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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 | 3046 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
5 stars You know what I selfishly wish? I wish that Dark Side of the Moon wasn't such a popular album. I wish I didn't have to think, "Yeah, "Time" is good, and "Breathe" is good, and "Money" is good, but they're not that much better than *so and so track*" all the time. If I didn't have to think about how this completely overshadows most of the rest of the Pink Floyd catalogue in popularity, when the quality of the music certainly doesn't completely overshadow the rest of their catalogue, it would be easier for me to just appreciate this album for what it is: one of the greatest freaking albums I've ever heard in my life, and (by the smallest margin) my favorite Pink Floyd album. It's not perfect, but it's as close to it as the band ever got.

If I had to sum up in one word what this album has that the preceding ones didn't, and what prompted the leap from "very good" to "awesome," that word would be focus. This album isn't that different from what had come before in terms of raw materials, but the use of those materials is much more effective here than it was before (and before it was awfully nice). The group was still a fully functioning band in terms of songwriting and everyone contributing ideas to the music itself, but in terms of lyrics and concept, the album is 100% Roger Waters. Just as important, along those lines, is the improved use of sound effects, which were used pretty effectively before but now are interwoven seamlessly with the actual music in such a way as to perfectly drive home the mood and message Roger presents here. Honorable mention should also be made towards Alan Parsons, the producer of this album, who not only made all the instruments sound perfect and clear but also deserves credit for making all of the sound effects and vocal samples work so smoothly with what the band was playing. Basically, this is close to being the perfect audiophile album, and that's certainly a major reason it gets as much credit as it does.

Conceptually, this is Waters' treatise about madness and the various aspects of life that exacerbate it. It's about how there's too much work to do and no time to do it and also enjoy life; how time keeps slipping away without you really realizing it, until you and the people you care about are dying; how money and the pursuit of it make the world a worse place; how everybody is at odds with everybody else. It's a very glum outlook on life, and it's not hard to see why so many people are attracted to the concept because of that. Personally, I think it's a little overdone, and I certainly don't regard the lyrics on here as a worthy foundation for a life philosophy. I know that lots of people consider the lyrics here to be incredibly deep and insightful, but I find them a little too preachy and blunt to really work on that level. On the other hand, while the lyrics on here are hardly material for guiding one's existence, these are nonetheless excellent rock lyrics. They tap perfectly into that part of the mind that wants to think a little bit but not a lot, and a lot of the lines are awfully powerful in their preachy, banal nature (that's more of a compliment than it might appear).

The music itself is awfully nice, too. Once all of the other aspects of the album (concept, lyrics, production) are stripped away, it doesn't come close to living up to the stature of one of the best albums ever, but it's still good. One thing that's interesting is how close this album comes to being soft-rock or even smooth jazz in places, yet while the album treads dangerous ground in that regard (listen to Delicate Sound of Thunder to hear what happens to these songs when that line is crossed), it never really becomes bothersome. The melodies are all good, there's a really good bass riff in "Money," there's a lot of really pretty pedal steel guitar, a lot of pleasant piano lines, and some really moving guest performances. "Breathe" (preceded by "Speak to Me," a kind of overture of the album's sound effects) always reminds me of lying in a field on a sunny day, with a body of water not too far away, and the mix of steel guitars and Dave's mellow voice makes me understand completely why so many stoners love this album. "On the Run" (the instrumental with the doodly-doodly synth loop and a bunch of sound effects) reminds me of falling asleep in that field and having a bit of a nightmare, before the clocks at the beginning of "Time" wake me up and tell me to get working again.

The lengthy echoey drum passage (with echoey simple guitar lines and a smattering of keyboards) at the beginning of "Time" succeeds where a more complicated break might have failed (another drummer might have made it into just a drum solo, whereas Mason uses its sparseness to his advantage), and then the actual song (with a "Breathe" reprise) has solid singing from both Dave and Rick (who wouldn't sing solo on a Floyd album again for more than 20 years) and one of Dave's best guitar passages. And then, of course, we have "The Great Gig in the Sky," which combines amazing wordless torch-singing from Clare Torry with a set of simple, yet brilliantly written, piano lines and GREAT pedal steel work (and, of course, more vocal samples about people's feelings towards death).

Moving onto side two, we have "Money," which might be the best known song from the group (it's either that or "Another Brick in the Wall (2)"), and while it wouldn't make my top ten from the group it's still a nice number. There's the good 7/4 riff (with cash registers also chiming in 7/4), a decent vocal melody, and of course a guitar solo that doesn't sound incredibly impressive in terms of the number of notes played but is nonetheless rather rousing (it doesn't come close to meeting the "minimalist" quality standards set by somebody like Steve Hackett, though). Then it's onto the quiet, pleasant balladry of "Us and Them," featuring a Beatles-quality simple guitar line, a great mellow saxophone part and nice vocals (with Rick's voice working extremely well with Dave's). The instrumental jam "Any Colour You Like" is a little bit fillerish (I'll take the instrumentals on Obscured by Clouds over this ANY day), but it's got some nice parts, and it does a good job of leading into the last two tracks. Waters finally makes his grand vocal entrance with "Brain Damage," a fun piece about going insane (with more sound effects like crazy laughter in all the right spots) and with allusions to Syd's last days with the band, before breaking into the big finale of "Eclipse," with some fun, important sounding lyrics that wrap things up with another allusion to the name of the album.

And that's the best Pink Floyd album. I'll never consider it as 100% perfect, what with my issues with the lyrics and concept and the way it's not that huge an improvement over the preceding albums from a pure music standpoint, but it's still an absolute masterpiece. If you somehow don't have this album, you should really correct that soon.

PS: Somehow, I've never bothered to do the synchronicity with The Wizard of Oz. Weird.

tarkus1980 | 5/5 |

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