Review Summary: Haters are going to hate, but the Flaming Lips deliver an intriguing take on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
When the Flaming Lips announced that they would cover Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” I felt that the Flaming Lips had put themselves in a lose-lose situation. If their version was too similar to the original, we would be hearing criticism that the Flaming Lips did not approach the cover creatively enough. On the contrary, giving “Dark Side of the Moon” an entirely different sound would result in criticism such as, “they ruined it.” This predicament is especially present in covering “Dark Side of the Moon,” for the original is plain and simple one of the greatest albums of all-time. Despite releasing breakthrough record “Meddle” in 1971, Pink Floyd made a lasting and powerful impression on the world with “Dark Side of the Moon;” an album that we may not see the likes of ever again. This record may have been the most significant and greatest of a generation, and it’s no wonder that the release is still being glorified and revered in the present day. So, it can be said that the Lips had a bit of a job to do and a decision to make.
The Flaming Lips have proved to be one of the most intriguing and innovative bands of the past two decades, ranging from a soothing psychedelic pop to a creative, and quite frankly strange yet brilliant psychedelic mess. In terms of originality, the Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd are very similar; each delivering enough ground-breaking material to separate themselves from their peers. This is, precisely what makes this cover attempt so fascinating. The question facing the Lips now would be, what sound should be adopted for “Dark Side of the Moon?” A sound not unlike the Flaming Lips’ “The Soft Bulletin” would definitely be a viable option, for its dreamy and uplifting feel could prove to be perfect for “Dark Side of the Moon.” On the other hand, the band could opt to deliver a performance not unlike this year’s “Embryonic.” An “Embryonic”- type sound would make for a raw and noisy cover that would be interesting in its own way.
With those options in place, the listener is able to discover exactly what the Lips were going for from the very beginning. Following the heartbeat and scream in the opening seconds of the record, just when you are expecting the relaxing entrance of Breathe
, a loud and purely psychedelic start is what is implemented. The Flaming Lips version of “Dark Side of the Moon” is indeed a very intriguing experience, which wavers greatly from the original. This type of style, although seemingly out of place for this particular record, is perfectly suited for tracks like On the Run
. Just like the Pink Floyd development, the Flaming Lips account of On the Run
is noisy, bizarre, and creative. The Lips seemed to go about the rest of the record in similar fashion, for instrumental Any Colour You Like
is one of the highlights. Any Colour You Like
comes off as a thunderous adaptation of the original that lacks neither the instrumental genius nor the power of the Floyd version. One of the most conflicting areas of the record is that of the Time
and The Great Gig in the Sky
tandem. The Lips flex their muscles with Time
, providing a distorted and tumultuous introduction, and even offering comic relief by making coughing sounds. On top of this, the Lips are able to retain the themes of the album, delivering the same raw edged sound as their account of Breathe
for Breathe Reprise
. Unlike its descendant however, Time
is quite a successful task. The beauty and masterful vocal performance of The Great Gig in the Sky
is not replicated in any form here, and is actually quite a strain on the ears. The Lips opted for a distorted vocal effect here, which is conveyed as mindless and irritating screaming.
The most soothing track on the record is that of Us and Them
, which is in essence a beautiful account to say the least. Although not growing to something greater like the original, the song in this case continues on its aerial ambience for the track’s entirety. Many will argue that the Lips version of Us and Them
lacks power, but demonstrates to be powerful in that the sound of the song comes out of nowhere on the record. As one of the most significant tracks on “Dark Side of the Moon” the Flaming Lips replicated Us and Them
with great virtuosity, which is true for the close of the record as well. Brain Damage
and especially Eclipse
are not tampered with a great deal, and although sounding a bit different than the originals, are very effective. Eclipse
serves as a brilliant close for the Lips cover of the album, retaining the raw edge of the rest of the record and delivering a powerful climax.
In retrospect of hearing the record, the impact does not live up to the influence of Pink Floyd’s version, but to expect that would be ridiculous. It may have proved to be beneficial for the Flaming Lips to mix the styles of “Embyonic” and “The Soft Bulletin” for this cover, appropriately assigning different sounds to the necessary tracks. The Lips however, had attempted an extremely complicated task, that was overall a successful endeavor.
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like