Progressive rock’s seminal meditation on the meaning of life and insanity is given an expanded gloss over as Pink Floyd hit the vaults again to remind us why The Dark Side of the Moon remains a timeless and emphatic classic along with an added snapshot of the band caught live in their prime at the Empire Pool, London in 1974.
The Dark Side of the Moon found band members Rogers Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright catapulted from their cult status to mega success and saw the culmination of a grand and sonically orchestrated sound that had gradually evolved over several years.
The album saw Gilmour arrive at the characteristic guitar sound that most people came to identify with the Floyd and his finely attuned blues licks also incorporated moments of distortion that worked best when played against the often overlooked spaced out organ and delicate piano work of Wright.
Elsewhere, echoed percussion, women wailing in almost sexual ecstasy, chilling sound effects and that memorable dialogue created a soundscape that was perfectly balanced by the album’s concept and it is here that Waters excelled himself.
Concept albums had existed prior to 1973, but The Dark Side of the Moon saw the bass player provide a theme that was not only universal but has continued to fascinate and move each successive generation.
Birth, lost youth, death, wealth, poverty and the impact on the human brain if you were to ponder all of the above for just a little too long are thrown into the mix.
The words themselves have a simplistic and timeless beauty, allowing the music to breathe (excuse the pun) they differ from the more oppressive and narrative based lyrics that would come to dominate the band’s latter classic, The Wall (1979).
As relevant today as it was back then the album still seems to strike an accord on the nature of things and the all too apparent divisions in society that remain to this day.
Preaching to the converted is one thing but the real reason to dip into your pocket yet again is the concert that captures a band finally coming into their own after several years of continuous musical experimentation.
Full marks must go to the mix by Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins with a sound that is incredibly clear, warm and captures the feel of a truly great concert recording.
The band sound looser and also more relaxed with a close knit feel that is also prone to some interesting moments of improvisation with Gilmour giving an almost jazzy tinge to his guitar parts and a slightly rougher edge to his vocal.
If Breathe is loose and jazzy then On The Run seems more taut and oppressive than its recorded counterpart, the opening to Time is truly epic and the intro to The Great Gig In The Sky is a stunner.
Gilmour growls his way through Money and Wright’s touch is majestic throughout Us and Them whilst Waters adds irony aplenty to the closing Brain Damage and Eclipse.
An amazing live recording with Wish You Were Here (1975) given the same treatment in November whilst rumours abound that Animals (1977) may follow in the not so distant future.
Just to remind you of this great sound: