Fifty years after it was released, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon is one of the most inventive albums of all time. It remains a strong seller (over 50 million copies sold and hundreds of weeks on the charts, with occasional re-entries), a source of speculation (was it purposely synchronized with “The Wizard Of Oz?”), and a testament to the creativity of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason — the quintessential line-up of Pink Floyd.
To mark its half century, The Dark Side Of The Moon has been remastered, remixed and repackaged in a variety of configurations, including a deluxe boxset with the album on CD, vinyl, DVD and Blu-ray Disc. In addition to the 2023 remaster, there’s the original 5.1 mix, and a variety of high-resolution stereo mixes including Atmos. Topping it all off is the addition of The Dark Side Of The Moon – Live At Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974, which is available independently (on vinyl for the first time), as well as included in the boxset. As a token of a November performance from the band’s winter tour in 1974, the live set certainly lays waste the countless bootlegs that have sprung up over the years.
While the 2011 Immersion release of The Dark Side Of The Moon includes many of the same extras the 50th Anniversary boxset has, dedicated collectors and fans will undoubtedly want both for their subtle differences. Indeed, the Atmos mix alone is almost worth the price of admission for the 50th anniversary edition. For all of its hype and popularity, the core of The Dark Side Of The Moon is in its sonic execution, an otherworldly, aural collage of Pink Floyd’s interplanetary inspired style of rock dynamically intertwined with heartbeats, ticking clocks, clinking coins and random voices. It never fails to impress at huge social gatherings.
Recorded over a period of nine months at Abbey Road Studios and released in March of 1973, The Dark Side Of The Moon was the culmination of everything Pink Floyd had been attempting to tap into since 1967. After stumbling onto a distinctive formula with 1971’s Meddle and its epic centerpiece, “Echoes” — Floyd set about to renovate their avant-garde interpretations into cohesive and profound songs that ultimately resounded with universal appeal.
The Dark Side Of The Moon draws on several themes that simultaneously elongate and punctuate the plight of human folly. Waters’ astute lyrics elegantly slip in and out of the multi-layered sound effects, overlapping voices and luminous instrumentation. Like the Beatles before them, Pink Floyd took full advantage of everything that Abbey Road had to offer — from in-house frequency translators to staff engineer Alan Parsons to the studio’s doorman Jerry Driscoll, whose insightful mutterings make up the majority of the album’s spoken word fragments. Many of the songs were performed on stage by the band for almost a year before they finally took shape in the studio. Once in the studio, the album effectively took on a life of its own.
From the ascending heartbeat amidst a cacophony of dialogue and screams that erupt during “Speak To Me” and into the glistening notes and steady rhythm of “Breathe,” The Dark Side Of The Moon assumes a rather misfitting hue from the outset. The listener is whisked along during “On The Run” and bombarded by a series of fiery alarm clocks that slow the pace and set the stage before the entire band breaks into “Time.” Wright’s “The Great Gig In The Sky” is a lethal piano and slide guitar exchange pushed forward by the soulful and emotional wailing of Clare Torry.
The second half of the album begins with a barrage of cash registers and coins that continually churn as the bass line intro to “Money” kicks the band into overdrive. Things settle down for a spell during the morose “Us and Them,” only to unlatch again during “Any Colour You Like,” which conversely segues into the climatic “Brain Damage/Eclipse.” A heartbeat fades out — and we are right back where we started.
The epitome of headphone heaven for anyone willing to partake, The Dark Side Of The Moon can supposedly be found in one of every 12 homes in the U.S. alone. Ask your neighbor and he’s liable to say, “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon…”
~ Shawn Perry