April 24, 2014
9:33 am

Killer Classic - Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon"

Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, was released in March 1973. The suite was developed during live performances and was premiered several months before studio recording began. The new material was recorded in two sessions in 1972 and 1973 at Abbey Road Studios in London. The group used some of the most advanced recording techniques of the time, including multi-track recording and tape loops. Analogue synthesizers were given prominence in several tracks, and a series of recorded interviews with the band's road crew and others provided the philosophical quotations used throughout. Engineer Alan Parsons was directly responsible for some of the most notable sonic aspects of the album. The album's iconic sleeve features a prism that represents the band's stage lighting, the record's lyrical themes, and keyboardist Richard Wright's request for a "simple and bold" design.
The Dark Side of the Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. It spawned two singles, "Money" and "Time". In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
Following the release of Meddle in 1971, the band assembled for an upcoming tour of Britain, Japan, and the United States in December of that year. Rehearsing in Broadhurst Gardens in London, there was the looming prospect of a new album. In a band meeting at drummer Nick Mason's home in Camden, bassist Roger Waters proposed that a new album could form part of the tour. Waters' idea was for an album that dealt with things that "make people mad", focusing on the pressures faced by the band during their arduous lifestyle, and dealing with the apparent mental problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett.  In an interview for Rolling Stone, guitarist David Gilmour said:
...I think we all thought—and Roger definitely thought—that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect. There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific.
Generally, all four members agreed that Waters' concept of an album unified by a single theme was a good idea. Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright participated in the writing and production of the new material, and Waters created the early demo tracks at his Islington home in a small recording studio he had built in his garden shed. The band rehearsed at a warehouse in London owned by The Rolling Stones, and then at the Rainbow Theatre. Early on the album was provisionally called Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy). However, after discovering that that title had already been used by another band, Medicine Head, it was temporarily changed to Eclipse. The new material premièred at The Dome in Brighton, on 20 January 1972, and after the commercial failure of Medicine Head's album the title was changed back to the band's original preference.
Each side of the album is a continuous piece of music. The five tracks on each side reflect various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat, exploring the nature of the human experience, and (according to Waters) "empathy". "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" together stress the mundane and futile elements of life that accompany the ever-present threat of madness, and the importance of living one's own life—"Don't be afraid to care". By shifting the scene to an airport, the synthesiser-driven instrumental "On the Run" evokes the stress and anxiety of modern travel, in particular Wright's fear of flying. "Time" examines the manner in which its passage can control one's life and offers a stark warning to those who remain focused on mundane aspects; it is followed by a retreat into solitude and withdrawal in "Breathe (Reprise)". The first side of the album ends with Wright and vocalist Clare Torry's soulful metaphor for death, "The Great Gig in the Sky". Opening with the sound of cash registers and loose change, the first track on side two, "Money", mocks greed and consumerism using tongue-in-cheek lyrics and cash-related sound effects (ironically, "Money" has been the most commercially successful track from the album, with several cover versions produced by other bands). "Us and Them" addresses the isolation of the depressed with the symbolism of conflict and the use of simple dichotomies to describe personal relationships. "Any Colour You Like" concerns the lack of choice one has in a human society. "Brain Damage" looks at a mental illness resulting from the elevation of fame and success above the needs of the self; in particular, the line "and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" reflects the mental breakdown of former band-mate Syd Barrett. The album ends with "Eclipse", which espouses the concept of unity, while forcing the listener to recognize the common traits shared by humanity.
Several tracks, including "Us and Them" and "Time", demonstrate Richard Wright and David Gilmour's ability to harmonise their voices. In the 2003 documentary The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, Waters attributed this to the fact that their voices sound extremely similar. To take advantage of this, Parsons perfected the use of studio techniques such as the double tracking of vocals and guitars, which allowed Gilmour to harmonize with himself.
The album's credits include Clare Torry, a session singer and songwriter, and a regular at Abbey Road. She had worked on pop material and numerous cover albums, and after hearing one of those albums Parsons invited her to the studio to sing on "The Great Gig in the Sky". She declined this invitation as she wanted to watch Chuck Berry perform at the Hammersmith Odeon, but arranged to come in on the following Sunday. The band explained the concept behind the album, but were unable to tell her exactly what she should do. Gilmour was in charge of the session, and in a few short takes on a Sunday night Torry improvised a wordless melody to accompany Richard Wright's emotive piano solo. She was initially embarrassed by her exuberance in the recording booth, and wanted to apologise to the band—only to find them delighted with her performance. Her takes were then selectively edited to produce the version used on the track. In 2004 she sued EMI and Pink Floyd for song writing royalties, arguing that she co-wrote "The Great Gig in the Sky" with keyboardist Richard Wright. The High Court agreed with her, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. All post-2005 pressings therefore credit both Wright and Torry for the song.
The album was originally released in a gatefold LP sleeve designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie. Hipgnosis had designed several of the band's previous albums, with controversial results; EMI had reacted with confusion when faced with the cover designs for Atom Heart Mother and Obscured by Clouds, as they had expected to see traditional designs which included lettering and words. Designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell were able to ignore such criticism as they were employed by the band. For The Dark Side of the Moon, Richard Wright instructed them to come up with something "smarter, neater—more classy". The prism design was inspired by a photograph that Thorgerson had seen during a brainstorming session with Powell.
The artwork was created by their associate, George Hardie. Hipgnosis offered the band a choice of seven designs, but all four members agreed that the prism was by far the best. Inside the sleeve were two posters and several pyramid-themed stickers. One poster bore pictures of the band in concert, overlaid with scattered letters to form PINK FLOYD, and the other an infrared photograph of the Great Pyramids of Giza, created by Powell and Thorgerson.
The Dark Side of the Moon frequently appears on rankings of the greatest albums of all-time. In 1987, Rolling Stone listed the record 35th on its "Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years", and sixteen years later, in 2003 the album polled in 43rd position on the magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
Track listing
All lyrics written by Roger Waters. 
Side one  
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length            
1. "Speak to Me"   Mason Instrumental 1:30            
2. "Breathe"   Waters, Gilmour, Wright Gilmour 2:43            
3. "On the Run"   Gilmour, Waters Instrumental 3:36            
4. "Time" (includes "Breathe (Reprise)") Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour    Gilmour, Wright 7:01            
5. "The Great Gig in the Sky"   Wright, Clare Torry[nb 12] Clare Torry 4:36            
 
Side two  
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length            
1. "Money"   Waters Gilmour 6:22            
2. "Us and Them"   Waters, Wright Gilmour, Wright 7:46            
3. "Any Colour You Like"   Gilmour, Mason, Wright Instrumental 3:25            
4. "Brain Damage"   Waters Waters 3:48            
5. "Eclipse"   Waters Waters 2:03            
Personnel
Pink Floyd
  • David Gilmour – vocals, guitar, synthesisers and production
  • Nick Mason – percussion, tape effects and production
  • Roger Waters – bass guitar, vocals, synthesisers, tape effects and production
  • Richard Wright – keyboards, vocals, synthesisers and production
 
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Location : London
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