Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20: Pink Floyd, "Dark Side Of The Moon"

Artist: Pink Floyd
Album: The Dark Side Of The Moon
Year: 1973
Label: Capitol

On very rare occasions, the majesty of an album moves beyond the band, beyond the music, and the entire record itself becomes a cultural icon. From the album cover to the sounds found on the record, to the album title itself, everything about Pink Floyd's 1973 classic, The Dark Side Of The Moon (and for the record, the first word in the proper title is, in fact, "THE"), is the absolute definition of "iconic." Countless new styles and techniques were pioneered on the album, and it remains the longest running album on the "Billboard Top 200" charts (it was on the charts for 741 weeks, and was only removed after Billboard adjusted the "way" they categorized albums. 2 years later, they changed it back, and in total, the album has been on the charts for more than 1,500 weeks). From the sales, to the sounds, to the timeless cover, everything about The Dark Side Of The Moon makes it one of the most important albums in history.

If you step back from the record, the lyrics on The Dark Side Of The Moon are easily the most uninspired and mundane that Rodger Waters ever wrote. Covering a wide range of themes, from mental illness to greed, compared to the rest of the Pink Floyd catalog, the lyrics and themes on The Dark Side Of The Moon are extremely unfocused and scattered. However, when they are combined with the mind-blowing musical textures and landscapes that the band creates, they are transformed into nothing short of stunning. The entire band handled the production duties for the record, though Alan Parsons (yes, THAT Alan Parsons) lent quite a bit of help behind the boards as well. As it usually does, the group effort pays off big time for Pink Floyd, and with each member adding his own touches to the tracks, the songs become far more complex and well rounded.

With The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd took the ideas and styles they had created on their first seven albums, and brought it all together in perfect harmony. Fusing together stellar guitar riffs, alongside strange soundbites and moody keyboards, the album took psychedelia to a whole new level. On The Dark Side Of The Moon, the band trailblazed new roads and showed the limitless applications of the synthesizer. There are so many layers within each song on the album, that it is nearly impossible to grasp them all in a single sitting. With each successive listen to The Dark Side Of The Moon, listeners discover new sounds and effects on the album that they have never heard before. The sonic landscapes that Pink Floyd creates on each track are seamlessly fused together to construct over forty minutes of uninterrupted musical bliss. The dream-like, ethereal mood runs the entire length of the record, and listeners can easily get lost within the cocoon that the band has designed.

As previously stated, compared to other Pink Floyd records, The Dark Side Of The Moon severely lacks lyrical focus. Though there are some songs that can be linked together due to theme, this is one of the new Pink Floyd records does not contain a clear concept. However, there are still moments of first-rate writing on the album, most notably on the songs "Time" and "Us And Them." Mixing traditional singing from Gilmour, Waters, and Rick Wright, along with spoken snippets and pre-recorded spoken parts, The Dark Side Of The Moon is strangely diverse in this aspect. Though due to the sounds moving around the vocals it is often hard to distinguish "who" is singing, each vocalist performs brilliantly, keeping the dreamy, spacey mood intact. All of the vocal work and lyrics are completely overshadowed by the angelic, bluesy singing found on "Great Gig In The Sky." Countless myths surround the recording of this breathtaking vocal, and it remains one of the most awe-inspiring three minutes of singing ever.

The words "Pink Floyd" or "Dark Side Of The Moon" carry with them a myriad of stereotypes and emotions. Perfectly fusing together the sounds and styles they'd created over their career, The Dark Side Of The Moon finally brought the band international success. Though the band would release other albums that would garner worldwide acclaim, The Dark Side Of The Moon remains their most commercially successful release to date. Pioneering techniques like multi-track recording, tape loops, and experimenting with early synthesizers, the influence of Pink Floyd and The Dark Side Of The Moon stretch into nearly every music genre. Beyond the word "legendary," the album itself is nearly an anomaly, as the cover art is nearly as iconic as the music contained within. Still selling the better part of 10,000 copies a week, more than forty years after its release, The Dark Side Of The Moon is undeniably one of the most significant albums in music history.

Standout tracks: "Time," "The Great Gig In The Sky," and "Us And Them."

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