Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON REVISITED


I mentioned recently that I was re-playing some of my old vinyl with the intent of seeing which had held up over the years, there were several that had and one that I really liked back in the early '70's when I bought it was 'Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, it's held up and I've recently played it at least a dozen times. In addition I've read the book 'Dark Side of the Moon- the making of the Pink Floyd masterpiece by John Harris, a very interesting and informative read. In addition I've played all the PF albums I own plus I've watched the Earls Court video of Dark Side a couple of times.
In the 60's I was very interested in electronic music and specifically in synthesizers and new recording technology so when PF came along I was ready, I bought several albums but it wasn't until this one that I was really impressed, I thought that most of their prior music was lacking something and I now think that something was Syd Barrett. After he left the group they floundered for a couple of years not knowing quite where to go until in Dec. 1971 when Roger Waters took charge and came up with the Dark Side concept which they accepted and developed and played on the road regularly, refining it as they went. They were also in and out of the studio, Abbey Road, throughout 1972 laying tracks and adding new ideas, like the jazz sax of their old friend from Cambridge, Dick Parry and the vocal trio of female voices. Finally it was done and it was released in 1973, I bought it immediately and thought it was wonderful, a fabulous mix of rock, jazz, electronics and with lots of synths, the best thing they'd ever done. Very slick and clean, beautifully recorded and mixed, the electronics blended into the whole in ways far beyond what the prior synth albums had done; it was an original piece of music that set the standards for years to come. All those road trips where they kept testing and changing it paid off.
An interesting side issue: in 1969 I was in England during the summer and one night fairly late there was a BBC program about an electronic musician and it showed him working in his studio in what looked like a garden shed. His name was Ron Geesin and he was working on a film soundtrack. The film was titled 'The Body' and he mentioned that the soundtrack was being released on an album. As soon as I arrived back in LA I went to a record store to see if it was likely to be available, they said they'd order it: it came in several weeks later. It's a co-production between Geesin and Roger Waters and I'll play a couple of tracks here and you'll see where some of Dark Side's music originated. I liked it from the start but didn't realise the connection until I started playing Dark Side again recently.
Spotty doesn't have any Pink Floyd so we'll go with Podbean, here's three cuts from Dark Side and a couple from 'The Body'. Hope this is a more popular selection than Pet Sounds was. I'm also interested in how many heard it in 1973 when it was first released versus those who first heard it much later.

37 comments:

DsD said...

I like your thinking here, goneforeign, but I'm too tired now. Will listen to my CD tomorrow with, um, new ears, and tell you my thoughts from both then and now.

Shoey said...

**Lost for words**

ejaydee said...

Well i didn't get to hear it in 1973, but like most other "greatest albums", I'm now able to pick out a bunch of individual songs I like, in this case: Breathe In The air, Great Gig In The Sky, Money.

I'll put it in the dropbox so others can listen to it in full.

goneforeign said...

Thanks Ejay.

Japanther said...

Ejay - I was just going to request someone do that!

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (on gatefold vinyl) is the only record i've ever given away because I thought it was so rubbish!
But, there's nothing I like better than proving myself wrong about a band/person/concept etc so will gladly give Dark Side... a full listen with an open mind.

CaroleBristol said...

I first heard DSOTM live, while it was still being developed and it was being called Eclipse at the time.

It was at the Finsbury Park Rainbow Theatre in February 1972.

It was DSOTM without some of the things we take for granted,; no sax solos, no girl singers, a different ending etc.

They were touring Meddle at the time, but Eclipse was the whole first half of the show, followed by One of these days, Careful with that Axe, Eugene, Echoes, Set the Controls, saucerful of Secrets etc.

I remember the gig as being amazing, the sound was excellent. I think there are torrents of it available for downloading.

CaroleBristol said...

@Japanther - 100% agree about The Wall utter tosh, except for Comfortably Numb.

SatanKidneyPie said...

Thanks for this gf. I've never really listened to any Floyd, but I'll give this a go...

goneforeign said...

Carole: Everything you say fits exactly with the book I mentioned, you should read it, I think you'd love it.
Panther: Agreed, in fact having listened to much of their stuff recently I think this is the only 'masterpiece'. It still continues to sell thousands weekly, they all became millionaires off it but the internal problems were never resolved and they produced nothing of merit after. Like millions of others I bought 'Wish you were here' based on the success of Darkside but it's just not there, it's ok, but that's all: it even outsold Darkside!

goneforeign said...

A ps: When they say 'Wish you were here' it's obvious who they're talking to, it's Syd Barrett, I think he was the creative inspiration in the group, they just got lucky with Darkside.

CaroleBristol said...

Actually, going back to the period after Syd left and before Atom Heart Mother the Floyd had already tried to link their music thematically. They had a concept called The Man and The Journey, where they took loads of pieces they had recorded on various albums, mainly from More, Ummagumma and bits of A saucerful of secrets and linked them into this idea of a journey, perhaps a kind of Pilgrim's Progress.

It was as follows;

PART ONE: THE MAN (representing a day in the life of a man)
Daybreak (”Grantchester Meadows”)
Work (Sawing, Hammering in a I fashion)
[the band was served afternoon tea on stage at this point]
Afternoon (”Biding My Time”)
Doing It (instrumental) (”Grand Vizier’s Garden Party, pt. 3″)
Sleep
Nightmare (”Cymbaline”)
Daybreak (reprise)

PART TWO: THE JOURNEY
The Beginning (”Green is the Colour”)
Beset By Creatures of the Deep (”Careful with that Axe, Eugene”)
The Narrow Way (”The Narrow Way, pt. 3″)
The Pink Jungle (”Pow R Toc H”)
The Labyrinths of Auximines (”Moonhead”)
Behold the Temple of Light
The End of the Beginning (”Saucerful of Secrets” — final part)

There is an interesting Floyd site here;



Here
that has more about this.

goneforeign said...

Thanks Carole: Why didn't I think to look for a Floyd site.

nilpferd said...

As you might guess, I've never heard this.. I like the way Money starts, reminds of Coldcut style sample slicing, however the echoey sax/smoky R&B vocal style and plodding bass soon turn me off.
Us & Them is a bit too sleepy, I'm thinking seventies Bond film theme here, not a good thing.
Can't really find anything to say about the remaining tracks, very quiet, without being distinctive to my ears. There's a German phrase "Weichgespült", which sort of means what happens to clothes when you wash them with fabric softener; it best describes how I feel about this music. Sorry, I know a lot of you love it, but I can't really get into it.

Chris said...

I loved Pink Floyd when they first appeared and Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is still one of my favourites. I stuck with them for a while after Syd's departure, all the way up to Atom Heart Mother, in fact. I saw them every time they came near and do remember the type of show Carole describes. The aural effects were very advanced compared to other 'pop bands' and a lot of thought obviously went into the shows.
But then, for me, it went rather same-y and grandiose. It was probably AHM that did it, with breakfast cooking on-stage and orchestras hanging around. I stopped listening to them, apart from accidental TV and radio exposure, and didn't hear Dark Side until a couple of years ago when friends insisted I should.
I was deeply unimpressed. Most of it seemed to be built around the same two-chord riff (Emin & A7, I seem to remember) and the sound effects had lost all of their novelty since 'Bike' & co on Piper. Yes, the improvised vocals on whichever track it is are pretty amazing, but does it bear repeated playing?
I may give it another go but I don't expect it to change my mind.
BTW, I've read Nick Mason's account of the band and the overriding impression that left on me was how much of a business it all became, after the early days.

Shoey said...

1. Not sure how the best selling album of all time can possibly count as an undiscovered classic.
2. Dub Side of the Moon is much more fun.
3. Wish You Were Here is a much better album.
4. Supposedly works as a soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz.

CaroleBristol said...

There is a lot of Emin and A7 in DSOTM.

It makes it pretty easy to strum vaguely Floydy improvs with a few pedals.

Chris said...

My theory (it is mine; I own it):
They started out as a psychedelic band, sound- and sight-track to the sixties. But it was only Syd who understood and used LSD. When he used it too much and left, the others had an image (and career) to run. They did the effects and the noises but got into the idea that plonking away on two dreamy chords for a long time was 'psychedelic'.
By then, the audience had latched onto the spectacle and the excuse to have a spliff or two, but it was a business.
That sounds too harsh (something I do too often, probably) as they did some good songs after Syd: Money, and some others...

As we know Carole (and gf may disagree), there was a much better band that played psychedelic music.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ goneforeign - I had the posters on my bedroom wall back in 1973 and it's one of the few albums that I listened to then that I can still enjoy unreservedly today.

The Great Gig In The Sky sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it. I love the idea that the session singer Clare Torry improvised her vocals after just listening to the music a couple of times. It still retains an air of freshness.

I am not frightened of dying,
Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying,
There's no reason for it, you've got to go some time.


Us & Them is another gem as is Brain Damage.

As with so much music from my formative years, it's inextricably mixed up with my experiences and memories of growing up. Of course someone listening to The Great Gig In The Sky for the first time today cannot possibly feel that same way as I do about it. I have a 36 year old relationship with the track to bring to the (turn)table.

Strangely, for an album that I love so much by a band who have produced so much, I have not one single other recording of theirs in my collection. Go figure ...

CaroleBristol said...

I have to say that much as I love the Floyd, my favourite pieces by them are all before DSOTM; Echoes, Careful, Set the controls, Astronomy Dominie, Saucerful, Interstellar Overdrive, One of these days.

I love DSOTM, well at least the first part, up to Gig which is OK but not as good as what I first heard back in 1972. I fact, my memories of what I heard then makes me think that what they finally recorded wasn't as good as what they were playing live.

I have all their albums up to but not including The Wall, plus Pulse ad Division Bell and I tend to think of them as five bands; The Syd Floyd, the spacey psychedelic band, the stadium filling band, Roger's backing band and David's backing band.

These categories span the years and the albums don't necessarily slot into the categories completely.

The Floyd I love best was the Floyd that recorded the Live at Pompeii film.

I don't really think of Floyd as an English counterpart to the Dead.

There really isn't one, but for sheer improvisational ability and musicianship, King Crimson come closest, even though they are worlds apart soundwise.

Abahachi said...

Like ToffeeBoy, Pink Floyd is all so much bound up with my youth that I find it difficult to disentangle the music from a lot of very complicated memories. At the risk of interring whatever's left of any sort of coolness factor at the bottom of a very deep pit and shovelling several tons of manure of top of it, I have to say that The Wall was the first time I felt that pop lyrics could be meaningful and speak to me and work with the music to move me, and then The Final Cut brought politics in as well... Okay, bear in mind that I was young, and didn't start listening to any sort of non-classical music until I was 12 or so... The fact that I don't own any Floyd albums on cd, so can't have listened to any for at least a decade, can't take that away from me; this is all completely bound up with being a neurotic, over-educated, intense teenager (see the Wendy Cope poem 'The Concerned Adolescent' for further details), and I'm not going to deny that I still know all the lyrics by heart...

As far as DSOTM is concerned, I'm afraid my take is that it's actually less convincing than the later albums; even having got over my idolisation of The Wall, and the fact that I will never quite get over the guilt of getting a smudge of (washable!) blue ink on the cover of Mark Lucas's copy what he lent me, I would still rate Wish You Were Here, The Wall, The Final Cut and especially Animals ahead of it. Nice sounds, but so terribly sixties, if you'll forgive me for saying so...

Sorry, I've had two tiring days in Exeter, reading exam scripts, and appear to be a little tired and emotional.

gordonimmel said...

My first exposure to DSOTM was on an exchange trip to Le Mans in France when my ever-so-cool French host (aren't they all?) played me 'Money' which I wasn't too impressed with. A couple of years later my brother obtained a copy on tape which I listened to. I quite liked 'Great Gig In The Sky' but was still prepared to leave it alone.
It wasn't until University when I 'looked after' a Turkish freind's magnificent Hi-Fi whilst he went home at Summer that I finally fully appreciated it. Listening through headphones really opened it up and I would still say I love it now. I also like 'Wish You Were Here'and 'Animals' but this was their meisterwerk as far as I'm concerned.

TatankaYotanka said...

A complex band who burned brightly (rest in play Sid) and delivered the red giant of DSOTM, absolutely style over content ... can't stand it; verbal velour, acoustic artex and kommerchial kerrching ...

TonNL said...

Was 14 at that time, had just bought my first album (Lou Reed - Transformer) when I first heard DSOTM at a friends place, whilst doing our maths homework. I was quite impressed by it, my friend wasn't, he was the guy bringing the older Pink Floyd albums (Echoes, Atom Heart Mother) to school to discuss them in the music lessons. He thought DSOTM was just too slick, too song-oriented, exactly the reasons I liked it a lot more than their older stuff....

ps. best Pink Floyd album IMHO: Wish you were here

DarceysDad said...

This "listening with new ears" malarkey is just too hard!

I'm too familiar with the songs I like, and (if you'll pardon the pun) I have too much of a wall built up between me and the pieces I don't like.

I still can't see On The Run as a song; if I want something like that I'll play some Tangerine Dream. Admittedly that and Speak To Me certainly serve to chuck your listening focus around the aural space, but thirty years exposure have still not cured me of the nagging feeling that getting the best out of DSotM requires recreational drugs; something I've almost never done.

The Great Gig In The Sky is still great; I can remember to this very day when and where I was when I first heard it - a HUGE Whattheff...?! moment.

I still loathe Money with a passion, though I've never been able to articulate why. In fact, hang on ...

... just had to skip it.

I'm intrigued by (DSotM-virgin) nilpferd's description of Us & Them. I don't hear Bond-theme, but if I understand him right, I'd agree wholeheartedly with the "sleepy/Weichgespült" call, only in my book that's a good thing.

Any Colour You Like's guitar solo is still too close to Zep's No Quarter for comfort (because in a face-off I prefer the latter EVERY time).

Still like Brain Damage a lot, and Eclipse's only problem is that it's, um, eclipsed by what's come before in longer, more-realised forms.

So ... nope, don't think I've latched on to anything new here.

There still only remains one Pink Floyd album I ever play in its entirety (though I admit I haven't seen/heard Live At Pompeii for years, and think I should, really).

Methinks Shoey's comments betray a little sarcasm in his frustration at the choice, but to be honest, I agree with his points 2 & 3. Wish You Were Here is more consistently great.

The Wizard Of Oz thing? Massive urban myth. Gordon & I are friends with the (now ex-) bass player and MD of tribute band Off The Wall, and he could give you chapter and verse over this. Apart from being an interesting choice of visuals projected onto the walls of Halifax's Piece Hall during their annual summer gig, it didn't serve any purpose, and in my friend's words, "certainly wasn't worth the fee for permission to use it".

Thanks, goneforeign, but I'm afraid the only thing I've got out of this as an AotW choice is finally ripping my CD to computer to put Great Gig... on my Walkman.

Can we get back to something I've never heard of next week, please?

DsD said...

Oh, oh, hold that last thought, I'd forgotten about the songs from The Body on gf's PodBean selection.

Love, love, LOVE Give Birth To A Smile.

goneforeign said...

I posted a comment somewhere here earlier and it seems to have gone missing, it concerned a touching moment this morning so I'll repeat it, if it's floating around somewhere, my apologies for the repetition.
I took my Mac in for service and while I was waiting I noticed a handsome young lad, about 10 years old wearing a WHO T shirt. I had to speak to him, 'So you like the Who?' A shy, reserved answer ' Er, Yes', 'Any album in particular? to which he started reeling 'em off and listing all the cuts he liked, I told him I liked Baba O'Reilly and that got us stuck into some serious chat for about 10-15 mins until I was called back to the counter. As I was struggling out the door with my heavy G5 he was telling me how much he liked 'Tommy'.
I thought later how it must have looked to the others waiting, this old fart and this young lad talking gibberish about some obscure topic and seemingly understanding each other.

nilpferd said...

Bond-theme wise I suppose I was thinking of Moonraker, which I can't hear without visualizing Shirley Bassey with a huge afro in one of those slightly out of focus, glitterball shots which occurs in the opening title sequence. I get a hint of it when first the guitar and then the vocals start in Us & Them. I only listened to GF's podbean selection btw, might give the Dropbox tunes a go if I find an idle moment later in the week.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ DsD (and the rest of you) - can I put my towel down on the deckchair of next week's AOTW please?

SatanKidneyPie said...

I've had a listen (I, too, was a DSOTM virgin) and I've got to say I couldn't wait until it finished. Some bands I like will no doubt have been influenced by this album, but I didn't hear anything that stood out for me or hasn't been done better elsewhere. I am sure that in 1973 this album was very innovative and the musical historians can doubtless point out dozens of musical firsts but, to me, there was nothing original there. Sorry.

Still, I never would have listened if it had been posted as AOTW, so I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to something I never would have sought out otherwise.

DarceysDad said...

Easy Star All Stars' Dub Side Of The Moon on its way temporarily into the D-Box. I'll take it out again before RR launches tomorrow night.

I'd be really interested to hear goneforeign's view of it ...

nilpferd said...

DD- we could put up little "washing instruction" smileys as caveats for other listeners- I could put up one for that Tss- Tss- Tschh jazz drum sound as a warning for you and Chris, you could perhaps indicate when music of your choice has that Weichgespült sound, we could also have a symbol for "very much of its time", "Causes EJD to do the funky frown", etc.

DarceysDad said...

Ha! Just so long as you don't go all Tipper Gore on me nilpferd, OK?

snadfrod said...

Sorry I was away and missed this one. Broadly I have to agree with an awful lot of what DsD said - can't stand Money, love Great Gig, Breathe and Brain Damage. And I hugely prefer Wish You Were Here. It has always felt like a much more coherent statement than a 'concept' masquerading as an album.

Love On The Run, though. Cheers gf.

goneforeign said...

DsD: I'm not sure how or why but I'd never heard Dubside, I was always intrigued by the idea but not enough to anything about it, so when I started this little project I felt I must hear it. I listened on spotty to about half of two cuts and couldn't bear any more so I quit. I might give it another go when the air clears.

AliMunday said...

You know you're getting old when there are people out there who've never listened to Pink Floyd, let alone DSOTM. It's one of my favourite Floyd albums, I like 'Wish You Were Here' too and lots of individual tracks. Superb.

DarceysDad said...

Thanks for the response, gf.

Funnily enough, I wondered if you'd say something like that. Maybe Dub Side... falls between two stools.

On the one side you mention your appreciation of Dark Side's technical innovation and influence-blending. ESASs certainly don't match the breadth of that: Dark Side resembles an A-level equation, Dub Side is a sort of 1+1=2.

On the other side, your love of reggae/dub history, the players, their vision and ability to create space inside the box [sounds like Kenny Dalglish! - Ed.] means this project should have given ESASs an open goal to aim at, but somehow they contrived to miss that target too. [Aah ... sounds like Ronny Rosenthal now! - Ed.] Dub Side could've taken Dark Side loads further "out there" into twisty echo territory, but it didn't. Kind of a missed opportunity, methinks.

If I sound like I'm backtracking, I'm not. Give me a choice of either album to play through, and Dub Side gets the vote. Let me cherrypick individual tracks, and Dark Side gets two-out-of-the-top-three nods. Both albums come W-A-A-Y behind Wish You Were Here.

And now I think I'll stop digging. I don't like the look of the crumbling walls of my hole!!

goneforeign said...

DsD: I think you're on the right track, different time I might have loved Dubside but when I played it I was immersed in Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Kraftworks, Eno, and a load of other very electronically oriented stuff, my mind wasn't in the right place for dub.
I'm very pleased with the responses here and when I've woken up a bit I'll go through them again.