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The Dark Side
by Asa Butcher
Issue 5
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Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd
EMI, 1973
Innocently I happened to mention to Thanos that I had never listened to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or any other Floyd album for that matter. Once he had stopped hyperventilating, I promised to stick on the CD player and ‘give it a go’. It was also a perfect opportunity to review the album for iKritic as a first-time listener, fresh ears, a fresh perspective and all that.

Pink Floyd albums have never interested me, although I have heard many of the popular tracks, such as Another Brick in the Wall and Comfortably Numb, played on the radio. I always loved their covers when flipping through my Dad’s vinyl collection, but I never pulled the 33-inch disc from the sleeve and experienced the ‘classic’ Floyd.

“It’s a classic!” Thanos exclaimed, that might be the case, but is it any good? Classic does not equate to good and a good album does not make it a classic. Naturally, the chance of listening to the crackle of the vinyl has passed me by, so it will be the 1992 digitally remastered version.

My prior knowledge of this album includes the fact that it can be spookily synched with The Wizard of Oz, it was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, it has sold over 34 million copies (not one to me though), Roger Waters wrote all the lyrics and it features the second line-up of Pink Floyd:

David Gilmour: Vocals, Guitars, VCS3 synthesiser
Nick Mason: Percussion, Tape Effects
Richard Wright: Keyboards, Vocals, VCS3
Roger Waters: Bass Guitar, Vocals, VCS3, Tape Effects

Storm Thorgerson’s prism album cover is stylish and regularly appears in top ten album cover lists, but we are not here to discuss cover artwork. I have nine tracks, 42:57 minutes, of Pink Floyd to enjoy or endure…

Finally, I understand what is meant by a ‘concept album’ because that is exactly what DSOTM has achieved. It is more an audio show or even an opera than a nine-track album because often I completely missed the start of a new song, since they blend seamlessly into one another. Again, is ‘song’ the correct word to use? I’d say that Money is the only track suitable for popular radio play and Time is a maybe, but that approach comes from living in an era of getting as many singles off an album as possible.

I enjoyed the album as a whole, but there were some moments to be endured, such as Us and Them melodically sending me to sleep before being shocked back to consciousness with ‘Forward he cried from the rear’ before I began to snooze once again. Disliking one track out of nine is not too bad, but the song did suit the feel of the album, especially the soothing echoes, and Dick Parry’s saxophone was quite seductive at times. I also doubt that anybody has ever used On the Run as the song for the first wedding dance, though.

Pink Floyd’s use of strange sound effects, abstract vocals and conversation really added to the atmosphere created by the songs. It proves that it isn’t contemporary music that uses sampling, although I have not heard an artist use, “I don't know, I was really drunk at the time!” provided by Wings’ guitarist Henry McColluch on their album before.

The heartbeat opening and closing the album was stylish, the excellent use of a ringing cash register on Money and I wonder if the start of Time was the inspiration for the opening scenes of Back to the Future, “I’m late for school!” – there was a sci-fi feel to some of audio effects employed though.

Roger Waters’ lyrics throughout the album were thoughtful, such as Eclipse’s ‘All that you…’, humorous, such as Money’s ‘Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie’, and Time’s ‘The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, Shorter of breath and one day closer to death’. However, it was Gilmour’s - I assume he’s the lead vocalist - haunting vocal performance that really made DSOTM.

Reading the lyrics, you understand that the album is about life and death, society and neurosis, “You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way”. While The Great Gig in the Sky has no lyrics, as such, it is one of the best tracks on the album. The special wailing vocal technique was improvised by Clare Torry, who was told not to form any words and the result is striking.

There is no definitive genre on the album, which is why it a concept album, he says displaying his newfound knowledge. Pink Floyd master a number of styles, but really pull it together and rock on Money, with a superb guitar performance by Gilmour and other band members getting some cool sounds from their instruments.

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is not party music and it is not driving music, it is probably best to listen late at night under a pair of headphones. The album has sold over 34 million copies since it was made 32 years ago – I guess you can add another copy to that now.

The time is gone, the article is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

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