Sorry! We have moved! The new URL is: http://www.teluudailies.com/

You will be redirected to the new address in five seconds.

If you see this message for more than 5 seconds, please click on the link above!

Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released in March 1973. The concept album built on ideas explored by the band in their live shows and earlier recordings, but it lacks the extended instrumental excursions that characterised their work following the departure in 1968 of founding member, principal composer and lyricist Syd Barrett.
 The Dark Side of the Moon's themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by Barrett's deteriorating mental state.

The album was developed as part of a forthcoming tour of live performances, and was premiered several months before studio recording began. The new material was further refined during the tour and was recorded in two sessions in 1972 and 1973 at Abbey Road Studios in London. The group used some of the most advanced recording techniques of the time, including multitrack recording and tape loops. Analogue synthesisers were given prominence in several tracks, and a series of recorded interviews with staff and band personnel provided the source material for a range of philosophical quotations used throughout. Engineer Alan Parsons was directly responsible for some of the most notable sonic aspects of the album, including the non-lexical performance of Clare Torry. The album's iconic sleeve features a prism that represents the band's stage lighting, the record's lyrics, and the request for a "simple and bold" design.


The Dark Side of the Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard 200 for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, longer than any other album in history. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered by several other acts. It spawned two singles, "Money" and "Us and Them". In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

Background

Following the release of Meddle in 1971, in December the band assembled for an upcoming tour of Britain, Japan, and the United States. Rehearsing in Broadhurst Gardens in London, there was the looming prospect of a new album, although their priority at that time was the creation of new material. In a band meeting at drummer Nick Mason's home in Camden, bassist Roger Waters proposed that a new album could form part of the tour. Waters' idea was for an album that dealt with things that "make people mad", focusing on the pressures faced by the band during their arduous lifestyle, and dealing with the apparent mental problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett. The band had explored a similar idea with 1969's The Man and the Journey. In a recent interview for Rolling Stone, guitarist David Gilmour said:

...I think we all thought—and Roger definitely thought—that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect. There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific.


Generally, all four members agreed that Waters' concept of an album unified by a single theme was a good idea. Waters, Gilmour, Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright participated in the writing and production of the new material, and Waters created the early demo tracks at his Islington home in a small recording studio he had built in his garden shed.

(The Rainbow Theatre in London)

Parts of the new album were taken from previously unused material; the opening line of "Breathe" came from an earlier work by Waters and Ron Geesin, written for the soundtrack of The Body, and the basic structure of "Us and Them" was taken from a piece originally composed by Wright for the film Zabriskie Point. The band rehearsed at a warehouse in London owned by The Rolling Stones, and then at the Rainbow Theatre. They also purchased extra equipment, which included new speakers, a PA system, a 28-track mixing desk with four quadraphonic outputs, and a custom-built lighting rig. Nine tonnes of kit was transported in three lorries; this would be the first time the band had taken an entire album on tour, but it would allow them to refine and improve the new material, which by then had been given the provisional title of The Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy). However, after discovering that that title had already been used by another band, Medicine Head, it was temporarily changed to Eclipse. The new material premièred at The Dome in Brighton, on 20 January 1972, and after the commercial failure of Medicine Head's album the title was changed back to the band's original preference.

Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics, as it was then known
was performed in the presence of an assembled press on 17 February 1972—more than a year before its release—at the Rainbow Theatre, and was critically acclaimed. Michael Wale of The Times described the piece as "... bringing tears to the eyes. It was so completely understanding and musically questioning." Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote "The ambition of the Floyd's artistic intention is now vast." Melody Maker was, however, less enthusiastic: "Musically, there were some great ideas, but the sound effects often left me wondering if I was in a bird-cage at London zoo." The following tour was praised by the public. The new material was performed live, in the same order in which it would eventually be recorded, but obvious differences between the live version, and the recorded version released a year later, included the lack of synthesisers in tracks such as "On the Run", and Bible readings that were later replaced by Clare Torry's non-lexical vocables on "The Great Gig in the Sky".

The band's lengthy tour through Europe and North America gave them the opportunity to make continual improvements to the scale and quality of their performances. Studio sessions were scheduled between tour dates; rehearsals began in England on 20 January 1972, but in late February the band travelled to France and recorded music for French director Barbet Schroeder's film, La Vallée. They then performed in Japan and returned to France in March to complete work on the film. After a series of dates in North America, the band flew to London to begin recording the album, from 24 May to 25 June. More concerts in Europe and North America followed before the band returned on 9 January 1973 to complete work on the album.

Concept

The Dark Side of the Moon built upon experiments Pink Floyd had attempted in their previous live shows and recordings, but lacks the extended instrumental excursions which, according to critic David Fricke, had become characteristic of the band after founding member Syd Barrett left in 1968. Guitarist David Gilmour, Barrett's replacement, later referred to those instrumentals as "that psychedelic noodling stuff", and with Waters cited 1971's Meddle as a turning-point towards what would be realised on the album. The Dark Side of the Moon's lyrical themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, and insanity, the latter inspired in part by Barrett's deteriorating mental state; he had been the band's principal composer and lyricist. The album is notable for its use of musique concrète and conceptual, philosophical lyrics, as found in much of the band's other work.

Each side of the album is a continuous piece of music. The five tracks on each side reflect various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat, exploring the nature of the human experience, and (according to Waters) "empathy". "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" together stress the mundane and futile elements of life that accompany the ever-present threat of madness, and the importance of living one's own life—"Don't be afraid to care". By shifting the scene to an airport, the synthesiser-driven instrumental "On the Run" evokes the stress and anxiety of modern travel, in particular Wright's fear of flying. "Time" examines the manner in which its passage can control one's life and offers a stark warning to those who remain focussed on mundane aspects; it is followed by a retreat into solitude and withdrawal in "Breathe (Reprise)". The first side of the album ends with Wright and vocalist Clare Torry's soulful metaphor for death, "The Great Gig in the Sky". Opening with the sound of cash registers and loose change, the first track on side two, "Money", mocks greed and consumerism using tongue-in-cheek lyrics and cash-related sound effects ("Money" has been the most commercially successful track from the album, with several cover versions produced by other bands). "Us and Them" addresses the isolation of the depressed with the symbolism of conflict and the use of simple dichotomies to describe personal relationships. "Brain Damage" looks at a mental illness resulting from the elevation of fame and success above the needs of the self; in particular, the line "and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" reflects the mental breakdown of former band-mate Syd Barrett. The album ends with "Eclipse", which espouses the concepts of alterity and unity, while forcing the listener to recognise the common traits shared by humanity.

Recording

(The main entrance to Abbey Road Studios)

The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, in two sessions, between May 1972 and January 1973. The band were assigned staff engineer Alan Parsons, who had worked as assistant tape operator on Atom Heart Mother, and who had also gained experience as a recording engineer on The Beatles' Abbey Road and Let It Be. The recording sessions made use of some of the most advanced studio techniques of the time; the studio was capable of 16-track mixes, which offered a greater degree of flexibility than the eight- or four-track mixes they had previously used, although the band often used so many tracks that to make more space available second-generation copies were made.

Beginning on 1 June, the first track to be recorded was "Us and Them", followed six days later by "Money". Waters had created effects loops from recordings of various money-related objects, including coins thrown into a food-mixing bowl taken from his wife's pottery studio, and these were later re-recorded to take advantage of the band's decision to record a quadraphonic mix of the album (Parsons has since expressed dissatisfaction with the result of this mix, attributed to a lack of time and the paucity of available multi-track tape recorders). "Time" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" were the next pieces to be recorded, followed by a two-month break, during which the band spent time with their families and prepared for an upcoming tour of the US. The recording sessions suffered regular interruptions; Waters, a supporter of Arsenal F.C., would often break to see his team compete, and the band would occasionally stop work to watch Monty Python's Flying Circus on the television, leaving Parsons to work on material recorded up to that point. Gilmour has, however, disputed this claim; in an interview in 2003 he said: "We would sometimes watch them but when we were on a roll, we would get on."

Returning from the US in January 1973, they recorded "Brain Damage", "Eclipse", "Any Colour You Like" and "On the Run", while fine-tuning the work they had already laid down in the previous sessions. A foursome of female vocalists was assembled to sing on "Brain Damage", "Eclipse" and "Time", and saxophonist Dick Parry was booked to play on "Us and Them" and "Money". With director Adrian Maben, the band also filmed studio footage for Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. Once the recording sessions were complete, the band began a tour of Europe.

Instrumentation

(The EMS VCS 3 (Putney) synthesiser)

The album is particularly notable for the metronomic sound effects during "Speak to Me", and the tape loops that open "Money". Mason created a rough version of "Speak to Me" at his home, before completing it in the studio. The track serves as an overture and contains cross-fades of elements from other pieces on the album. A piano chord, replayed backwards, serves to augment the build-up of effects, which are immediately followed by the opening of "Breathe". Mason received a rare solo composing credit for "Speak to Me". The sound effects on "Money" were created by splicing together Waters' recordings of clinking coins, tearing paper, a ringing cash register, and a clicking adding machine, which were used to create a 7-beat effects loop (later adapted to four tracks in order to create a "walk around the room" effect in quadraphonic presentations of the album). At times the degree of sonic experimentation on the album required the engineers and band to operate the mixing console's faders simultaneously, in order to mix down the intricately assembled multitrack recordings of several of the songs (particularly "On the Run").

Along with the conventional rock band instrumentation, Pink Floyd added prominent synthesisers to their sound. For example, the band experimented with an EMS VCS 3 on "Brain Damage" and "Any Colour You Like", and a Synthi A on "Time" and "On the Run". They also devised and recorded unconventional sounds, such as an assistant engineer running around the studio's echo chamber (during "On the Run"), and a specially treated bass drum made to simulate a human heartbeat (during "Speak to Me", "On the Run", "Time", and "Eclipse"). This heartbeat is most prominent as the intro and the outro to the album, but it can also be heard sporadically on "Time", and "On the Run". The assorted clocks ticking then chiming simultaneously at the start of "Time", accompanied by a series of Rototoms, were initially created as a quadraphonic test by Parsons. The engineer recorded each timepiece at an antique clock shop, and although his recordings had not been created specifically for the album, elements of the material were eventually used in the track.

Voices

Several tracks, including "Us and Them" and "Time", demonstrate Richard Wright and David Gilmour's ability to harmonise their voices. In the 2003 documentary The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, Waters attributed this to the fact that their voices both sound extremely similar. To take advantage of this, Parsons perfected the use of studio techniques such as the doubletracking of vocals and guitars, which allowed Gilmour to harmonise with himself. Parsons also made prominent use of flanging and phase shifting effects on vocals and instruments, odd trickery with reverb, and the panning of sounds between channels (most notable in the quadraphonic mix of "On the Run", when the sound of the Hammond B3 organ played through a Leslie speaker rapidly swirls around the listener).

The album's credits include Clare Torry, a session singer and songwriter, and a regular at Abbey Road. She had worked on pop material and numerous cover albums, and after hearing one of those albums Parsons invited her to the studio to sing on "The Great Gig in the Sky". She declined this invitation as she wanted to watch Chuck Berry perform at the Hammersmith Odeon, but arranged to come in on the following Sunday. The band explained the concept behind the album, but were unable to tell her exactly what she should do. Gilmour was in charge of the session, and in a few short takes on a Sunday night Torry improvised a wordless melody to accompany Richard Wright's emotive piano solo. She was initially embarrassed by her exuberance in the recording booth, and wanted to apologise to the band—only to find them delighted with her performance. Her takes were then selectively edited to produce the version used on the track. For her contribution she was paid £30, equivalent to about £300 as of 2011, but in 2004 she sued EMI and Pink Floyd for song writing royalties, arguing that she co-wrote "The Great Gig in the Sky" with keyboardist Richard Wright. The High Court agreed with her, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. All post-2005 pressings which include "The Great Gig in the Sky" therefore credit both Wright and Torry for the song

Snippets of voices between and over the music are another notable feature of the album. During recording sessions, Waters recruited both the staff and the temporary occupants of the studio to answer a series of questions printed on flashcards. The interviewees were placed in front of a microphone in a darkened studio three, and shown such questions as "What's your favourite colour?" and "What's your favourite food?", before moving on to themes more central to the album (such as madness, violence, and death). Questions such as "When was the last time you were violent?", followed immediately by "Were you in the right?", were answered in the order they were presented. Roger "The Hat" Manifold proved difficult to find, and was the only contributor recorded in a conventional sit-down interview, as by then the flashcards had been mislaid. Waters asked him about a violent encounter he had had with another motorist, and Manifold replied "... give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock ..." When asked about death he responded "live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me ..." Another roadie, Chris Adamson, who was on tour with Pink Floyd, recorded the explicit diatribe which opens the album: "I've been mad for fucking years—absolutely years". The band's road manager Peter Watts (father of actress Naomi Watts) contributed the repeated laughter during "Brain Damage" and "Speak to Me". His second wife, Patricia 'Puddie' Watts (now Patricia Gleason), was responsible for the line about the "geezer" who was "cruisin' for a bruisin'" used in the segue between "Money" and "Us and Them", and the words "I never said I was frightened of dying" heard near the end of "The Great Gig in the Sky". Perhaps the most notable responses "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 sometime" and closing words "there is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark" came from the studios' Irish doorman, Gerry O'Driscoll. Paul and Linda McCartney were also interviewed, but their answers were judged to be "trying too hard to be funny", and were not included on the album. McCartney's band mate Henry McCullough contributed the line "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time".

Completion

Following the completion of the dialogue sessions, producer Chris Thomas was hired to provide "a fresh pair of ears". Thomas's background was in music, rather than engineering. He had worked with Beatles producer George Martin, and was acquainted with Pink Floyd's manager Steve O'Rourke. All four members of the band were engaged in a disagreement over the style of the mix, with Waters and Mason preferring a "dry" and "clean" mix which made more use of the non-musical elements, and Gilmour and Wright preferring a subtler and more "echoey" mix. Thomas later claimed there were no such disagreements, stating "There was no difference in opinion between them, I don't remember Roger once saying that he wanted less echo. In fact, there were never any hints that they were later going to fall out. It was a very creative atmosphere. A lot of fun." Although the truth remains unclear, Thomas' intervention resulted in a welcome compromise between Waters and Gilmour, leaving both entirely satisfied with the end product. Thomas was responsible for significant changes to the album, including the perfect timing of the echo used on "Us and Them". He was also present for the recording of "The Great Gig in the Sky" (although Parsons was responsible for hiring Torry). Interviewed in 2006, when asked if he felt his goals had been accomplished in the studio, Waters said:

When the record was finished I took a reel-to-reel copy home with me and I remember playing it for my wife then, and I remember her bursting into tears when it was finished. And I thought, "This has obviously struck a chord somewhere", and I was kinda pleased by that. You know when you've done something, certainly if you create a piece of music, you then hear it with fresh ears when you play it for somebody else. And at that point I thought to myself, "Wow, this is a pretty complete piece of work", and I had every confidence that people would respond to it.

Release


(A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon at Earls Court, shortly after its release in 1973.

(l-r) David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Dick Parry, Roger Waters)

As the quadrophonic mix of the album was not yet complete, the band (with the exception of Wright) boycotted the press reception held at the London Planetarium on 27 February. The guests were, instead, presented with a quartet of life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the band, and the stereo mix of the album was presented through a poor-quality public address system. Generally, however, the press were enthusiastic; Melody Maker's Roy Hollingworth described side one as "... so utterly confused with itself it was difficult to follow", but praised side two, writing: "The songs, the sounds, the rhythms were solid and sound, Saxophone hit the air, the band rocked and rolled, and then gushed and tripped away into the night." Steve Peacock of Sounds wrote: "I don't care if you've never heard a note of the Pink Floyd's music in your life, I'd unreservedly recommend everyone to The Dark Side of the Moon". In his 1973 review for Rolling Stone magazine, Lloyd Grossman declared Dark Side "a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement".

The Dark Side of the Moon was released first in the US on 10 March 1973, and then in the UK on 24 March. It became an instant chart success in Britain and throughout Western Europe; by the following month, it had gained a gold certification in the UK and US. Throughout March 1973 the band played the album as part of their US tour, including a midnight performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York on 17 March, watched by an audience of 6,000. Highlights included an aircraft launched from the back of the hall at the end of "On the Run", which 'crashed' into the stage in a cloud of orange smoke. The album reached the Billboard album chart number one spot on 28 April 1973, and was so successful that the band returned two months later for another tour.

Label

Much of the album's early State-side success is attributed to the efforts of Pink Floyd's US record company, Capitol Records. Newly appointed chairman Bhaskar Menon set about trying to reverse the relatively poor sales of the band's 1971 studio album Meddle. Meanwhile, disenchanted with Capitol, the band and manager O'Rourke had been quietly negotiating a new contract with CBS president Clive Davis, on Columbia Records. The Dark Side of the Moon was the last album that Pink Floyd were obliged to release before formally signing a new contract. Menon's enthusiasm for the new album was such that he began a huge promotional advertising campaign, which included radio-friendly truncated versions of "Us and Them" and "Time". In some countries—notably the UK—Pink Floyd had not released a single since 1968's "Point Me at the Sky", and unusually "Money" was released as a single on 7 May, with "Any Colour You Like" on the B-side. It reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1973. A two-sided white label promotional version of the single, with mono and stereo mixes, was sent to radio stations. The mono side had the word "bullshit" removed from the song—leaving "bull" in its place—however, the stereo side retained the uncensored version. This was subsequently withdrawn; the replacement was sent to radio stations with a note advising disc jockeys to dispose of the first uncensored copy. On 4 February 1974, a double A-side single was released with "Time" on one side, and "Us and Them" on the opposite side. Menon's efforts to secure a contract renewal with Pink Floyd were in vain however; at the beginning of 1974, the band signed for Columbia with a reported advance fee of $1M (in Britain and Europe they continued to be represented by Harvest Records).

Sales

The Dark Side of the Moon became one of the best-selling albums of all time, (not counting compilations and various artists soundtracks), and is in the top 25 of a list of best selling albums in the United States. Although it held the number one spot in the US for only a week, it remained in the Billboard 200 for 741 weeks. The album re-appeared on the Billboard charts with the introduction of the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in May 1991, and has been a perennial feature since then. In the UK it is the sixth-best-selling album of all time.


1 comments:

Post a Comment

 

Labels

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews