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.