Dark side of the moon was not my first Pink Floyd album. That was ´Wish you were here´ in December 1975. I thought this so good, that I wanted more and asked for Dark side of the moon for my birthday a week later. It grew into a trip that I´m still on over 37 years down the road.
To start confessing, I´m not a fan of the early Pink Floyd. Syd Barrett doesn´t agree with me and the unstructured music the group made before ´Atom heart mother´ is wasted on my ears. ´Atom heart mother´, ´Meddle´ and ´Obscured by clouds´ were all target practice that led to 3,5 brilliant albums in six years´ time. To me it´s not surprising how well Pink Floyd does in the yearly Top 2000 list of Radio 2. To a lot of people my age, mostly male I guess, this music made an imprint on our existence, that is there for life.
Dark side of the moon offers adventure, avant-garde, heavenly melodies, experimentation and beautiful guitar solos by David Gilmour. All in one on two sides of dark, formerly shining, vinyl. The film 'More' shows in part the making of Dark side of the moon. The most fascinating part is that Roger Waters unpacks a box from which a new musical instrument materialises. A, then, totally new synthesizer. All through the film he's twiddling with the knobs. What is he doing? Till it becomes clear that from all this twiddling the spacy, futuristic sounding, 'On the run' is being created, purely from twiddling knobs, finding out what this piece of machinery is capable of. The production, the sound, the singing, the musicians and singers they hired to help make the album, all are impeccable. Enhancing the album to the greatest heights imaginable in music. In other words, close to what heaven must look like.
The moods that Dark side of the moon takes the listener through is fabulous. "Quiet desperation is the English way", Waters sings in 'Time', but the emotions evoked by the non-text singing of Clare Torry is not exactly quiet desperation. The intro of Rick Wright's piano playing on 'The great gig in the sky' is. The contrast between the perfectly normal piano playing and the exalted singing is so enormous and still so fitting, that I´m effected and impressed every time I hear it. The same goes for the two final songs, 'Brain damage' and 'Eclipse', that go from madness to resignation in the matter of minutes.
If we also allow for two of the best Pink Floyd songs on the album, 'Time' and 'Money' as well, it becomes clear that as far as I'm concerned Dark side of the moon is a total winner and one of the best albums ever made. 'Time' is a fairly slow song, but has this funkyness hidden deep inside of itself in the way the guitar is played by Gilmour. 'Money' is a classical monster hit, that never made the charts. The song is so good. You can wake me up to listen to it any time. It holds the first of Gilmour's classic guitar solos in which he goes all out in a few separate solos. And lets not forget the sax solo of Dick Parry.
'Money' is a, certainly for Pink Floyd standards, extremely groovy song. The start with the cash register and money sounds, is very original. Fully fitting the grove that the band lays down, jazzy, swinging, pumping. Delays on the keyboard and guitar, repeating licks. The guitar mimicking Roger Waters' voice. The driving sax solo leads up to the first guitar solo in double time, changing the groove in which Gilmour shows his blues licks and downwards runs that is a staple of his best solos. The second part is more relaxed, before the band goes into double time again for the glittering finale of the solo. Gilmour never played better than in 'Money', 'Shine on your crazy diamond' and 'Comfortably numb'.
If anything, Pink Floyd was still a band. Rick Wright delivers the beautiful, relaxed, 'Us and them'. A 'A whiter shade of pale' quality song, without Bach so prominent in it. (Just listen in the back ground!) Beautiful arpeggiated notes by Gilmour and more sax by Dick Parry. When the noise erupts, it is with so much style and class, leading the listener into a World War I scene of leaving the trenches, killing many. And the song slips back into tranquillity.
Dark side of the moon is a monument that will be there for all time. Like Beethoven's 5th or Vivaldi's 'Four seasons' and Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode'. An album full of classical influences, a stapel of symphonic rock. Too bad that after 1979 nothing anything matching came out of these four musicians. The band was clearly more than the individuals. Where several others their age have made lesser and better albums, some even masterpieces, since, Pink Floyd is left with the integral shows of Roger Waters that tour the world for three years. I'm glad I got to the the Dark side of the moon show in 2006. Maybe I should go to 'The wall' this summer, before it's too late.
You can order Dark side of the moon here