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The Dark Side Of The Moon

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The Dark Side Of The Moon
The Dark Side Of The Moon
Released March 24, 1973
Recorded June 1972-January 1973 Abbey Road Studios
Genre Progressive Rock, Electronic Music, Musique Concrète
Length 43:00
Label Harvest, EMI
Producer(s) Pink Floyd
The Dark Side Of The Moon is a 1973 concept album by Pink Floyd. It explores the nature of the human experience, with themes such as time, greed, conflict, travel, mental illness, and death.

It is considered by many fans to be the band's magnum opus (surpassing even The Wall). It was a landmark in rock music, featuring radio-suitable songs such as "Money", "Time", "Us and Them", and "Brain Damage/Eclipse" that also incorporate ethereal concrete sound techniques. Some critics use the album as a point of reference between "classic" blues rock and the then-new genre of electronic music. However, the work's softer touches of lyrical and musical nuance are what make Dark Side stand apart from its peers. All four of the band members participated in the writing and production. It is also important to note that this is the first Pink Floyd album with all lyrics credited to Roger Waters.

Concept

The Dark Side Of The Moon deals conceptually with the pressures of modern life that can drive normal human beings to insanity: materialism, the increased pace of life and travel, the encroachment of old age and death, the inhumanities of society and armed conflict. These themes are not just delivered with words, but are suggested with sounds and lyrics. For example, the sound of an airplane crash in the track "On the Run" represents a fear of flight. "Time" discusses how quickly life can slip by those who are unaware of it, using actual alarm bells to wake the listener. "The Great Gig in the Sky", which had a working title of "The Mortality Sequence", comments on the nature of death. The lyrics and sound effects of "Money" flippantly endorse greed for ironic effect, and states that it is "the root of all evil today". "Us and Them" deals with interpersonal conflict and the insanity of warfare. The meaning of "Any Colour You Like" is not as clear as the other songs, but it is thought to represent the fear of taking risks when taking choices - the song title came from an answer frequently given by a studio technician to questions put to him: "You can have it any colour you like", which was a reference to Henry Ford's description of the Model T: "You can have it any color you like, as long as it's black". "Brain Damage" reaches out to the outsiders ("lunatics") who may be the only people that recognise society's faults. It also is about their former member Syd Barrett. Finally, "Eclipse" describes the true essence of a person through the impact they have left on others.

Precursors to the Dark Side concept can be found in many of Pink Floyd's earlier works. The band had previously performed a conceptual piece, The Man and the Journey, based on the everyday life of a man during their 1969 European tour. Roger Waters' lyrical obsession with insanity was in part precipitated by the departure of Syd Barrett (a founding member of Pink Floyd) following his mental collapse. Perhaps most important to the gestation of Dark Side is the song "Echoes" from Meddle, which also deals with interpersonal relationships using progressive ambient music. However, the decision to tackle individual parts of life in an album-length concept work is said to have been conceived during a band meeting in Nick Mason's kitchen circa late 1971.

Roger Waters wrote all of the lyrics (a first for Pink Floyd), and created the early demo tracks in a small garden shed-turned-recording studio near his house.

Recording

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios between June 1972 and January 1973, the album sessions made use of the most advanced techniques available for recording instruments and sound effects in rock music at that time. Along with the conventional rock band instrumentation, Pink Floyd added prominent synthesizers to their sound, as well as some unconventional noises: an assistant engineer running around the studio's echo chamber (during "On the Run"), myriad antique clocks chiming simultaneously (as the intro to "Time"), and a specially-treated bass drum made to sound like a human heartbeat (at the beginning and end of the album).

Another novelty found on Dark Side is the metronomic sequence of sound effects played during "Speak to Me" and "Money". This was achieved by laboriously splicing together recordings of ringing cash registers, clinking coins, tearing paper, and buzzing counting machines onto a two-track tape loop (later adapted to four tracks in order to create a unique "walk around the room" effect in quadrophonic presentations of the album). Pink Floyd also perfected the use of other studio techniques such as the doubletracking of vocals and guitars (allowing David Gilmour to harmonise flawlessly with himself), flanging effects, odd trickery with reverb and the panning of sounds between channels. To this day, audiophiles use The Dark Side of the Moon as a reference standard to test the fidelity of audio equipment, despite the fact that it was originally mixed from third-generation tape with Dolby noise reduction.

Voices

Snippets of dialogue between and over the top of the songs are also featured on the recording. Roger Waters devised a method of interviewing people, whereby questions were printed on flashcards in sequential order and the subject's responses were recorded uninterrupted. The questions related to central themes of the album, such as madness, violence and death. Participants were commandeered from around Abbey Road, placed in the darkened studio in front of a microphone, and told to answer the questions in the order which they were presented. This provoked some surprising responses to subsequent questions; for example, the question "When was the last time you were violent?" was immediately followed by "Were you in the right?"

Recordings of road manager Roger "The Hat" Manifold were the only ones obtained through a conventional sit-down interview, as the band members couldn't find him at the time and his responses (including "give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock..." and "live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me...") had to be taped later, when the flashcards had been lost. Another roadie, Chris Adamson, was on tour with Pink Floyd at the time and recorded his explicit diatribe that opens the album ("I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, over the edge for yonks...").

Pink Floyd's executive road manager Peter 'Puddie' Watts (father of actress Naomi Watts) contributed the repeated laughter during "Brain Damage" and "Speak to Me"; the monologue about "geezers" who were "cruisin' for a brusin" and the often-misheard "I never said I was afraid of dying" (during the middle of "The Great Gig in the Sky") came from Peter's wife, Myfanwy 'Miv' Watts.

The responses "there's no reason for it, you've got to go some time" (during "The Great Gig in the Sky") and closing words "there is no dark side of the Moon really... matter of fact it's all dark" (over the "Eclipse" heartbeats) came from the Abbey Road Studios' Irish doorman at the time, Gerry Driscoll. Paul and Linda McCartney were also interviewed, but their answers were considered too cautious for inclusion. McCartney's bandmate Henry McCullough contributed the famous line "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time".

Alan Parsons engineered the album while on staff at Abbey Road. He once said in an interview that he swapped shifts with colleagues in order to work on the whole project.

Success

The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best-selling albums of all time worldwide, and the 20th-best-selling album in the United States. It peaked at #1 on The Billboard 200. Though it held the #1 spot for only one week, it spent a record total of 741 consecutive weeks (over 14 years) on that list. It was on the chart from its release until leaving the chart on April 23rd 1988. To this day, it occupies a prominent spot on Billboard's Pop Catalog Chart, reaching #1 when the 2003 Hybrid SACD edition was released and sold 800,000 copies in the U.S. alone. On the week of May 5, 2006, Dark Side of the Moon achieved a combined total of 1500 weeks on the Billboard 200 and Pop Catalog charts.

Sales of the album worldwide total over 40 million as of 2004, with an average of 8,000 copies sold per week and a total of 400,000 in the year of 2002 — making it the 200th-best-selling album of that year nearly three decades after its initial release. It is estimated that one in every 14 people in the U.S. under the age of 50 owns or owned a copy of this album. According to an August 2, 2006 Wall Street Journal article, although the album was released in 1973, it has sold 7.7 million copies since 1991 in the U.S. alone and continues to log 9600 sales per week domestically.

The LP was released before platinum awards were introduced by the RIAA on January 1, 1976, and it initially only received a gold disc. However, after the introduction of the album on CD, Dark Side would eventually be certified Platinum in 1990 and then Diamond by 1999 in America. It is now at 15x Platinum and counting. "Time", "Money" and "Us and Them" remain radio call-in request favourites, with "Money" having sold well as a single in its own right.

The Dark Side of the Moon was re-released as a 30th anniversary Hybrid SACD with a 5.1 channel DSD surround sound version remixed from the original 16-track studio tapes. Some surprise was expressed when longtime producer James Guthrie was called in to make the SACD rather than the original LP engineer, Alan Parsons. This 30th anniversary edition won four Surround Music Awards in 2003, the same year that Rolling Stone magazine named Dark Side of the Moon the 43rd greatest album of all time. The Dark Side of the Moon was also re-released in 2003 on 180-gram virgin vinyl and included reprints of the original posters and stickers that came with the original vinyl release, along with a new 30th anniversary poster.

In 1997, The Dark Side of the Moon was named the 6th greatest album of all time in a 'Music of the Millennium' poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 1998, Q magazine readers placed it at number 10, while in 2001 the United States cable television channel VH1 placed it at number 51.

In 2006, The Dark Side of the Moon was voted the ultimate life changing track (despite being the only full album in the shortlist) in a Music Club poll conducted by the Jeremy Vine radio show on BBC Radio 2.

Track Listing

  1. "Speak To Me" (Mason) - 1:00
  2. "Breathe" (Gilmour/Waters/Wright) - 2:59
  3. "On The Run" (Gilmour/Waters) - 3:35
  4. "Time / Breathe (Reprise)" (Gilmour/Mason/Waters/Wright) - 7:04
  5. "The Great Gig In The Sky" (Wright/Claire Torry) - 4:48
  6. "Money" (Waters) - 6:24
  7. "Us And Them" (Waters/Wright) - 7:49
  8. "Any Colour You Like" (Gilmour/Mason/Wright) - 3:26
  9. "Brain Damage" (Waters) - 3:50
  10. "Eclipse" (Waters) - 2:04

The credits to Clare Torry for "The Great Gig in the Sky" were added for the first time in P*U*L*S*E DVD release, due to legal battle won by Torry against Pink Floyd.

Miscellanea

  • The title The Dark Side of the Moon had already been used for an unrelated album from the band Medicine Head, so this piece was retitled "Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics" when it was played live during Pink Floyd's 1972 tour. However, Medicine Head's album flopped, and so the original title was once again used.
  • Some more recent editions of the album (including those in the Shine On box set and the live version on initial pressings of P*U*L*S*E) have slightly different songwriting credits: they add Roger Waters' name to "Speak to Me" and "The Great Gig in the Sky", and Richard Wright's name to "On the Run". These credits reverted to their original form by the time of the SACD release in 2003. Subsequent releases may include Clare Torry's name next to Wright's, in recognition of her contributions to "The Great Gig in the Sky" (the aftermath of a court settlement).
  • Although now, with the advent of computers, the song "On the Run" could feasibly be played by one person or with one touch of the play button, in the 1970s the song actually required every member of the band on the equipment, adjusting specific knobs at specific times.
  • Because the original LP record had two sides, there was a break between "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Money", which did not exist in live performances. Alan Parsons added a small crossfade between these two tracks for the digitally remastered CD. The remastering was supervised by James Guthrie and Doug Sax.
  • Before the album was officially released, the band had been playing a more traditional version of the song "On the Run" (without the use of synthesizers and other electronic instruments) called "The Travel Section." A short clip of this is played on the DVD "Classic Albums: The Making of Dark Side of the Moon" and can also be found on all downloadable versions of Pink Floyd playing the album live in 1972.
  • On most CD pressings, a barely-audible orchestral version of The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" is audible after "Eclipse", playing very faintly over the heartbeats that close the album. It is unknown why this was included, but it was probably the consequence of a mastering error. The bootleg recording A Tree Full of Secrets includes an amplified, re-processed version of this oddity, which allows it to be heard clearly.
  • In 2003, VH1 named the album cover of Dark Side of the Moon the 4th greatest of all time. The network's "Classic Albums" series presented an in-depth programme on The Dark Side of the Moon; it was later released on DVD and included interviews with Gilmour, Mason, Waters, Wright, Alan Parsons, Storm Thorgerson and Chris Thomas about the making of the album.
  • Dark Side of the Moon was the first Pink Floyd album to have a custom picture label depicting a blue prism with black background with the credits in grey lettering but the US edition's lettering was in white.
  • Although many artists have performed individual songs on Dark Side in cover versions, several have chosen to pay tribute to the album by performing it in its entirely. On November 2, 1998, legendary jam-band Phish covered the entire album at one of their smaller concerts before a very pleased crowd of 4,000 in Utah. Likewise jam-band moe. covered the entire album in 2000 at their halloween show in Philadelphia
  • In 2000, The Squirrels released The Not So Bright Side of the Moon, their cover of the album. New York reggae label Easy Star All-Stars commissioned a reggae version of the album, entitled Dub Side of the Moon, which closely copied the original Dark Side but added additional material.
  • Dream Theater went so far as to release a live DVD containing their cover; although it was not released officially, it is available through the web site YtseJam Records. They performed the show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London during 2005. Guest musicians appearing with the band for this performance included Norbert Satchel from Roger Waters' band and Theresa Thomason on vocals. A previous performance took place in Amsterdam, Holland, but this was not released.
  • Humorous tributes to Pink Floyd's work are also common. In 2006, Richard Cheese released his greatest hits album, The Sunny Side of the Moon, which contained a cover version of "Another Brick in the Wall" (originally from the album The Wall). In the "Fairly OddParents" animated television program, Timmy Turner goes to his hippie teacher's yard sale, where he finds an album called Dark Side of the Smoof.
  • In 2006, Alan Parsons' original quadrophonic mix of Dark Side appeared online as a download from the master tapes. Despite Parsons' misgivings about this version, which was made in much less time than the stereo mix and without input from the band, it has proved popular with fans.
  • Roger Waters' 2006 tour, The Dark Side Of The Moon Live, consists of performances divided into two sets, the second of which constitutes The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. Nick Mason has agreed to join him and play drums on Dark Side during the shows at Reykjavík, Iceland on June 12; at Cork, Ireland on June 29; at London, England on July 1; at Lucca, Italy on July 12, and at the Magny-Cours F1 Race Circuit in France on July 14.
  • At the end of track 5 (or 4, depending on the edition), "The Great Gig in the Sky", with about 13 seconds left the track speeds up to save time. When this is done it puts the music slightly out of tune.
  • In 1990, Australian radio listeners voted it the best album to make love to.
  • At the Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto, Canada on March 3, 2006, during a Q&A with the audience, engineer Alan Parsons revealed that first-efforts to get a heartbeat sound on the track Eclipse involved Parsons, followed by various members of the band, holding a microphone up to their chests. Not having any success, they found a solution in recording a bass drum with some effects.

Credits

  • David Gilmour — Vocals, Guitar, VCS 3 Synthesizer, Keyboards
  • Roger Waters — Bass Guitar, Vocals, VCS 3 Synthesizer, Tape Effects
  • Rick Wright — Keyboards, Vocals, VCS 3 Synthesizer
  • Nick Mason — Drums, Percussion, Tape Effects

with

  • Lesley Duncan — Vocals (background)
  • Doris Troy — Vocals (background)
  • Barry St. John — Vocals (background)
  • Liza Strike — Vocals (background)
  • Clare Torry — Vocals (on "The Great Gig in the Sky")
  • Dick Parry — Saxophone
  • Alan Parsons — Engineer
  • Peter James — Assistant Engineer
  • Chris Thomas — Mixing consultant
  • Hipgnosis — Design, Photography
  • Storm Thorgerson — 20th and 30th Anniversary Edition Designs
  • George Hardie — Illustrations, Sleeve Art
  • Jill Furmanosky — Photography
  • David Sinclair — Liner Notes in CD re-release

Quotes

"It's very well-balanced and well-constructed, dynamically and musically, and I think the humanity of its approach is appealing. It's satisfying. I think also that it was the first album of that kind. People often quote S.F. Sorrow by The Pretty Things as being from a similar mould — they were both done in the same studio at about the same time — but I think it was probably the first completely cohesive album that was made. A concept album, mate! I always thought it would be hugely successful. I had the same feelings about The Wall. […] But of course, The Dark Side of the Moon finished The Pink Floyd off once and for all. To be that successful is the aim of every group. And once you've cracked it, it's all over. In hindsight, I think The Pink Floyd was finished as long ago as that." - Roger Waters in June 1987, with Chris Salewicz.

Singles

In some countries, notably the UK, Pink Floyd did not release any singles between 1968's "Point Me at the Sky" and 1979's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two)". However, the following were released in the U.S. and many other countries:

  • "Money"/"Any Colour You Like" — Harvest/Capitol 3609; released June, 1973
  • "Time"/"Us and Them" — Harvest/Capitol 45373; released February 4, 1974

The latter is sometimes considered a double A side.

Synchronity With The Wizard Of Oz

When the album is played simultaneously with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, numerous images from the film appear to synchronize with the music and lyrics. For example, the line "balanced on the biggest wave" from "Breathe" is sung as Dorothy balances on the rail of a pig pen, "who knows which is which" from "Us and Them" is sung as the good and evil witches confront each other, and the closing heartbeats sound as Dorothy listens to the Tin Woodsman's empty chest. Band members say the phenomenon, dubbed "Dark Side of the Rainbow" by fans, is a coincidence, but it has achieved a measure of cultural fame.

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