Sunday, June 17, 2007

292. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

Track Listing

1. Speak To Me
2. Breathe
3. On The Run
4. Time
5. Great Gig In The Sky
6. Money
7. Us And Them
8. Any Colour You Like
9. Brain Damage
10. Eclipse


This is probably one of the most famous albums in the world, and there is good reason for it. Many have called Dark Side Of The Moon an overrated album, they have said the same about Pet Sounds for example and while to some extent I agree that both these albums aren't as hierophantic as some seem to consider them they are still pretty much the crème de la crème of popular music in the time they were put out there. It is easy to dismiss some albums with 30 years of stuff based on them to look at. But in an historical sense they are essential. It's a bit like saying that the guy who invented the computer was crap because he was using perforated paper. Most of those naysayers are usually more informed by ignorance than actual legitimate grievances. Of course taste is subjective and I perfectly respect someone who hates this album for no apparent reason, it happens to me too. Now when you try to justify it through subjective reasoning, like "it's crap", that's not really going to stick or change anyone's ideas. I'd like to see some good reasoned discourse when trying to tear down well loved albums.

Now that I finished my rant about post-modernist appreciations of albums without taking history or context into account, lets get on with the review. Dark Side is a truly staggering album, I can safely say that it is the most successful that Prog ever was, not only in term of sales and popularity, but more importantly musically. Pink Floyd manage to marry the concept to music that is tailored so perfectly around it that it is astounding.

Another impressive thing about this album is the use of sound effects, and while we have seen these in music all the way back to Pet Sounds (again) or even in Tchaikovsky's Overture 1812, it was never used as effectively as here. Never as effective of as deliberately a part of the music and message. The sound effects not only add to the general mood and feel of the tracks, like the clocks in Time or the cash sounds in Money, but they go on at a much more complex level. The sounds actually add to the meaning and relevance of the songs. The interview technique is particularly important in this respect, the little snippets of conversation which populate the album with it's own inner life are perhaps more effective than any lyric. The fact that they are also not rehearsed makes them sound real and natural, which they indeed are, giving this whole different organic texture to the album. The addition of a female singer to the band again adds something.

If this was a double album it would probably be overextended, as it is it has the perfect length not to be tiring and the fact is we are still talking about it today. An essential addition to anyone's collection. Get it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Time
2. Great Gig In The Sky
3. Money
4. Us And Them

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

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 because the band members could not 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 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 bruisin'" and the often-misheard "I never said I was frightened of dying" (during the middle of "The Great Gig in the Sky") came from Peter's wife, Myfanwy Watts.

The responses "And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying, 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... as a 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." (Apparently in answer to the question "Why does anyone do anything?", which immediately preceded it.)

Time from P.U.L.S.E.:


Anonymous said...

To respond to: "Now when you try to justify it through subjective reasoning, like 'it's crap', that's not really going to stick or change anyone's ideas. I'd like to see some good reasoned discourse when trying to tear down well loved albums."

I would certainly laud this comment, as I wholeheartedly agree. unfortunately, i've been witness to you, many times in this very blog, using this same vague and slippery language that does nothing in the name of "discourse". Hard words with a soft landing, if you will. Granted, you can write your share of niceties, but it's the times when you write something off immediately, because of whatever unknown personal history you have, or whatever preconceptions you have about a genre (prog-rock comes to mind!).

Don't get me wrong, Rush has been dismissed by many - including you - but you don't offer any reason for anyone to consider your angle.

just saying.

Francisco Silva said...

Honestly I woudln't call any album by Rush well loved, except by a minority of fanatics. It's like saying Al-Qaeda is well loved.

Rush is pretentious, and not very good. They think they are all that and then they aren't, their lyrics are inane to the point of laughable and their music is little more than masturbation, yes they can play but nothing good.