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Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon CD (album) cover

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.59 | 2994 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Waters was pissed.

After trying his best to deliver more direct, straightforward, and meaningful lyrics people were still calling his music "space rock" and music for stoners, the latter especially ironic since the Floyd were not druggies in those days (Gilmour and Wright admitted to occasional weed, but aside from two sixties acid trips, Roger was not into drugs. Nor was Mason. They were drinkers during this period.) He wanted to confront more human issues like death, madness, relationships, compassion, poverty, war and peace. But the Floyd would be cast as stoner party rock and it's easy (for me) to understand how this frustrated Waters to the point where he disliked doing the shows. Imagine trying to lay down a quiet piece about life and death only to have a bunch of drunks screaming "play Money, man!!!!"

I think we all tend to take DSOTM for granted because it's so familiar to us and it's always on the radio. But if you sit and pay full attention to what you're hearing it becomes obvious that this is Floyd's second masterpiece after Piper. I'm pretty reserved on what it takes to be a true "masterpiece," I don't make a habit of awarding 5 stars to albums that have been out for 15 minutes. Lyrically and musically I cannot deny Dark Side. From "Breathe" to "Time" to "Us and Them" it is just simply so easy to be seduced by this music.

Near the end of the recording Waters came up with another brilliant idea. They wrote up questions on cards and presented them to a bunch of people to get them to speak about their lives and the underlying concepts on the album. The best pieces of the interviews were laced throughout the songs to give them a very real sense of humanity. When you hear these voices, they are not the planned lyrical content of Waters but rather the off the cuff conversation of just about everyone who was present at Abbey Road on a given day: janitors, roadies, musicians, etc. One of the most memorable came from a cantankerous old janitor named Gerry O' Driscoll who was asked "Are you afraid of dying?" He replied "I am not afraid of dying. Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be afraid of dying? There's no reason for it-you've got to go sometime." When asked "Do you ever think you're going mad?" he replied "I've always been mad. I know I've been mad like most of us have. Very hard to explain why you were mad, even if you're not mad." But most famously, when cajoled by Waters to explain what the DSOTM means, the old Irishman said "There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact it's all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun." Another character Roger Manifold was speaking about fighting when he famously answered "if you give them a quick, short, sharp shock, they won't do it again. Dig it? I mean, he got off lightly 'cos I could have given him a thrashing-I only hit him once!" These conversational nuggets interject a sense of reality and authentic intimacy to the music beyond the limits of Waters' lyrical pen, an absolutely perfect way of connecting to the subject matter of the human condition.

As Chris Thomas was finishing the mixing, they still felt that "The Great Gig in the Sky" was missing something. Alan Parsons suggested having Claire Torry come in to sing over the piece. She found the band members rather dry and was pretty indifferent about the session. After negotiating her fee of about $50 bucks she tried a few runs and was not getting much from enthusiasm from Gilmour. She was about to split when she had the thought of singing "as if she were a musical instrument" and the rest is history. She claimed she didn't even realize they used her part until buying the album months later and listening to it at home. Upon retiring a few years back Ms. Torry proceeded to sue the Floyd for partial credit of the track. She won an undisclosed sum of money and a partial songwriting credit for Great Gig.

When it was complete Dave listened to the entire album and was quoted "My God, we've really done something fantastic." Roger brought a copy home for his wife: "My strongest memory of listening to it is when I played it to Judy. She listened to it all the way through, and when it was finished, she burst into tears. She was very moved by it. I thought that was a very good sign. We've definitely got something here."

All the Floyd have commented over the years that they felt things went downhill after Dark Side. Waters: "The DSOTM finished off Pink Floyd once and for all. To be that successful is the aim of very group. And once you've cracked it, it's all over." Gilmour expressed similar feelings: "After that sort of success.you hit that strange impasse where you're really not very certain of anything anymore. It's so fantastic, but at the same time you start thinking, what on earth do we do now?"

Isn't it funny that guys who think it was over with Dark Side would go on to create WYWH, Animals, and The Wall? Not bad output for lads who considered things over!

The excellent book by John Harris focuses specifically on the making of this album and what led up to it. While I did not copy John's text in this review, I did use it as the resource for the stories in this review and for quotations of what the band members said. So I credit John for assembling this great information and thank him for informing this review. Please look for his book: "The Dark Side of the Moon: The Making of the Pink Floyd Masterpiece" by John Harris.

And so.....Dark Side of the Moon is the definition of an album deserving 5 stars. It was a grand achievement all those decades ago and more importantly, it remains incredibly poignant to this day. When you look at the bands on this site and ask yourself how many will be remembered or cared about 100 years on, my guess is that the Floyd doesn't need to worry about being challenged in the legacy department.

I see a few folks give this two stars and complain that it's over-rated and simplistic. I can't entirely disagree with some of those sentiments but keep in mind two things. First, progressive music doesn't necessarily *have* to be ultra-complex, sometimes simple slow chord progressions are perfect for the material. Second, the accessibility of DS is what drew so many people in over the years and opened their eyes to progressive music and other bands-not exactly a bad thing, is it?

Finnforest | 5/5 |

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