Pink Floyd’s landmark 1973 album has attained the status of the mythological, inspiring urban legends that range from ludicrous (EMI built a factory solely to churn out Dark Side CDs) to fascinating (the band used part of the profits from Dark Side to help finance Monty Python and the Holy Grail) to just plain funny (the album famously, if unintentionally, syncs up to The Wizard of Oz).
At a tidy nine tracks and 43 minutes, Dark Side may not sound like your typical magnum opus. But 35 million copies later, the album still holds a hypnotic sway. In fact, Pink Floyd is bigger than they have been in years, with an acclaimed reunion at last summer’s Live 8 concert leading, in March, to the band’s first-ever Rolling Stone cover.
So, the news that Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters will play the entire album, start to finish, during his North American tour struck rock geeks as nirvana.
Here’s a look at the tracks.
Speak to Me/Breathe (Breathe in the Air): The first half, Speak to Me, is a melange of sound effects from the rest of the album: voices, a ticking clock, a cash register, a heartlike beat. The slide guitars (Breathe) kick in around the 1:10 mark, and decades later, its languid melody still pulls weight. For proof, listen to Lucky from Radiohead’s epic, OK Computer .
On the Run: Pink Floyd ratchets up the progginess with a driving, pulsating keyboard solo that runs the length of the track.
Time: A cacophony of clock chimes kicks off Time, one of Dark Side’s many classic-rock radio mainstays. The song’s funky, head-bobbing blues beat builds to an ethereal chorus, then closes with a burning reprise of Breathe.
The Great Gig in the Sky: The vocal star of Great Gig is British studio singer Clare Torry, whose wail dominates an otherwise placid, piano-based tune.
Money: Another long-lasting radio hit, the bluesy Money is notable not just for its chinging cash machine sound effects, but also its unusual 7/4 time signature. Just try keeping the beat on your own.
Us and Them : Dark Side ’s longest track is a jazzy reflection on violence that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Billy Joel record. It was composed by keyboardist Rick Wright for a film that incorporated footage of student riots at UCLA, but the director ultimately thought the song didn’t work.
Any Colour You Like: Another synth-laden instrumental whose noodly guitar solos, like those of the Grateful Dead, sound like precursors to modern jam-bands.
Brain Damage: The trippy, glistening ode to founding singer Syd Barrett, whose mental instability led to his ouster from the band, is the song that gave Dark Side its title: “I’ll see you,” Waters sings, “on the dark side of the moon.”
Eclipse: The album’s torch-song finale burns to a close with a single lyric spoken over a fading heartbeat: “There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”
The New York Times