One of Britain’s most successful and long lived avant-garde rock bands, Pink Floyd emerged relatively unsullied from the mire of mid-Sixties British psychedelic music as early experimenters with outer space concepts. Although that phase of the band’s development was of short duration, Pink Floyd have from that time been the pop scene’s preeminent techno-rockers: four musicians with a command of electronic instruments who wield an arsenal of sound effects with authority and finesse. While Pink Floyd’s albums were hardly hot tickets in the shops, they began to attract an enormous following through their US tours. They have more recently developed a musical style capable of sustaining their dazzling and potentially overwhelming sonic wizardry.
The Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd’s ninth album and is a single extended piece rather than, a collection of songs. It seems to deal primarily with the fleetingness and depravity of human life, hardly the commonplace subject matter of rock. “Time” (“The time is gone the song is over”), “Money” (“Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie”). And “Us And Them” (“Forward he cried from the rear”) might be viewed as the keys to understanding the meaning (if indeed there is any definite meaning) of The Dark Side of the Moon.
Even though this is a concept album, a number of the cuts can stand on their own. “Time” is a fine country-tinged rocker with a powerful guitar solo by David Gilmour and “Money” is broadly and satirically played with appropriately raunchy sax playing by Dick Parry, who also contributes a wonderfully-stated, breathy solo to “Us And Them.” The non-vocal “On The Run” is a standout with footsteps racing from side to side successfully eluding any number of odd malevolent rumbles and explosions only to be killed off by the clock’s ticking that leads into “Time.” Throughout the album the band lays down a solid framework which they embellish with synthesizers, sound effects and spoken voice tapes. The sound is lush and multi-layered while remaining clear and well-structured.
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There are a few weak spots. David Gilmour’s vocals are sometimes weak and lackluster and “The Great Gig in the Sky” (which closes the first side) probably could have been shortened or dispensed with, but these are really minor quibbles. The Dark Side of the Moon is a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement. There is a certain grandeur here that exceeds mere musical melodramatics and is rarely attempted in rock. The Dark Side of the Moon has flash-the true flash that comes from the excellence of a superb performance.