A Pink Floyd album about madness, notable for its odd synchronizations with The Wizard of Oz (see Dark Side Of The Rainbow). Released in 1973, the current band members were Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright. The songs are, in order, Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, and Eclipse. On a side note, the album was originally set to be named Eclipse, but another album was released recently with the same title, so they changed it.


Speak to Me (Instrumental)
Breathe
On the Run (Instrumental)
Time
The Great Gig in the Sky (Instrumental)
Money
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like (Instrumental)
Brain Damage
Eclipse
The Dark Side of the Moon album had Alan Parsons doing the studio work. Yup, the guy from the Alan Parsons Project. When Alan became autonomous and famous from his "project", the boys from Floyd were asked about Mr. Parsons. They said the studio work could've been done by a monkey, and Alan didn't make "the sound". Alan disputes this.

This album also happens to be the one album that has been in Billboard's Top 200 albums list for the longest period of time... over 10 years! Now that's staying power.

"You don't have to be stoned to enjoy our stuff. But it can help."1
--Roger Waters, Rolling Stone Magazine, 4/24/03


Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most successful albums of all time -- #3, to be exact -- and for good reason, as it is perhaps one of the most mindblowing audio performances ever recorded. With amazingly rich texture and songs that blend seamlessly into each other, despite a variety of tempos and rhythms, it is a true sonorous treat. It still sells an estimated 250,000 copies each year, this after it finally fell off the Billboard Top 200 charts in 1988, 14 years after release.

Some additions and updates to the DSOTM writeups above:

* As clarification regarding the Eclipse discussion above, here is a quote from the 4/24 RS article:
"Initially, the new music was given the title Eclipse (A Piece for Assorted Lunatics), and it premiered during a series of London concerts in early 1972"2

* The "spoken parts" of the album were the responses recorded by a number of various participants, which were responses to assorted questions. One well-known participant's answers did not appear on the album, however: Paul McCartney.

* Although the album has been released in numerous versions, across a variety of mediums, there have been three major releases. The first, in 1973, is what set everything in motion. Recorded with a then state-of-the-art 16-track setup, It was released in the traditional formats of the time (vinyl, 8-track, etc.), and all future pressings came from this recording, until 1993. At this point, twenty years after the original recording, the album was re released with a slightly different cover, a more substantial CD booklet and, most importantly, in digitally remastered stereo. Finally, in 2003, to celebrate Dark Side of the Moon's 30th anniversary, it was re-released once again, this time remastered from scratch, and recorded in Dolby 5.1 surround sound. It is pressed on hybrid SACD disks, allowing listeners with capable equipment to listen to this new format, while still allowing those of us with traditional CD players to hear it as it was originally recorded. With the third release, it has also been pressed on vinyl once again.

* Regarding the cover art, the first pressing featured the simple-yet-elegant prism artwork by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, that became Floyd's trademark. The 1993 re-release featured similar artwork, whereupon Storm Thorgerson alone was commissioned. The cover is very similar, but has an opaque, rather than translucent prism. Finally, for 2003's release, the artwork was dramatically changed, with the standard "light-and-prism" motif being redone in stained glass. Again, Thorgerson was involved in this design, along with Rupert Truman.

Finally, on a subjective note, have you never heard this album before, or have you heard it and been ambivalent, be sure to listen on headphones, for a whole different experience. Finally, if you have a fully configured Dolby 5.1 system, be sure to let the rest of us know just how good it really sounds.

Updated, December 17, 2003: Well, I bought the 30th Anniversary album not too long after doing this writeup, thinking my DVD player would handle SACD. Oops. It was at that time I learned about the differences between SACD and DVD-A. In any case, I shortly bought a new player and configured my surround sound system.

The new remaster is fantastic. The voices are clearer, the Hammond Organ is deep and rich, and the effects are terrific. Most striking is the remaster of "Money", which has each of the different sounds in the beginning coming out of each individual speakers. Just amazing. If you have the capability to play the SACDs, then by all means, purchase this album!


Works Cited:
1 - "Thirty Years of Darkness" (Rolling Stone), p. 48.
2 - ibid., p. 46

Works Referenced:
"Thirty Years of Darkness", by John Harris. Rolling Stone, 4/24/03
Pink Floyd Website: Dark Side of the Moon - http://www.pinkfloyd.co.uk/dsotm/content/setup.html

There exist four different versions of "Dark Side Of The Moon". The original version is the mix that appears on the original LP, and all CDs made before 1992. In 1992, for the album's 20th anniversary, the music was remastered, and this mix has been used in all subsequent CD pressings. In 2003, for the 30th anniversary, the album was remastered again for release on a hybrid SACD. In addition, there was a Quadraphonic LP version of the album.

In addition, each remaster has seen changes to the album's famous cover. The original drawing of a prism and light was changed to a more photographic style for the 1992 release. For the 2003 version, the album cover was redone in a stained glass motif.

The differences between versions are highly noticable. In the 1992 remaster, the various voices that appear in tracks are mixed lower, making them harder to hear. On the LP version of The Great Gig In The Sky, for example, one can clearly hear "I never said I was afraid of dying", while in the 1992 remaster, the voice is barely a whisper. The 2003 version is mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound, which changes the whole sound of the recording. The sound is much less focused unless your sound system is set up right. In addition, more attention was spent bringing out little details in the sound than creaing a full sound. Furthermore, because the album was mastered from the original tapes, the sound loses a bit of power because of tape degredation.

Among Pink Floyd fans, the best mix is the Quadraphonic mix, but for average fans, it is best to stick with the 1992 remaster. It can still be found in essentially every music stores.

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