Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When Music Mattered: Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon"

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios and officially released on March 1, 1973. Back in the classic rock era, bands were able to tour with their new material before they recorded it because bootlegging was a lot more difficult in the 60s and 70s. The effects of being able to fine tune the material for Dark Side are evident in songs like The Great Gig in the Sky, which didn't have its iconic female voice added until after the band played the song at several gigs and agreed that what they had was not working.

The album is Roger Waters' statement about the divisions people find in life, and it was also the last record that the band wrote as a cohesive unit. The tremendous success of Dark Side completely changed the dynamic within the group as Roger Waters became the dominant figure in the studio, and on stage. This album stands as the culmination of the years the band had spent together, and it began the band's unwavering fascination with the downfall of its founder, Syd Barrett.

Most people don't realize the kind of work and coordination that went into making an album like Dark Side in the era before computers had taken the soul out of recording music. For example, the clocks in the beginning of the song Time were tOn The Run was the result of layers and layers of synthesizers played by Roger Waters. All of it was done by hand, and no computers were involved.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
he result of hours spent setting up real clocks in the studio and placing microphones until they got the right sound. When it came time to get the final take, the members of the band had to trigger the clocks individually at the direction of engineer Alan Parsons. The piece

Dark Side also has little known facts that make the overall production more interesting. There is a collection of outtakes and deleted music from the Dark Side sessions that were featured in Pink Floyd's movie Live: At Pompeii. David Gilmour actually played several of the bass parts that Roger Waters felt Gilmour was more qualified to play. These little tidbits help to give a fuller picture of how the band worked, and why Dark Side was truly a group effort.

Roger Waters has been quoted as saying that Dark Side remains a success because it connects with people at several emotional levels. Marketing experts work for years to affect an audience like that, and it was a skill that Waters continued to master his entire career. The album was used by stereo stores for years to show off what a stereo could do, and I would imagine that it is still used to show off the newest vinyl record players in stores around the world.

Many musicians in the classic rock era would say that they have not written their Sgt. Pepper's yet when referring to the idea that they have still not written the best album they are capable of. I have always said that a band has not written its Dark Side of the Moon when referring to the same idea. Why? Because Dark Side of the Moon, to me, is simply the greatest rock album ever written.

Rating: 5 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fan who loves listening to classic rock. You can follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at He'll see you on the dark side of the moon.