Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

Cover of The Dark Side of the Moon, created by Storm Thorgerson

On March 1, 1973 progressive rock band Pink Floyd released what to this day is one of best selling albums worldwide. It maintained a place in the Billboard charts from 1973 to 1988; a total of 741 weeks. An estimated $50,000,000 in sales have been made on this album alone. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London and produced by Alan Parsons, The Dark Side of the Moon featured heavy analog synthesizer presence and some of the most advanced recording techniques available at the time. Such techniques included multi-track recording and tape loops.

The lyrical content of the album covers mostly philosophical topics ranging from greed, passage of time, mental illness, conflict, and death. Part of the inspiration for including mental illness was former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett, whose deteriorating mental state caused by drug use caused him to leave the band.

The Dark Side of the Moon was constructed and recorded as a suite, where each piece of music continues into the next on both sides of the record and certain musical themes recurring throughout multiple parts of the album. Part of this is due to the fact that many of the musical ideas that contributed to the album were taken from pieces of experiments the band had attempted during many of their live performances where one part would flow to the next with no pauses.

It becomes slightly difficult to dissect individual tracks from the album because it is meant to be listened to from start to finish. However, it did spawn two hit singles: Money and Time/Us and Them.

Money starts off with multiple sound effects of a cash register being opened and used over and over again. After a few seconds of this, the main riff of the song kicks in to get things going. Though written in an odd 7/8 timing, the whole song has a very strong straight up bluesy vibe to it. One of the most memorable aspects of the song is the strong soulful tenor saxophone solo provided by Dick Parry which leads into the multi-tracked guitar solo performed by guitarist David Gilmour. The lyrics themselves mock greed and modern consumerism.

Time being one of the other more notable singles from The Dark Side of the Moon is set at a fairly slow to moderate pace, but has one of the single greatest and most memorable guitar solos of David Gilmour's career. It begins with many different kinds of old fashioned clocks and alarm clocks all going off at once (which would more than likely scare the daylights out of someone who had never listened to the album before and had their volume turned up), followed by a rhythm that sounds like a clock ticking. From there an instrument build up begins and the rest of the band comes in to accompany. The lyrics discuss how time can pass in the blink of an eye; how years can get shorter as we all get older.

The Dark Side of the Moon has a few themes that bring the whole album together as a suite. For instance, it begins with a synthesized rhythm that sounds like a heartbeat and ends the album in the same way; making it almost possible to listen to the album on loop without missing a beat. Also, some of the melodies recur in certain songs such as: Speak to Me/Breath, Time, and The Great Gig in the Sky.

One of the most popular urban legends about The Dark Side of the Moon is that it was recorded as a soundtrack for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. There are rumors of certain synchronizations between the album and the film such as Dorothy balancing on a fence during the line "balanced on the biggest wave" in "Breathe" as well as Dorothy starting to run at the line "no one told you when to run" during the song "Time". Since then the band has denied any connection, but bassist Roger Waters noted that he found the idea "amusing".

Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon is nothing short of a musical masterpiece. From its seamless musical transitions to its philosophical lyrics to its impeccable composition, it is very evident why the album has left such an undeniable legacy. Many musicians to this day still derive much inspiration from the groundbreaking work laid down by Pink Floyd over 40 years ago. It accomplishes what not many artists are able to do. It is progressive in art form while still also being accessible and digestible to the mainstream. There is not a single shred of doubt that this album will still be on people's turntables, CD players, mp3 libraries, etc. for many years to come.

The Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Buy the album on Amazon:

The Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd (Full Album)

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