Review : Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon: Experience Edition
PopmattersWhen Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973, it marked a turning point creatively for the band. Having emerged from the London underground in 1967, Pink Floyd had struggled to find their artistic footing after the departure of founder Syd Barrett in 1969 because of his mental collapse due to drug abuse. Dark Side, fortunately for the band’s career, was an immediate commercial success. It went to No. 1 in several countries, earned critical raves, and turned Pink Floyd from a cult act to a global phenomenon. What’s more, it showed that the band had finally defined itself creatively. Previous Pink Floyd albums had clinkers and throwaway songs (recall the barking dogs joke “Seamus” on 1971’s Meddle) or ambitious compositions undone by poor production and uneven songwriting (see almost all of 1970’s Atom Heart Mother). Dark Side has neither. You can’t really separate any track from the album, because they’re all inextricably bound together into a seamless whole. The band (along with engineer Alan Parsons) found a way to fuse music and production together. It’s a trick other artists had tried before (most notably the Beatles and Led Zeppelin) but Dark Side of the Moon pulled it off in a way that no other album did or could have.
Yet, like all blockbuster albums, Dark Side of the Moon is not always what it seems. It’s fascinating to note that Dark Side is sometimes considered a quintessential psychedelic album because in many ways, it’s really the antithesis of psychedelic music. It’s not that the production isn’t elaborate or the music isn’t extended into lengthy intricate passages. It’s that the overall mood is so unrelentingly dour. If psychedelia means anything, it’s that the music has always represented a way for listeners to embark on a mind-expanding journey of self-discovery. With Dark Side, that’s simply not possible—the album basically tells the listener what to think and what to feel. By 1973, Pink Floyd’s singer/bassist Roger Waters had entered the beginning of his bleakest and most cynical phase as a lyricist and he wrote the bulk, if not all, of the lyrics on this album. The satire of greed in “Money” is biting and sardonic, but it is in no way mind-expanding. There are also references to Barrett’s disintegration throughout Dark Side, most notably on “Brain Damage”, a song about mental illness that’s so desolate, it will surely inspire listeners to somber contemplation rather than romantic idealism. Similarly, though the music is artfully constructed and produced, it’s devoid of anything that could be considered uplifting or invigorating. If anything it’s insular and desolate, with its slow tempos and spare melodies. The only “rock” song here is “Money” and it doesn’t even really count, considering it’s in 7/4 time. Only the climactic “Eclipse” suggests any sort of catharsis, and even then the song’s closing lyrics—“the sun is eclipsed by the moon”—are not exactly elevating. They do, however, fit in with the overall themes of alienation and isolation that emerge in the lyrics. In that regard, the album is indeed a seamless whole the way many psychedelic artists had intended, albeit for a completely different purpose....full text
GuardianYou could wish for no greater demonstration of Pink Floyd's legendary reserve than their attitude to their back catalogue. Their peers churned out deluxe editions laden with the previously unreleased. Pink Floyd didn't. Still, they're certainly making up for lost time now. The first in a series of vast, costly box sets, the Immersion edition of The Dark Side of the Moon includes 10 different versions of the 48m-selling behemoth. Leaving aside the innumerable surround sound and quadrophonic mixes (in keeping with the album's reputation as the hi-fi bore's demonstration disc of choice), there's a 1974 live performance, originally recorded for BBC radio, that rather pleasingly roughs up the studio gloss of the original. The really interesting stuff is squirrelled away on disc six, including demos and live tracks that reveal what the band tried before settling on The Great Gig in the Sky, Any Colour You Like and the electronic burbling of On the Run: noodling, more noodling and – oh God – noodling in a vaguely jazz-funk vein, respectively.
At the heart of The Dark Side of the Moon are a set of world-weary ruminations on ageing, the pressures of work and travel, social injustice, money and a bit of post-RD Laing "Who's to say who's mad and who isn't?" antipsychiatry: the latter a question you would have thought Pink Floyd had formed a fairly definitive answer to around the time their former leader Syd Barrett started taking to the stage wearing a pot of Brylcreem with barbiturates in it on his head. The lyrical mood is largely one of doleful acceptance, with music to match: elegiac and beautiful, The Dark Side of the Moon sounds, for the most part, like a long, resigned sigh. Perhaps once Clare Torry's improvised vocal on The Great Gig in the Sky spoke to listeners of terror beyond words, but these days, it's simply too familiar to strike that chord: it probably lost its ability to evoke the fear of death somewhere between being used on an advert for Nurofen and being voted the best song ever to have sex to in a poll of Australian radio listeners....full text
AllmusicBy condensing the sonic explorations of Meddle to actual songs and adding a lush, immaculate production to their trippiest instrumental sections, Pink Floyd inadvertently designed their commercial breakthrough with Dark Side of the Moon. The primary revelation of Dark Side is what a little focus does for the band. Roger Waters wrote a series of songs about mundane, everyday details which aren't that impressive by themselves, but when given the sonic backdrop of Floyd's slow, atmospheric soundscapes and carefully placed sound effects, they achieve an emotional resonance. But what gives the album true power is the subtly textured music, which evolves from ponderous, neo-psychedelic art rock to jazz fusion and blues-rock before turning back to psychedelia. It's dense with detail, but leisurely paced, creating its own dark, haunting world. Pink Floyd may have better albums than Dark Side of the Moon, but no other record defines them quite as well as this one. [Dwarfed next to its Immersion Edition cousin, the Experience Edition of Dark Side of the Moon contains James Guthrie's 2011 remaster of the classic 1973 album and a second disc containing Pink Floyd's 1974 concert at Wembley where they performed the album in its entirety. Although some fans may wish that the bonus disc contained the original Alan Parsons mix, demos, and outtakes that is exclusive to the six-disc Immersion Edition, this is an excellent concert that captures the Floyd at full flight, and it is certainly a worthwhile addition to a familiar classic....full text
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