In March, 1973, Pink Floyd released their eighth studio album The Dark Side Of The Moon. The rest, as they say, is history. It is one of the best-selling albums of all-time and most people throughout their personal journey of music will experience and enjoy what is an album that pushes many correct buttons.
Astonishingly, the album peaked at Number 2 in the U.K. album charts and never hit the summit. I really could not believe this but it is seemingly quite true. This is countered by the fact that the album spent a sheer eternity in the Top 200 and I hate to think how much money it has made for EMI.
The Dark Side Of The Moon was released when I was three years of age and before I even listened to it in my teenage years I just knew it was a classic album – some things you can’t mess with. It’s simple sleeve is instantly recognisable and the posters included where spotted on practically every school friends older brothers wall whilst growing up.
What the album does well is that it offers a massively accessible deep experience. It is gentle largely but is an assault on your aural senses. Pink Floyd tame the force of nature that was Meddle and some of the guest vocalists take the album to the mainstream with alarming ease and style.
Speak To Me (Mason) starts The Dark Side Of The Moon with a heartbeat effect and previews of samples that the album would feature.
This gives way, with no interlude, into Breathe (Waters / Gilmour / Wright). A languid vibe enters and instruments are caressed rather than struck. The sound is clear and the lyrics just flow.
On The Run (Waters / Gilmour) enters, again with no interlude, with distant voices seemingly from an airport. A wobbling, electronic yet organic synthesiser fazes around with a ticking metronome effect for backing. The album pulls deeper and this does indeed sound fantastic on a pair of headphones.
Time (Waters / Gilmour / Wright / Mason) wakes the dreamy disorientating effect of the previous song with a loud sharp alarm clock ring. A boomy solid bass pushes to generate a roomy yet tense vibe. After about two and a half minutes Dave Gilmour’s vocal tames the effect and the mood lifts. Female backing vocals for the first time widen the appeal and this really does work to give a grander feel. A guitar solo streaks only itself to be tamed by those female backing vocals. The backing vocals then stir the music and push the song on yet again. The track lulls into the album opener for its finale.
The Great Gig In The Sky (Wright / Torrey) is led by the keyboard which is softly added too by guitar and bass. Exactly when the drums skip in a hair raising vocal with no actual words is sung by session vocalist Clare Torrey. This vocal was the first and only take and I doubt if it could be bettered if they’d recorded it all day.
Money (Waters) is a very famous Pink Floyd song that starts with a cash till sound before giving way to a clean sounding prog anthem. A saxophone enters and it is another song from The Dark Side Of The Moon that would resonate with millions of listeners. The tempo ups to give brief solos and allow Nick Mason to work his magic on the drum kit. It has both a jam feel and also sounds very well structured. It’s just a bunch of great musicians doing their thang really.
Us And Them (Waters / Wright) is softer in delivery and is also the longest song on The Dark Side Of The Moon. Saxophones again serve to give the track a wider appeal than their previous albums. The song rises to a sombre yet triumphant sounding chorus. The overall all tone is downbeat yet the song soars away from this vibe at times only to snuggle back down to the more moody vibe. Again, backing vocals add an awful lot to the feel and sonic of the song. Whilst typing this (and listening to the album) a cat just walked across the roof, looked at me, kind of shrugged and slowly walked off. That’s the magic of this album encapsulated really – it can just fit anything that you are doing.
Any Colour You Like (Mason / Gilmour / Wright) follows again with no musical break (the whole album flows as one piece). It is an instrumental that loosely jams away. It really serves to faze away the previous song and set the way for…
Brain Damage (Waters) and the album is going out in a rallying blaze of glory. Mental health is raised topic wise and it’s hard not to see this as an ode in an only respectful way to Syd Barrett. The song empathises rather than examines mental illness and it really is lovingly and respectfully done.
Eclipse (Waters) and we get a low slung wig-out. It really is Brain Damage Part II in all but name. It has a finality to it and soars again with the gospel tinged backing vocals that this album uses so effectively.
The Dark Side Of The Moon does deserve both it huge sales and acclaim. It could really be seen as Pink Floyd peaking and finally becoming accesible to the masses. It is a hard album to crticise and is one you can revisit like an old friend you have not seen for years yet have no reservations about. In short, it’s one for anyones music collection…
As a foot note I have to mention the near conspiracy theory that the album fits The Wizard Of Oz eerily well. At times it really does look like it was made to fit the movie. Of course this is just coincidence and rather like the cat on the roof today the album fits almost anything…