Classic Albums Revisited: The Dark Side Of The Moon By Pink Floyd

March 2023 sees the 50th anniversary of one of Pink Floyd’s most revered albums, the highly influential Dark Side of the Moon, and it is also the band’s bestselling album, with over 45 million copies sold worldwide.

Sadly, there is much drama surrounding Pink Floyd, and DSOTM is now part of it, with Roger Waters recently revealing that he has re-recorded it without any of the Floyd members, but we’ll get to that a little later in this retro review, which will be the first installment of our Classic Albums Revisited series.

About Dark Side of the Moon

The original concept and lyrics were created by then bassist/vocalist Roger Waters, with the band helping contribute to the songwriting. The DSOM album features Roger on bass/vocals/tape effects/VCS 3, David Gilmour (vocals/guitar/Synthi-AKS), Nick Mason (drums/percussion/tape effects), and Richard Wright (Hammond and Farfisa organs/pianos/Synthi-AKS/vocals).

A bit of info that I wasn’t aware of is that this album was performed live far before its release date and that it was actually made with the idea of performing it in full while on tour. Wikipedia says that …

“Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics,” as it was then known, was performed for an assembled press on February 17th, 1972, at the Rainbow Theatre, more than a year before its release, and was critically acclaimed. Michael Wale of The Times described the piece as “bringing tears to the eyes. It was so completely understanding and musically questioning.” Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote, “The ambition of Floyd’s artistic intention is now vast.”

The Music

The concept for the 1973 version of this record was to deal …

“with things that “make people mad (i.e., insane or crazy),” focusing on the pressures associated with the band’s arduous lifestyle, and dealing with the apparent mental health problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett.”

The album begins with “Speak to Me/Breathe,” which is very much a psychedelic song. The first minute of the track consists of various tape effects, the cash register sound that you’ll recognize from “Money,” and other assorted conversations. When the music for “Breathe” begins, it has the clearest and cleanest production values. David’s guitar has what is now known as his signature sound, and the mix of sounds from the Hammond Organ and an extremely solid rhythm section is absolutely perfect. The runtime seems short, thanks to the intro, but it is also precisely what the song needs.

“On the Run” is primarily sound effects, but it is still very interesting. I love how the sounds utilize the stereo mixing, as they flow from the left to the right sides, creating a cool effect as they swirl around the speakers.

Then we come to “Time,” whose intro is a cacophony of ringing clocks and bells. The music comes in with a dark overtone and has some beautiful background sounds. I love Gilmour’s lead; it’s bluesy at its root and flows so exquisitely. All the vocal work is beautifully performed, with the female backing vocals applying a soulful bend to an already excellent track.

According to Genius Lyrics,

“This is the only track on the album that credits all 4 members of the band. It’s about how time can slip by, but many people do not realize it until it is too late. Roger Waters got the idea when he realized he was no longer preparing for anything in life but was right in the middle of it at the age of 29.”

“The Great Gig on the Sky” has a phenomenal vibe despite having no actual lyrics. The wailing vocal sounds performed by Claire Torry rise and fall like crashing waves, following the dynamic shifts within the music, and the instrumentation is fantastic.

Up next is one of my all-time favorite songs, which brings back memories of my youth. My Dad would play this album at home, and “Money” always hit me in an indescribable way.

I can’t point out anything in this song that could be considered flawed, the guitar and bass parts are stellar, and the vocals are performed in a way that makes them the best of the album. David plays a smoking lead, but it’s still that bass part that I will forever gravitate towards. Add in an incredible saxophone solo, and this song is one of the band’s most perfect ones ever to be written.

“Us and Them” dials things back a bit, beginning with a psychedelic element topped off with a jazzy saxophone part, which eventually returns grandly. While this isn’t one of my favorite tracks, it does have its moments, but it’s just a bit too far on the mellow side for me. As with the rest of this album, the production is incredible, better than some newer bands are getting in modern times.

“Any Colour You Like” is just ok, in my opinion, as it feels a bit tedious and unnecessary.

Another song I’ll always gravitate to is “Brain Damage,” about the road to insanity taken by their old singer, Syd Barrett. This track leads directly into the last song, “Eclipse.” The two go hand in hand on stage as well, but I really prefer “Brain Damage” as a kid; I thought the lyrics were interesting, despite not being old enough to understand their true meaning. There’s also a soul music undertone that I think is incredibly well done.

Fan Thoughts

Scott, who operates the Clean and Sober Stoner site (which I strongly recommend you check out), has a less-than-glowing opinion on the album; here’s what he told me on Twitter …

“I have a hard time thinking of a more boring, dull, or monotonous album than DSOTM. If it wasn’t for the iconic perfection of Gilmore and the tasty keyboards by Richard Wright, this woulda have been a bargain bin remnant.”

Miami, FL psych band Psychsomatik says that …

“Dark Side of the Moon is an example that every band should aspire to. DSOM had revolutionary effects, sonic textures, and a much greater influence on pop culture. It also has the best album cover, variety of songs, and it’s probably the most accessible concept album of all time.”

Twitter user @BiscMerch had an extremely positive review as well …

“Dark Side is an impeccable album. I can’t think of a single misplaced note or idea on the entire thing. The songs alone may not seem like a huge deal, but they flow together to create something extraordinary. The guitar work, the vocal interplay. It’s perfect prog.”

Dark Side Drama from Roger Waters

It’s been a well-documented fact that Roger Waters, who left Floyd in 1985, has had a lengthy dispute/hatred for David Gilmour and Pink Floyd as a whole. On February 5th, he posted an interview with BERLINER ZEITUNG on his website. During that chat, he disclosed that he had re-recorded DSOM to “steal back” the album with his original concept and approach.

“The new concept is meant to reflect on the meaning of the work, to bring out the heart and soul of the album,” he says, “musically and spiritually. I’m the only one singing my songs on these new recordings, and there are no rock and roll guitar solos.”

This new version comes out in May 2023, and even though I’m not a fan of his attitude on the world, or his extreme political opinions, I am still looking forward to hearing this updated recording, but the lack of guitar solos will probably ruin it for me.

Final Thoughts

I have always enjoyed this album, and I don’t see that ever changing. It amazes me that they were able to create such a clear-sounding production 50 years ago, as DSOM has a sound that I feel is unmatched in that era. While I may not enjoy every track, it is still an album of great music that has survived the tests of time and will be talked about for many years to come.

This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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