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


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.60 | 4196 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars "A short sharp shock" to prog rock. Review #763 - 1097 words

Inspired by the mental collapse of Syd Barrett and often cited as the greatest album of all time, DSOTM is a bonafide masterpiece that has been more influential to prog than perhaps any other album of the 70s. The music is a soundscape of soaring mellotron, awesome lead guitar and pulsating bass and percussion. It's the ultimate prog album and has managed to transcend music itself with its heavy concept of time, money, death, renewal, and descent into madness.

"Speak To Me" begins with the heartbeat and vulgar phrase of madness and it builds to a crescendo of a screaming lunatic that finally releases into a wash of sliding keyboards and clean guitar strums. All this in the space of a couple of minutes. We hear the clock ticking as if life is slowly ebbing away, or it may be the mind becoming bereft of sanity, lapsing to madness. Bleak concepts, but the album has an optimistic, uplifting ambience throughout.

"Breathe" is a gem that packs beauty and life into the soundstream. The lyrics focus on the pointless frustration of pursuing goals but then missing out on appreciating abundant life to the full.

"On the Run" is the techno-machination sound of industry and manic laughter, signifying the lunatic brainwashed by social systems. Does industrial society mechanize us, change us into machines, or are we in control? We are on the run due to a paranoia of technology. The fear of flying is also a theme, encapsulated live with the doomed airplane as it explodes into a ball of flame in to the speaker stacks; this is a running theme in much of later PF works (notably "Learning to Fly").

"Time" is one of my favourite tracks with an excellent melody and amazing instrumental work. The clock chimes signify the alarm call where madness waits at the door, but time is wasted and we have achieved nothing. The reprise to "Breathe" is welcome and brings us back to where the album began preparing us for the masterpiece and most talked about track on the album.

"The Great Gig in the Sky" is an astral journey to the realm of death. Clare Torrys' wailing is like the moans of childbirth or in this case rebirth as we cross over to the plain of non existence into the next life, which feels like heaven mid way through the track as Torry evokes softer nuances, with angelic tones that sends shivers up the spine. Her howls and moans expressed in full voice signify the ecstasy of freedom and the agony of death. In concert three ladies took up the task of the three segments to showcase their incredible talented voices, but on the album Torry masterfully improvises the life and death pangs in such an emotive style, it is astounding. Thus ends the brilliant side one.

Could it get better? Indeed. "Money" begins side two with the ka-ching of cold hard cash, the root of all evil. This is my favourite track with one of the best bass lines in rock history, and played in a 7/8 time signature. The riff is disconcerting, complex and Gilmour's jangly guitar splashes complement the bass perfectly. The lyrics speak of money as the corruptible force that causes the filthy rich to blow millions on cars, leer jets, football teams and diamonds. The lyrics are ironic with a dark, satirical nature, but the effects of money and its misuse have never been more eloquently stated. The lyrics were read out by the school Master to tease the little boy on "The Wall" movie. Of course these lyrics and the song provided millions for the band. The money corrupted Pink Floyd too, their beliefs and values, the very thing the song was protesting. The saxophone solo is utterly brilliant and the way the song changes time signature is inspirational.

The pace slows considerably on "Us and Them" a song about belonging in a world that treats you as an outcast unless you can fit into the mould that society creates. The track relies heavily on clean guitar and mellotron and seems to float along like a stream of sound. The song's lyrics speak of those who are on the street because they cannot cope with the world, and those who are able to cope and therefore off the streets and safe in the cookie cutter mould of social integration. The song has political connotations seen in the live footage played in concert with images of famous presidents such as Thatcher and Bush.

"Any Colour You Like" has some wonderful shimmering Hammond and is a beautiful instrumental - one of PF's best. The track was named based on Ford advertising campaign 'Ford's are available in any colour you like, as long as it's black.' The album's black cover with colour prism strips could be a reference.

"Brain Damage" is about Syd, the PF relic that burned out to madness. The lyrics suggest the lunatic is within us but we manage to keep it locked up somehow, but it's like an animal that may escape its cage if we don't manage to keep a leash on our sanity.

The finale is "Eclipse" . The music soars as Waters muses about 'all that we touch', see and feel is eclipsed by the moon. The image of the dead moon, the dead conscious, is blocked out by the huge sun, the life force; the intelligence eclipsed by insanity. But there is an optimistic note amidst the dark side; everyone shares the feelings of hope amidst despair, and we can conquer over our hopelessness by embracing each other: 'There is no dark side of the moon, a matter of fact, it's all dark'. And the heartbeat that we heard at the beginning pounds and finally subsides. The heartbeat brings the album full circle and we can begin the album again and it blends seamlessly like a never ending cycle. And thus ends the penultimate prog classic that may well be the greatest album of all time. It peaked in the top 100 UK releases, the top 40 prog list in MOJO magazine and indeed on a recent television special the top Australian album of all time.

The album can be played while watching 'Wizard of Oz' and somehow works perfectly synchronized to the visuals in uncanny fashion. For more on this see the websites Darkside of Wizard of Oz. In any case, the album is the penultimate prog classic and will never be bettered for sheer volume and impact upon the prog scene. 5 stars without doubt.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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