Sound — 10
It is the biggest selling and possibly most famous album of all time, the prism on the cover has become a musical icon, affording it an almost mythical status and ranking it alongside all-time musical greats. Written in between 1971 and 1973 at a point where the band had already released five albums, two movie soundtracks and had a considerable effect the UK rock scene. It is a concept album based around themes of madness and delusion, probably inspired by the mental demise of Syd Barret, Pink Floyd's initial songwriter and founding member. The album revolutionised use of sound effects, synth and human voices to create a wonderfully texturous sound with a uniquely human sound. The style itself shifts from Pink Floyd's earlier staple of psychedelic pop and epic space rock and moves into a diverse mix of blues, soul, and progressive rock, combined with their classic styles to create a different sound that sounds typical of Pink Floyd yet fresh and original. 01. Speak To Me - heartbeat introduction, combines with mad samples from the rest of the album before exploding into Breathe. 02. Breathe - beautiful, pastoral ballad, Gilmour's vocals compliment delay soaked chords and soaring slide guitar, making Breathe Dark side's melodic highlight. 03. On The Run - the sound of running combined with then revolutionary synth work from Roger Waters. It is hard to hear this track with fresh ears today and is one of the few segments of Dark Side to have dated. 04. Time - a symphony of clocks introduces this Pink Floyd classic, an upbeat rock sound with great contrast between the verse and melodic section, before blending back into a reprise Breathe, surely one of the highlights from the album. It sound is in similar vein to the songs on the Obscured by clouds soundtrack, the album preceding Dark Side. 05. Great Gig In The Sky - possibly Rick Wright's best composition, his underrated piano works with both ecstatic and mournful vocals simultaneously, to create a sonic atmosphere surpassed by none. 06. Money - released as a single in the US, Money is probably the catchiest tune on Dark Side, its unique 7/4 structure and iconic moneybag intro now legendary. The stadium rock outro provides an uptempo relief from the tone of the rest of the album. 07. Us And Them - another song built around a simple piano refrain, building into an orchestral masterpiece with Water's imploring vocals establishing himself as a competent singer in Pink Floyd. 08. Any Colour You Like - a synth based interlude, it, along with On The Run are the only tracks to have aged in over thirty years. Any colour however does include some great guitar work from Gilmour and works well in the context of the album. 09. Brain Damage - for many, the highlight of Dark side of the moon, from which the title was taken "I'll see you on the Dark side of the moon." Water's paranoid vocals, sung in a Barrett like style and perpetuated with seething laughter make this a bizarre trip at the same time as a majestic rock song. 10. Eclipse - any concept album needs a big closing number and Eclipse certainly provides that. It provides an epic closure to the album despite its simple structure, both poetically and musically but provides a rousing, optimistic end to an album occasionally deemed as depressing and negative.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically the album is based around themes of madness and the pressures put on us by society. The piece was originally entitled "Eclipse: a piece for assorted lunatics" but was changed as the concept and lyrics began to develop. Previous to Dark Side of the moon the lyrics to Floyd songs were generally centred around imaginative childlike fantasy, or pondering around space-age mythology. Water's however was becoming more and more cynical with the pressures of fame and fortune and this is reflected in the Lyrics moving away from psychedelic innocence and whimsy of previous albums and onto deeper, more realistic matters.
Overall Impression — 10
Many first time listeners of Dark side will feel it is overrated, (perhaps any album that sells over 35 million copies has to be?) It contains only seven "real" songs and is possibly not even their best album. But it isn't. It just has something extra that few albums in history have had; the feeling that the album was created organically; well worked yet natural. It is so much more than just a collection of the best songs the band had written in the last few years and everything a record should be; sounding perfect in context yet alienated when standing alone. This album must be listened to in its entirety, preferably in the dark. It just doesn't work otherwise. Overall it is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Dark side of the moon a huge success in both commercial and musical senses, perhaps because it seams to transcend all the usual barriers that rock n' roll is usually faced with: class, genre, politics etc. Or possibly because the music is so well produced and for the most part relatively easy on the ears (live performances aside). Dark Side Of The Moon stands as the closest rock n' roll has come to fine art, the fact that it is still selling in vast numbers is a glimmer of hope in an otherwise increasingly dull music scene. An unlikely triumph, equally unlikely ever to be repeated.