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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 | 2954 ratings

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Fitzcarraldo
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Unless you've been in a coma or living a hermit's existence on some mountain in Outer Mongolia for the last 32 years, it's almost certain that you have already heard some or all of the music on "Dark Side Of The Moon". What more can be said about an album that spent 11 consecutive years in the Billboard Top 200 and has sold tens of millions of copies since its release in 1973? Well, I'll try anyway.

In my opinion "Dark Side Of The Moon" marks the pinnacle of the FLOYD's career musically; their previous albums almost seem to have been a subconscious preparation for this one. This album is where the FLOYD lost their rough edge - which I happened to like, by the way - and produced a polished, commercial oeuvre which turned them from a psychedelic avant-garde rock band, known to the longhaired youth of the 1970s (and their elder brothers and sisters of the 1960s), into worldwide superstars. In an age before the Internet, for the band to become a household name on the basis of this one album makes it all the more of an achievement. This is where the band got just about everything right - it's as if they discovered the music on this album, rather than created it. Even the album's minimalist cover has become an icon. The tinkering with the front and back covers for the re-mastered CD was unnecessary in my opinion, particularly the overkill on the new back cover: the original, simpler, back cover of the LP was superior.

The music *is* good. It's all very melodious and very professionally produced (engineered by Alan Parsons, who went on to cut a few albums of his own and make a name for himself). There is a sort of theme running through the album, which I read as the madness of the modern world: commercial and time pressures (on the band?); the Church; politics; State aggression. But I wouldn't say this is a strongly cohesive concept album in the same way as, say, LE ORME's "Felona E Sorona" or BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO's "Darwin!".

Apart from the music sounding more commercial than their previous albums, "Dark Side Of The Moon" also marked a noticeable change (at least to me) in the band's musical style, and was the last PINK FLOYD album that I found interesting and pleasing enough to own. Although I'm sure most will vehemently disagree with me, I do not like sufficiently to buy them any of the FLOYD's later albums. To me, it was downhill from hereon in.

Now, for those of you who have just emerged from your 32-year solitary confinement on that mountain in Outer Mongolia, here's a brief summary of the album's tracks, all of which flow one into the other to the extent that the album could almost be considered to be one long single track.

The introductory 'Speak To Me' is a short instrumental, starting with a heartbeat and some maniacal background talking and laughing, clocks ticking and machines clattering, leading into some dreamy guitar and organ, very much in the FLOYD's trademark twangy guitar style, to start off 'Breath'.

'Breath' is a melodic, subdued song segueing into the hyper 'On The Run', a frenetic electronic piece complete with PA announcement, pulsing synth emulating the Doppler effect as it crosses speakers, maniacal talking and laughing, culminating in what sounds like an air crash followed by sounds of panting and running, introducing...

'Time', with ticking clocks striking the hour, tick-tock beat and an existential ballad with depressing lyrics that remind me of the lyrics of 'Free Four' on "Obscured By Clouds". 'Time' has the FLOYD's trademark twangy guitar (bliss): air-guitar music par excellence, but - as is the case for all the tracks on this album - I must not fail to mention Roger Waters' solid bass holding it all together and Nick Mason's understated drumming.

Then comes 'Breath Reprise' with its calming melody and soothing yet cynical ending: "Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees, to hear the softly spoken magic spells." which in turn segues into 'The Great Gig In The Sky' with the famous improvised vocalisations of Clare Torry (my wife thinks it's just wailing but I think it's just amazing!). I love the track - particularly Wright's piano playing (which is good elsewhere on the album too). To me, Torry's vocalisations have an almost Afro-American sound, which I like very much.

Then comes 'Money', the most famous track on the album (possibly ranking amongst the most famous rock tracks of all time?). It's funky, upbeat and melodic, even if the lyrics are cynical. In my opinion the lyrics are facile and the first part of the track is not that great, but the second part has some funky sax playing by guest saxophonist Dick Parry plus some fabulous guitar work by Gilmour (get your air-guitar out again), which more than rescues the track. The superimposed chatter at the end of the track spoils it somewhat for me ("I certainly wasn't raped"; ".cruising for a bruising"; "I don't know if I was really drunk at the time", etc.): it's just superfluous in my opinion, even given the album's theme.

Then comes the calm, existential ballad 'Us And Them' with Dick Parry's mellow sax and some good backing vocals .and depressing lyrics. The short burst of superimposed chatter between the two verses again irritates me - it detracts from the music in my opinion. A bit of useless information: 'Us And Them' was originally composed in 1969 for the 1970 counterculture film Zabriskie Point, but was not used (although other PINK FLOYD music was used in that film).

The guitar and bass on the instrumental 'Any Colour You Like' are both excellent (but then the synth and drums are great too!). This is also one of my favourite tracks on the album, and segues perfectly into the song 'Brain Damage' which apparently comments on the madness of it all (life, the Universe and everything, I suppose). Such a good song and, again, good backing vocals. Given the song's title and the lyrics, the superimposed laughing and chatter in the background *are* appropriate on this track. 'Brain Damage' leads straight into the final song 'Eclipse', which also has great backing vocals. The track finishes with the heartbeat that started off the album, and a little more inane chatter (if you turn up the volume).

By the way, the guest backing vocalists on some of the tracks remind me just a little of an American gospel choir. Nice.

I was already a FLOYD fan and had most of their LPs by the time "Dark Side Of The Moon" was released. Needless to say I added it to my LP collection as soon as it was released. I can remember playing it for the first time and thinking how polished and how different it was to the FLOYD's earlier albums. I also remember wondering how on Earth they could top it. I bought the re-mastered CD some years ago, and it gets played from time to time and I still enjoy the music. Perhaps the album has suffered from overexposure, or perhaps it's just that I've changed over the years, but it no longer sounds quite so exciting to me now: I find tracks such as 'Echoes' ("Meddle") and most of "Obscured By Clouds" give me more of a thrill. It's almost as if the music on "Dark Side Of The Moon" is just a bit too polished. I sometimes wish that I were hearing this album again for the first time to see if I would feel the same way. Anyway, I feel I can criticise a little an old friend without dinting its status, and it's still unquestionably a masterpiece of rock music, let alone Progressive Rock (how many albums do you know have their own official Web site?).

Fitzcarraldo | 5/5 |

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