Dark Side Of The Moonby Eddie Delcher / 30.03.2011
We were having the best band/best album debate recently when someone said Lady Gaga’s ability to
continuously reinvent herself is unsurpassed. I decided to step in before the contents of my gut ended up all over everyones’ shoes: “What do you think about The Dark Side Of The Moon?”
Blank stares all around.
“You know by Pink Floyd?”
They looked at me, to quote Bill Hicks, like dogs shown a card trick. None of them had ever even heard of the band let alone their landmark Seventies meisterwerk which has made more money than the GDP of several developing nations.
Since its release in March 1973, The Dark Side Of The Moon has sold over 35 million copies and dawdled a record 591 consecutive weeks (that’s more than 11 years) in the Billboard 200! In 2002, 29 years after it first hit the shelves, the album still sold in the hundreds of thousands. It regularly makes it to the top of lists like “Rolling Stone’s Top 100 LPs”, “Best Albums To Have Sex To”, or “1000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.
And does it ever remain a record worth listening to. From the first bars of “Speak To Me” until the last words of “Eclipse”, the Floyd takes us on nothing less than a magical mystery tour of life itself. Gulp.
It takes in madness (“The lunatic is in my head/ You raise the blade/ You make the change/ You rearrange me ‘til I’m sane”). Materialism: (“Money so they say/ Is the root of all evil today”) and, why not, aging and death and failure: (“And then one day you find/ Ten years have got behind you/ No one told you when to run/ You missed the starting gun”). Virtuoso lyricist/bassist Roger Waters, who wrote all this at only 22, captures existence in all its wonder and meaninglessness. And that’s just the lyrics.
Musically the album still sounds immediate and vital. “Speak To Me” is a crescendo-ridden montage inspired by a heartbeat. Expansive cinematic motifs recur throughout (clocks and cash registers). We segue into “Breathe” where the heartbeat morphs into hysterical screams before everything is swept away by David Gilmour’s liquid guitar. Then the stone cold classics. “Time” has so many ringing clocks in the famous intro that music stores around the globe used to use it as a sound test for stereos. Look out for those drum rototoms and that epic wailing guitar solo. Then there’s “Money” with possibly the most immaculate bass riff in rock and an inventive 7/4 time signature.
Dark Side has the time and sense to slow things way down with the proto-dubby echo-laden “Us And Them” and the demented “Brain Damage” – a song inspired by batshit former front man Syd Barrett’s descent into mania – and the triumphant “Eclipse” which returns us full circle to a heartbeat fading out.
One of the high points is “The Great Gig In The Sky” with its orgasmic screams and cries of sheer terror. It’ll make your arm hairs stand on end or your money back. Tape loops are all over the album. Waters innovated “splicing” – cutting the actual tape in places and inserting stuff – to create sounds that “glue” the record together and give it its fractured, haunting texture so influential on later grime and dubstep.
Bits of dropped in conversation happen a lot like “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time” – funny looped responses to questions like: “When last were you violent?” or “Are you afraid of dying?” – which Waters asked everyone in the studio – including Paul McCartney and Abbey Road’s doorman Jerry Driscoll who contributed several lines to the album, including: “I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad like most of us have. It’s very hard to explain why you’re mad even if you’re not mad.” McCartney’s responses didn’t make the cut.
The only fault with this record is its length – a mere 45 minutes – but it just wouldn’t be the same with anything extra. So sit down, press play, and wait for that heart to beat again, while hoping that 40 years from now, the future young will have reacquired a taste for music. And Lady Gaga will have long been forgotten, having fatally choked in an airport lounge on her own mediocrity.