You’ve seen the poster hanging on the wall of nearly every dorm room you’ve ever walked into. The triangular prism set in front of a black background reflecting light and shooting out a rainbow through the other side. Maybe you thought it would be cool to own the album the artwork originates from. Maybe you think it would look good in an album collection, show it off to your friends.
If you have thought this, then you need to stop here, Dark Side is not meant for you. This is not an album you buy just to have, this “Dark Side of the Moon.” It’s an album that makes an album collection whole. This is the single-malt 30-year-old Scotch of your album collection. It’s mature, sophisticated, complex, and not to be wasted on someone who has not the taste to appreciate it.
“Dark Side of the Moon” is Pink Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece. It was the album that made Pink Floyd popular to their widest audience to date and sealed their fate as rock gods. But more than that, it showed how complex and groundbreaking Pink Floyd’s music could be.
For “Dark Side of the Moon,” Pick Floyd dove headfirst into themes that no other musicians were writing about at the time. The songs touched on subjects like the passage of time, human greed, helplessness, and how often life can seem without meaning or purpose. These are complex subjects that Pink Floyd tackles and artfully presents in a way that most artists can try their entire lives and never accomplish.
It was in the early 1970’s that Roger Waters came up with the idea to create a concept album focused on the things that make people angry. It would be focused on how arduous life can be, as well as mental illness, inspired by the often-difficult mental state of Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett.
The album’s songs themselves are what make such an ambitious concept work. True to concept album form, many of the songs run together seamlessly. Side one starts with “Speak to Me” a sound collage that sets the tone of the album and builds up to the intro of “Breath (In the Air.)” A lyrically beautiful song set over wonderfully cosmic guitars chords. This song then leads into “On the Run” a fast-paced instrumental that sound like the soundtrack for running from the end of the world.
After these three songs comes “Time” perhaps the highlight of side one. It begins with the overlapping sounds of clocks and alarms, and then turns to a fascinating song about time in general. It also features some of David Gilmour’s best guitar work to date, and ends with a throwback reprise to earlier in the album. Side one ends with “The Great Gig in the Sky” which is perfectly sung by Clare Torry.
Side two opens with the sound of coins and ringing cash machines as “Money” begins. The song explores the greedy side of show business like no other before it, or sense. After this, David Gilmour delivers one of his strongest vocal performances with “Us and Them,” which is probably the best song (so far) on the already excellent second side of the album.
This is followed by “Any Colour You Like” the synth heavy song clearly shows the inspiration Pink Floyd had on any band that dared touch a synth in the 70’s and 80’s, and features some more terrific guitar work. Next comes “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” the two songs form one grand finale to the album. It is now, with these two songs, after the all the breathing, running, time, and greed we finally land on the dark side of the moon. Driven off the Earth by “lunatics on the run” it is here we find that we are just as crazy and alone on the far side of the moon as we were before we left. With cosmic guitars and overlapping melodies the destination is reached and madness reigns.
“Dark Side of the Moon” is more than an album, it is an experience. It’s more than just the songs it’s the noises, ambiance, and voices that weave through the album, creating an experience like no other. Placing the needle to this cosmic vinyl begins a journey to outer reaches of music. Where art is as black as the dark side of the Moon.
Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced in the Beatles by lookalike Billy Shears (apparently). Throughout the second half of the 1960’s there were many clues discovered leading to intense speculation. Beatles fans the world over meticulously scoured The Beatles album covers and songs to discover the truth surrounding the death of Paul McCartney. Let’s look at some of the evidence…
Magical Mystery Tour
At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, John Lennon can be heard in the runout saying ‘I buried Paul’. Some people counter this saying he’s actually saying ‘Cranberry Sauce’. If you listen carefully to the version on Anthology 2 it also sounds like ‘I’m very tall’. Have a listen yourself and make your own mind up. Strawberry Fields Forever was originally released as a single but was later available on Magical Mystery Tour.
There are a number of visual aspects to the cover and booklet within the Magical Mystery Tour EP that led to speculation. Some of them may be pretty tenuous but here goes…
The word ‘Beatles’ is spelled out using stars on the cover. If you look at this backward and think of it as numbers, you get ‘2317438’, which was said to be the number of a London mortuary. Some people claimed to have dialed the number and received a message saying “you’re getting closer”.
On the cover, there are four walrusses. Obviously, the top three are John, George, and Ringo. Paul is the black walrus as Paul is dead. This is further backed up inside the cover, in the picture where the Beatles are wearing white suits, Paul is wearing a black carnation, the rest of the band are wearing red carnations.
At the end of the song ‘I Am The Walrus’ you can hear the words “O, untimely death!”, taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear. The lyrics also confirm that ‘The Walrus Was Paul’, so there you have it!
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to ‘A Day In The Life’, he blew his mind out in a car, he didn’t notice that the lights had changed. A crowd of people stood and stared, they’d seen his face before. In ‘Lovely Rita’, he took her home, he nearly made it. In ‘Godd Morning, Good Morning’ there was nothing to do to save his life. Sgt. Pepper also introduced the world to Billy Shears.
The cover of Sgt. Pepper shows The Beatles, along with their heroes and other cultural icons stood over a grave.
On the inner gatefold of the Sgt Pepper album Paul has his back to the camera to hide his identity. This has been discussed widely as being symbolic of death.
The White Album
If you listen to Revolution No. 9 from the White Album backward you can hear ‘Turn me on, dead man… Turn me on, dead man’. The track is also decidedly creepy, with crash sounds, screaming, crying, very disturbing, especially to an audience in 1968.
The cover of Abbey Road can be interpreted as depicting a funeral procession, with each Beatle having their own role to play. John Lennon leads the pack, dressed in a white suit, as the priest. Ringo follows behind as the undertaker, dressed in black. The left-handed Paul McCartney follows behind, holding a cigarette in his right-hand, indicating that this was an imposter playing the role of Paul. Paul also doesn’t wear shoes, he doesn’t need them because he’s dead. Paul is also walking out of step with the rest of the group, right foot first. George Harrison, in his workman’s denim, completes the procession as the gravedigger.
Amazing track from Hot Chocolate referencing atomic bombs and the Jonestown massacre, with a funky laid back groove and some classic synth sounds. This performance is taken from Top of the Pops in 1979. Remarkably, this track only reached number 46. I guess people weren’t totally into there dystopian disco back then!
How can you not love a bit of Frank! Originally from 1937 and written by Rodgers and Hart for a show, this later featured in the movie My Pal Joey. It’s since been recorded countless times, but you can’t been the classic orchestration and Frank Sinatra’s laid back vocal here!
I found this curiosity amongst a box of very old records. It’s a drinks coaster advertising Idris Lemon Squash that doubles as a vinyl record. Unfortunately I don’t have a gramophone so have no way of listening to it. It name-checks ‘His Majesty’ so pre-dates Queen Elizabeth (1953). If anyone knows more about this please let me know!