Released 1st March 1973
As we have literally nothing but the ever expanding vortex of time stretching out in front of us for eternity, I figured that I might as well try and spend that time productively. This new feature will see me take on a different classic album every week – the twist being that it has to be an album I’ve never heard before. Starting with…
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
All the music that I love from this era; Springsteen, The Ramones, Led Zeppelin etc, was passed down to me from my Dad. While he certainly never disliked Pink Floyd, they weren’t a band that I encountered much growing up. This explains why I have never listened to The Dark Side of the Moon, despite it being routinely recognised as one of the best records ever released. I always got the impression it would be a little… dull. A bit too experimental for its own good. I was mostly wrong.
Minimalist intro track Speak to Me bleeds into the perfectly decent Breathe before the barely listenable On the Run had me questioning this whole project. Nobody really likes instrumentals do they? Not unless that instrumental is the song Hocus Pocus by Dutch weirdos Focus. No, the album doesn’t really wake up until the cacophony of alarm clocks signal the coming of Time. Now we’re talking. I have heard Time before, but I’ve never truly listened to it, and I must say, in the context of this album it is a masterpiece. A heart-wrenchingly bleak rumination on how death comes for all of us, and it is probably the highlight of the whole album.
The Great Gig in the Sky is another instrumental and it’s fine. The crescendo in the middle of the track is aces but you’d never throw it on a party. Money is arguably the most recognisable track on the album and it is also the one that perhaps fits the least into the record as a whole. The straightforward bluesy riff doesn’t really square with all the sonic experimentation bursting forth around it, but it’s still a groovy track (I’m old now, so I say things like ‘groovy track’ just as part of my general vernacular, it’s fine).
Us and Them I hadn’t heard before and it is an epic, bruising track that is another undoubted highlight in a record that too often longs for a discernible melody. Any Colour You Like is yet another instrumental, this time one that is a little forgettable, before Brain Damage rounds things off nicely with its memorable refrain ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’. As someone who loves a three minute pop song (my favourite band is Weezer for chrissakes), Dark Side of the Moon was a little hard to swallow in places, but there is no doubting its sheer scope and power.
More than anything, Dark Side of the Moon is a celebration of the album format itself. A lot of these tracks (perhaps all of them except Time and Money) simply wouldn’t really work in isolation. This is an album that demands to be listened to in its entirety. Whether that is a flaw or a strength is a conversation for another day but, ultimately, I enjoyed Dark Side of the Moon and I hope to return there again someday.