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Saturday, January 19, 2013

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW- Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

The iconic image of a light beaming towards a prism and forming a rainbow is one of the most interpretive yet meaningful metaphors of all time. Things always seem better on the other side, but are they? Messages such as this one are the reason why Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" remains one of the most timely pieces of music of all time.

It is almost stupid to bring up the band Pink Floyd because just about everyone in the world of rock and roll has heard of these iconic progressive rock pioneers. Pink Floyd, mainly comprised of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright (Plus Syd Barrett earlier on), have always been commended and remembered for their authenticity, creativity, and versatility as musicians. Throughout the late 60's and 70's, the band was releasing music with new and interesting sounds that other bands like Zeppelin, the Who, the Stones, and even the Beatles were simply unable to recreate.

However, lightning did not strike until 1973 when Pink Floyd releases "Dark Side" which was their first attempt at a concept album. A concept album is usually one that touches on moral or social ideas throughout the album. In this case, Pink Floyd crammed a myriad of ideas into this piece.

The album starts immediately with heart-beats which lead into the song "Breathe (In the Air)". The beginning of the album represents the essence of the human life. This is immediately followed by the synth based and a bit more aggressive instrumental track, "On the Run" which almost sounds like a Radiohead song. On the Run is said to represent the more mundane aspects of life that people focus on such as modern travel and working in the corporate world. This idea is then highlighted even more by the epic song, "Time" with its various alarm clock and ticking sound effects in the beginning of the song.

Next comes the outstanding vocal piece, "The Great Gig in the Sky". Though no audible words are spoken and it is rather all various yelling and moaning, the passion from vocal instrumentalist, Claire Torry is very easily felt and is almost chilling.

On the song "Money", the band shows that they can rock with the best of them. The ending jam on money is absolutely epic and all of the members of the band show how talented they are as technical musicians as well social commentators of the time. Of course, it can be easily inferred that money mainly talks about greed and power-hungry egos during the 1970's  (which is a bit relevant today as well).

I think my favorite song on Dark Side of the Moon is "Us and Them". So mellow, so peaceful, so soothing. The saxophone that leads the song into vocals is absolutely unbelievable. Speaking of which, the vocals and the lyrics from Roger Waters are top notch. I especially love the few moments where this song elevates its intensity and then sinks straight back down to the dunes of tranquility with its repetitive guitars and echoing vocals.

"Any Colour you Like" is an extraordinary instrumental piece and really helps to connect the moods of "Us and Them" and "Brain Damage". Brain Damage is mainly about mental illness and lunacy but more specifically regarding the band's former guitarist Syd Barrett and the toll that his illness took on the rest of the members. Then comes the climactic and emphatic closer, "Eclipse". Sporting some really philosophical lyrics and some really high energy music, Eclipse is essentially the perfect way to end a concept album such as this one that has so much passion. Then album once again ends with the steady beating of a heart as a sort of poetic justice that it ends right back where it started.

Of course the legendary nature of this album raised the band's fame and they went on to release two more unbelievable concept albums, "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals". However, it seemed as if Roger Waters almost got carried away around 1979 with the release of the double album "The Wall". If I'm being quite honest, this rock opera is by no means my favorite Pink Floyd in fact I don't like it as much as I did any of the previous three concept albums. This may be because Roger Waters focused it too much on himself in the form of a rock opera instead of making another concept album. I do believe that "The Wall" marked the beginning of the end for the band.

Despite all of this, don't let anything fool you. Dark Side of the Moon is one of the top 5 albums of all time in the history of music. It is iconic, it is transcendental, it is preachy, it is high energy, and at the same time it is popular! How often do you see albums like this shoved into the forefront of rock music? Not usually unless they are really powerful and send a message. Dark Side of the Moon can change you as a person as long as you listen carefully to what these men are saying. It certainly changed some of my thoughts on greed, the human life, and deception in general. All things considered, this album is a dark album but it is a harsh truth. One of the main reasons why it is a masterpiece.