Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon


4.0
excellent

Review

by Med57 EMERITUS
August 16th, 2005 | 4223 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist


I think English philosopher John Stuart Mill said it best in his 1859 essay, "On Liberty", when he warned of a concept perilous to liberty called "the tyranny of the majority". Put basically, this warns of the idea that once you have the votes of a majority in the bag, to all intents and purposes the minority no longer matter, due to the simple fact that they're outnumbered. Now, if you'll excuse a seriously tenuous connection here, there's a startling resemblance between this concept and general opinions on Pink Floyd, a band that haven't needed any introduction for at least 3 decades. You see, like Nevermind is with Nirvana, and Metallica is with Metallica, the majority have effectively dictated something that's become firmly established as an objective fact. In the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 albums ever recorded, what's the top Pink Floyd album? The Dark Side Of The Moon. What's the best selling Pink Floyd album? Yep, The Dark Side Of The Moon. Which is the album that all those horrible Pink Floyd fanboys constantly insist syncs up with The Wizard Of Oz for some unknown reason? Once again, it's The Dark Side Of The Moon. In short, both critically and commercially, this album is one of the most remarkable ever. At this stage however, I think it might be worth pointing out that there's a strong case to be made for it being the worst Pink Floyd made between 1973 and 1983, with the band's three subsequent albums all being superior to it.

While this may seem like a bold statement, the facts bear it out. Taking the band's subsequent two releases, both consisted of 5 songs, centred around 10 minute + masterpieces (Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Dogs, respectively). The Wall by contrast is generally accepted as the concept album of concept albums, with a plot so intricate and yet identifiable to most listeners that the moments when the music starts dragging pass quickly purely on the strength of what the band are doing. That's not actually the case with The Dark Side Of The Moon though. The album itself takes until track 4 to really get going, after both Speak To Me and On The Run serve as songs that further the idea of the album, rather than actually being particularly likeable. In the case of On The Run in particular, it's hard to listen to it without glancing at least once at your watch to see how much longer of the seemingly endless hurtling down a tunnel sound you have left to go before the juddering crash that leads into Time. While Breathe is a good song, it's effect is lost by being sandwiched in between these 2 filler tracks, and the way that it's reprised at the end of Time is also slightly unfortunate in that it adds further support to the idea that the opening 3 songs of the album could have been better planned.

Now, it may sound here like I'm building for a full blown polemic on how this album is hideously overrated, and not deserving of anything more than an average mark. Well, that's not really the case. While the opening of the album may be weak, there are some genuinely magnificent songs here, that just about any band would have sold their soul to Satan if they were granted the ability to write them in return. The twin epics of Time and Us & Them are both masterpieces and the two stand out songs of this album, weighing in at over 6 minutes long each, featuring wonderful guitar solos, as well as a sense of drama conveyed brilliantly by the vocals (mainly sung by Dave Gilmour) that pretty much epitomises everything that's great about the album. The Great Gig In The Sky, which merges in brilliantly from Time is an absolutely gorgeous song, with Claire Torry wailing over a keyboard part that, while simple, conjures up more emotion and drama than if Pink Floyd had bottled up a storm and unleashed it as the backing music for Torry. All three of these songs are simply incredible, and would rank very highly in any list of the best music made by the band. Just below them in overall quality, but still really rather good are the ending duo of Brain Damage and Eclipse, which finalise the concept of the album, as well as having the potential to lend the Oxford Dictionary a new definition of the word "epic". On Brain Damage in particular, the manner in which the music whispers away quietly during the verses before pounding back in during the chorus, which pledges to "see you on the Dark Side Of The Moon" is prog grandeur at its very best, giving an obvious reason for the phenomenal success of the album. Similarly, Eclipse with its list-style lyrics that build until the final triumphant cry of "The sun is eclipsed by the moon" ends the album on a note that somehow leaves the listener with a sense that something deeply profound has occured, even if he can't quite say what.

And more than anything, that's what probably explains the success of this album. As Dave Gilmour put it when asked what the album was about, "It's about life, isn't it?" What's interesting about that quote is the air of uncertainty that he displays; as one of the four creators of the album, you'd expect him to have a pretty solid grasp of where they were going with it, but rather it seems as if it mutated, going beyond what the band intended into becoming an era-defining work. Certainly, the band would never be the same again after the album's release, with their next 3 albums becoming progressively more bleak as Roger Waters became increasingly dominant. While the album clearly does have a concept, including such grand ideas as money, insanity, the passage of time and eventually death, the exact way in which the listener interprets them is entirely down to him. The album was ahead of its time in that effects such as the chiming clocks at the start of Time, the cash registers in Money, and of course all the vocal samples that exist throughout the album, taken simply from people's reactions to questions asked by the band, all combining to continually keep the listener interested. However, while the technology of the time can still sound extraordinary today, at other times it fails. In addition to what has already been mentioned, Any Colour You Like is a genuine oddity, and coming after the raw power of Us And Them, it rather saps the album out of the momentum that's been building. While it's obviously hard to say what the band could have put there (and it does segue perfectly into Brain Damage), the track now sounds dated, like watching archive footage of a space walk, and realising that we've now moved on from that. Dare I say it, but even Money can drag if you're not in the right mood for it. Perhaps due to the fact that it's the one song from here that doesn't quite link into the other songs, meaning that it's capable of being properly thought of as a stand-alone song, but the saxophone solo midway through seems to not quite be in tune with the spirit of the album, and while it's a good song, it doesn't truly stand up to the best of this album.

So, what's the final conclusion? I mentioned John Stuart Mill at the start, and while his warnings of the tyranny of the majority are accurate, it's also worth remembering that the majority may not always be as bad as the "enlightened minority" like to think. The Dark Side Of The Moon has the reputation that it does for a reason. It's one of the few prog-style albums to really successfully make the jump into mainstream culture, and that's because everyone can find something to identify with here. Being honest, how many of us have thought at some point in our lives, "Why?" I'm willing to bet that we're pushing 100%. That's what this album does as well. Taking us on a journey through ourselves, pointing out our innermost fears as well as somehow hinting at something not quite definable which we are nevertheless aware of, it's always been the best starting place for Pink Floyd, and almost certainly always will be. It may not be perfect in the execution of the concept it portrays, but then again the minute that a band manages to combine the concept of this album with music that matches it to perfection, the music world may as well pack their bags and declare retirement. In the meantime we can all carry on listening to this.



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user ratings (5487)
Chart.
4.6
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
masada
August 16th 2005


2733 Comments


I love you.

Tenfold.

Iai
Emeritus
August 16th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

You reviewed this just so you could feature it, didn't you? :p

Med57
Moderator
August 16th 2005


1001 Comments


:lol: @Iai...it was actually featured before, but I think that review really sucks to be honest, so yeah, I thought someone needed to do a new one. And besides, I feel as if you're not a real mod without taking advantage of stuff from time to time anyway.

Is that the kind of thing you're meant to say around here?

something vague's comment now means this is the third review in a row in which I've been told that someone loves me, making me quite the icon. :cool:

Thanks for the comment Jom...I couldn't think how to start the review, and then an essay I'm writing for school popped into my mind. So that's where the intro's from.

Iai
Emeritus
August 16th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

OH SHIT I JUST VOTED YES AND YOU OVERTOOK ME AS #2 REVIEWER

:upset:

Knoxvillelives
August 16th 2005


342 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Holy crap

Before I say anything, this is my favourite album of all time and think it is Pink Floyd's best work, but only by a small margin (The Wall, Wish You Were Here and particularly Animals and Meddle are all perfect in their own ways).

Still I almost totally agree with everything you've written here.
For me, the summary is:
To listen to it whole is perfection, totally absorbing and well worthy of being claimed the greatest album of all time
But to just dip in and out of (which admittedly isnt the best approach to Floyd anyway), it's flawed.

Still think it deserves 5 starts tho

masada
August 16th 2005


2733 Comments


Right, just... kidding...

*shifty eyes*

Shuffle It All
August 16th 2005


121 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

one of the greatest albums ever, contains a lot of different generes, just awsome

Jawaharal
August 16th 2005


1832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review. Awesome albumThis Message Edited On 08.16.05

pulseczar
August 16th 2005


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the wall sold more than DSOTM, med57, but technicaly you're right because the only reason it's sold more is because its sales doubled for being a double album

masada
August 16th 2005


2733 Comments


Um, it sold more units, 19 million (or something like that) in all. It isn't based on how much profit it gains, but how many units were purchased.This Message Edited On 08.16.05

HeyPetray
August 16th 2005


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Although I'm a strong Floyd Enthusiast, I'll give you credit for doing a very difficult and balanced review. I agree with knox that the album needs to be listened to in it's entirety to be appreciated. I can't say I agree with you about Any Colour You Like's being a real oddity, or that it saps the energy out of the surrounding songs. To me, I've learned that to listen to an artist you need to have some level of patience and that sometimes having to "wait" through On the run really just builds the next song up even more. You could choose to skip some of your "filler" songs, and cut to the more "Rock" songs, but then you really just butcher the entire art.

I strongly suggest to all fans and critics to see the DSOTM 'making of' DVD before they really begin to give false facts about it. Come on guys, 4 stars? And how the hell did VH1 put soundgarden as a better rock band than PF???? This album is what changed rock to come and it's epic concepts hold what music lacks today.

Killtacular
August 16th 2005


1314 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I must say that there's no way The Final Cut is better than this. Or The Wall, for that matter. I love Any Colour You Like, and the only track that could've been away with is On the Run. This is in my top three Floyd albums, in order like so:

WYWH>Animals/DSotM(can't decide yet)>Meddle>And so on...

Anywho, wonderful review. I read everyword. You get a thumb.
:thumb:
I love you. :-*

Med57
Moderator
August 16th 2005


1001 Comments


the wall sold more than DSOTM, med57, but technicaly you're right because the only reason it's sold more is because its sales doubled for being a double album


I'd say I'm right because counting sales of an album twice (as the RIAA seems to do with double albums) strikes me as being kind of stupid. meh. I found the list of best selling albums ever which is quite interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_albums_%28USA%29

I'd personally place The Wall above this as well, although it's highly contentious. Thanks for the comments everyone.
This Message Edited On 08.16.05

NEDM
August 16th 2005


1113 Comments


I always wondered why you haven't reviewed this before Med.

Repor_Siwel
August 16th 2005


25 Comments


awsome review dude

Kingofdudes
August 16th 2005


294 Comments


Come on guys, 4 stars?

Pink Floyd has much better work than this. Wish You Were Here is 5 star material.


Finally a great review for this album.

DesolationRow
August 16th 2005


833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, top notch review, Med. Andrew likes.......

Time is possibly one of the greatest recordings of all time.

Iai
Emeritus
August 16th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I like how, on that best-selling albums list, they've completely missed that Songs In The Key of Life is a double album.

HeyPetray
August 17th 2005


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pink Floyd has much better work than this. Wish You Were Here is 5 star material.


I agree that WYWH is a 5 star album as well, but you gotta keep in mind the colossal success this album had. And don't forget how it jetset a lot of music to come. Anything less than a 5 doesn't do the album justice. I'm not saying this with bias either. This album defines what a classic album is and stands for. 4/5 means that 20% of it was flawed and i know many of us would argue against this. Even if I didn't like the album, I'd have the good sense to give such a goliath the credit it deserved.

Dragon_Prince
August 17th 2005


272 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Med, that list is USA only, so it isn't correct, the list changes when you put the rest of the world with it ... Dark Side Of The Moon has got second place

Very good revieuw excellent, and I love this album



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