." DSOTM arrived at; was a product of, the gloomy period in rock history that followed the death of that musical era's "big three;" Jim, Janice and Jimi, at the end of the1960's. Just as the deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper & Richie Valens at the end of the 1950's were for many, "the day the music died," this second "trinitarian cataclysm" was in actuality, the harbinger of Rock's second "dark side of the moon" cyclical phase. B. The Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon Lunar Phase: On a microcosmic level, Pink Floyd itself had been forced to face its own dark, "New Moon" phase and potential mortality after booting Syd Barrett and taking on David Gilmour in 1968. Syd, who had been the heart and soul of the early ethereal, psychedelic PF, had become their dysfunctional waning moon due to latent insanity triggered by the pressures of success. Though many believe Barrett's rapid deterioration resulted from profligate use of acid, Pink Floyd's DSOTM is a persuasively articulated musical declaration by Roger Waters that some individuals can attain literary greatness despite "handicapping" the creative process with a heavy and regular consumption of recreational drugs. II. DSOTM -- UNDERSTANDING ROCK'S QUINTESSENTIAL "CONCEPT ALBUM:" A. A Conceptual Musical Analysis: Critics and fans generally agree that Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" is the quintessential progressive rock "concept album" of the 1970's. A concept or "theme album" is simply an a
lbum whose musical tracks are linked together by a concept or theme. In some cases, as here, the concept is represented by a symbol that incorporates the salient characteristics and recurrent themes common to the album's component songs, and unify them into a cohesive whole. For this reason, the concept album format lends itself to the writing of a review that addresses the album's various tracks by analyzing and discussing the thematic elements common to all of them. It is in this manner the following review approaches its analysis of the music of DSOTM. B. A Heavenly Compositional Body Though the album is both a tour de force of Pink Floyd's musical range and technical virtuosity, and Waters' peerless genius for writing profoundly evocative, yet unforced lyrical metaphors; it is the album's bold choice of an epic subject matter, the tragedy of the human condition, which propels this composition from being merely one of the greater magnitude stars twinkling brightly in the heavenly body of musical creativity from which the 1970's music constellation is formed, but rather an independent constellation in and of its own right, a watershed from whose magnitude of creative brightness the 1970's musical legacy gains definition, measure and literary validation. C. Lunar Symbolism Based on the content and mood of the album taken as a whole, the metaphorically suggestive title, "Dark Side of the Moon," traces the album's literary roots to the dark, creatively fertile soil previously tilled and cultivated by the French Symbolists, whose defining poetic trait was to employ common, physical objects and forms as symbols for purposes of communicating abstract ideas and ephemeral concepts, but in a visceral, more sensual manner. By creating a literary bridge over the previously untraversed gap separating mental experience from physical sensation, the Symbolists, in effect, made "a word worth a t
housand pictures." Therein lies the secret of the evocative intensity of Waters' lyrics throughout the album, and specifically underscored in the brooding romanticism of its gloomy title. Waters effectively employs an archetypal symbol; the moon, to evoke emotion on multiple psychic levels. On a more obvious level, Waters draws on the physical qualities we commonly associate with the Moon. Specifically, Waters' moon is at once silent, melancholy, lonely, desolate and perhaps beautiful, but in a somber way. It is the only bright object in an otherwise pervasive tapestry of musical darkness. At first, his moon appears to affirm life by openly defying the fatal, all-consuming night with its rebellious, life-suggestive moonlight. This defiant contrast of the moonlight against darkness lends the moon a Promethean aura of stoic strength; stubborn independence. D. A Trick Of The Moonlight On a deeper level, we are forced to acknowledge that the moon doesn't generate its own light; it merely reflects the light of the sun, which for all its light source, is consumed by the darkness. Further, the moon is a slave to its orbit around the earth, which means that, though temporarily luminous, it will inevitably, on its new moon or "dark side of the moon" phase, leave the night sky utterly dark and devoid of life and, more ominously, the hope for life. The life/hope-affirming qualities; the stubborn defiance, the resolute independence, the cyclical regularity and consistency of degree of travel, all merely a mockery of life's transient nature, an illusion calculated to raise our hopes just high enough to allow us a temporarily unobstructed view of the tragic and inescapably hopeless nature of the human condition. E. A Legacy Of Lunacy Waters ingeniously draws on another, less apparent, yet more insidious characteristic associated with the literary symbol of the moon, i.e., insanity or "lune-acy",
with which to accommodate the other theme which pervades the album's music and lyrics: the madness which either A), one requires to accommodate the folly of false hope, strength and defiance of death which is temporarily simulated by the apparent consistency of life's hypnotically and rhythmically cyclical day-to-day events, or B), results when one confronts the naked reality of the ultimately inescapable and tragic hopelessness of the human condition. Since madness options "A" and "B" are the only apparent alternatives available, one may logically extrapolate that one is at all times, either insane or dead. The disillusioned Waters, who reluctantly ascended to the position of Pink Floyd's artistic "new moon" in the shadowy songwriting and leadership void that remained in the wake of schizophrenia's rapid dousing of Barrett's creative luminescence, no doubt also considered himself a potential heir to the pressure-induced fate that devoured his predecessor's sanity. III. DSOTM -- MUSIC TRACKS A. The Musically Expressed Complementarity Of The Inevitability Of Mortality Set Off Against The Lunacy Of Day-To-Day Existence: --The following are DSOTM's 9 tracks: Tracks: 1a. Speak To Me || 1b. Breathe In The Air 2. On The Run 3. Time 4. The Great Gig In The Sky 5. Money 6. Us And Them 7. Any Colour You Like 8. Brain Damage 9. Eclipse From the album's opening track, "Speak To Me's" dramatic lead-in; an adumbrating cacophony of mechanical, "daily-noise" sounds which iterates into a rising crescendo of hebephrenic laughter (i.e., insane laughter in response to inappropriate stimuli common to hebephrenic schizophrenia,) before erupting into a series of brain-bursting, screams of helpless madness, to the final, despondent, deliberately repetitious chorus and lilting heart-beat fade-out of "Eclipse,&qu
ot; the musical composition and lyrics of the album's nine tracks deal either with madness or death, or the inextricable interaction of the two on human perception. B. The Inevitability Of Mortality DSOTM's portentous repetition of its various compositional elements in each of its songs is the album's signetary motif. Waters masterfully plies the methodical sweeps of his musical paintbrush to broadstroke-in his hypnotically-lilting bass riffs and subliminal chord shifts, his songs' mundanely cyclical, "day-to-day life process"-related subject matter, ambient, looping choruses, recurrent death & madness themes and drummer Nick Mason's pulsating, metronomic heart-beat, cash register, clock-tick and footstep sound effects, onto the nine track-segments of an auditory canvas that has neither a beginning or end, but merely fades into and back out of the listener's consciousness like a lingering apprehension. Waters cleverly uses this motif, not only to provide the individual, song-related subjects a distinctive unifying and harmonizing common thread, but more significantly, a common thread that subtley and rather ingeniously enables the "underlying" background themes, (i.e., the madness-inducing futility of the human condition and the illusory moonbeams of security and permanence conferred by the hypnotic regularity of life's cyclical processes,) to dominate and thereby ridicule and trivialize the importance of the seemingly consequential subjects (i.e., "money," "success," "materialism," etc.,) on which each of the songs focus. C. The Lunacy Of Day-To-Day Existence The subdued steadiness, yet pervasive rhythmic resonance of Waters' hypnotic bass is set off by Richard Wright's improvisational, jazzy/space-y keyboards, which combine with lead guitarist David Gilmour's trademark "slide and echo guitar style" to weave eerie, h
alf-improv/ half-chord cobwebs of melancholia that almost sting you with the ethereal sweetness and beauty of the hopelessness and isolation they convey. The desolate peals of "slide whistle"-like eerie, mournfulness sound like a combination of the strident, yet muted metallic underwater-echo of communicating whales morphed into the distant wail of a grief-stricken spirit's siren-song. The effect is most noticeable in "Breathe," "Us And Them" and "Braindamaged," where it musically "doubles" the alienation and helplessness conveyed by the lyrics. IV. CONCLUSION DSOTM is not merely an excellent progressive-rock composition; it's a musical standard-bearer by which all others of it's type are measured. The timelessness of its tragic themes insure its future relevance and popularity for decades to come. The proficiency and artistic acumen with which DSOTM addresses and modernizes its chosen theme: "the tragic futility of the human condition," makes this album to its artistic medium (i.e., music), what Shakespeare's treatment of madness and death in "Hamlet" is to its respective medium. Considering the inescapable reality of the tragic themes symbolically represented in DSOTM by the moon in the final phase of its lunar cycle, and following its implications through to their logical progressions and inevitable conclusions, perhaps it is more miraculous that other attainees of literary greatness have been able to do so ~without~ enhancing the creative process with the regular and heavy consumption of recreational drugs. Thank You For Reading, The 29th_Candidate
If there is one album you had to chose to represent what 70’s rock was all about (up to Punk at least) ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (DSOTM) would be that album. It propelled Pink Floyd from popular art-house kings of English psychedelia to be one the best known and most successful rock bands in the world. BACKGROUND (or Psychedelia, drugs and a bloke called Syd) Pink Floyd had been one of the major influences of the drug inspired Psychedelic rock of the late 60’s under the guidance of slightly unhinged but enormously talented Syd Barrett. With the album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ and their extraordinary live shows that used film projections and light effects at key underground venues, like the UFO club in London, Pink Floyd had become one of the most innovative and critically acclaimed British bands. Just as the band was expanding it’s fan base Barrett’s increasing use of LSD finally caught up with him, becoming more withdrawn and increasingly unreliable he was sacked from the band in April 1968. David Gilmour who had been brought in to cover for Barrett in some live shows then became a fulltime member. The loss of Barrett was a big blow for the band but they managed to recover and with Roger Waters gradually becoming the main song writer Pink Floyd did have success with their next few albums ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ (Barrett appears on 3 of the 7 tracks) ‘More’ and ‘Ummagumma’. None of these or later releases ‘Atom Heart Mother’, ‘Meddle’ or ‘Obscured by Clouds’ managed to break the band on to the wider international stage. But the music scene was changing the hippie summer of love was quickly fading and the music world was still suffering a post-Woodstock hangover. The time was right for a band to seize the initiative. THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC DSOTM was released in March 1973 but was in fact recorded
in the summer of 1972. This was a time of great technological leaps in the music industry. The recording made use of the new 16-track equipment at the Abbey Road studios and used the new Dolby sound reduction system. Even before it was released there was internal wrangling as to how the final record should sound. The record company EMI wanted to do a quadraphonic mix but the band objected. In the end the EMI hired Alan Parsons then a humble engineer to carry out the mix without the permission of the band. The band retaliated by not attending the launch of the record at the London Planetarium and cardboard cutouts of the band members were displayed instead. The band had written and toured the album before recording it under the name ‘Eclipse’, and this allowed a more polished product to finally be brought back to the studio for Waters and Gilmour to argue over. The artistic conflict between Waters and Gilmour finally led the record company to bring in Chris Thomas (who went on to produce the Sex Pistols) to act as arbitrator between the two. The most noticeable thing about DSOTM is the new musical direction the band takes. The hippy optimism had gone and with the downbeat lyrics of Waters a new darker more despairing tone had taken over. ‘Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…’ ‘Shorter of breath one day closer to death’ (Time) This cynical view of the world and close examination of the potential insanity in everyday life (possibly a reference to Barrett’s mental illness) was finely matched by Gilmour’s inspired instrumentals and gave the songs a cohesiveness and depth that had been lacking in earlier more ethereal work. The record is now regarded as a prime example of the progressive rock concept album and while it is true that strong themes run through all the songs; the inevitable passing of time, aging, the pointlessness of materialism and mental
instability, the album was not completely written as one single project. ‘Us and Them’ had been a single track and was going to be used as the part of the soundtrack to a TV documentary about student demo violence. The song was to accompany slowed down images of Policemen charging and beating protesters in the street. For some reason the track was never used and instead found its way on to the album where it matches the mood and tone of the rest of the songs. In contrast to many other concept albums many of the tracks can be heard independently of the rest Time, Brain Damage, Money and Us and Them are all self-contained musical compositions. Money was even released as a single in the US reaching no13 in the billboard charts The record has a number of highly distinctive features the track ‘On the Run’ represents some early experimentation with the use of the VCS3 synthesizer. There is also extensive use of sound effects integrated in to the music, the clock chimes and alarms at the beginning of the track ‘Time’, the cash register on ‘Money’. The songs are linked by the use of fragments of speech (recorded by asking questions of the recording studio doorman) in themselves unrelated to the tracks but in a surreal way perfectly binding together the disparate elements of the album. The surreal aspects of the album, the subject matter and the audio effects all lend themselves to a drug induced appreciation of the music but in contrast to their earlier work this album is not simply for the LSD popping, pot smoking generation it reached a far wider audience and really put the concept album and progressive rock back into the mainstream (not all good considering the other Prog. Rock self-indulgent offerings that subsequently appeared by other bands such as Yes, Hawkwind and Emerson Lake and Palmer!) If nothing else the release and success of DSOTM advanced the standards of studio record pr
oductions just like the Beatles’ Revolver and Sgt Pepper had done in the 60’s. AFTERMATH DSOTM is 30 years old and it that time it has sold over 25million copies making it one of the best selling albums ever. It doesn’t seem to age, which is a testament to the great care and artistry which the band employed in recording it. With the advent of CD technology the albums sales increased once again (20% of total sales are post CD release), many people considering the album a benchmark to test early CD sound technology and quality by, and again in recent years with the re forming of Pink Floyd by Gilmour and Nick Mason the album has continued to sell up to the present day. It still sounds good today! In retrospect I think that DSOTM represent the pinnacle of Pink Floyd’s output. I believe that the ‘rot’ set in at this time. The following releases ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Animals’ are excellent records but gradually even in these Waters stranglehold on the groups artistic output was beginning to affect the music for the worse. This finally led to the group’s musical demise which in my opinion became apparent with the release of ‘The Wall’. There are few records that can really claim to be indispensable to any record collection but DSOTM is definitely one of them. SOME DETAILS Tracks: 1.Speak To Me/Breathe 2. On The Run 3. Time 4. The Great Gig In The Sky 5. Money 6. Us And Them 7. Any Colour You Like 8. Brain Damage 9. Eclipse Record Company: Harvest Records Cat Number: SHVL 804 Release Date: March 24, 1973 Original vinyl edition Included the blue pyramid poster, a six-panelled group shot poster and two separate Pink Floyd self-adhesive stickers. A CD version was released in March 1983 and a CD re-mastered version was released in 1993 by Capitol records. Thanks
for reading and rating this opinion © Mauri 2002
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Speak To Me
3 On The Run
5 Great Gig In The Sky
7 Us And Them
8 Any Colour You Like
9 Brain Damage