Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd
Suggested by Nicholas Fitterson
Two days ago, I listened to Dark Side of the Moon. Only this version wasn’t the peerless classic by Pink Floyd. It was the track-for-track cover version by The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches.
It was my first foray ‘round the back of Neil Armstrong’s house, or at least down the street on which he lives, and if I’m honest it wasn’t particularly edifying. Having no frame of reference to border my finely-formed opinions, I gave it a underwhelming 4/10 and went about my day.
Today, it’s time to pour the Rola Cola down the sink and pick up a bottle of the real stuff, because Holidays are Comin’.
In reviewing Dark Side of the Moon, I feel the weight of expectation. As an admitted Dark Side Virgin, I’m expected to give my listen the due reverence it likely deserves. Blackout curtains, accompanying scotch, synced viewing of The Wizard of Oz, the whole kit and caboodle. Sadly, the needs of this project mean total immersion is a pipe-dream. But I did crack out the padded headphones, crossing my fingers in the hope I’d avoid interruption for fifty minutes.
The first track, Breathe, is a jarring sound collage of disparate effects such as ticking clocks, maniacal laughter, helicopters and heartbeats and screams and more. “Oh my god,” I thought to myself. “I’ve made some hideous, hideous mistake.”
Breathe (In The Air) came next, and it went a long way to assuaging my fears. It was rich, and textured, with a dreamlike vocal that’s akin to a gentle massage. “Nice,” I thought. “This is more like it.”
Then came the frankly bizarre instrumental synth-wobble dirge On The Run, and my cold sweat came on in earnest. “Whatever will I do?” I asked myself. “How can I convince everyone that Dark Side of the Moon is a pile of crap, when they obviously can’t trust the judgment of their own ears?”
At this point, I was genuinely concerned. Three tracks down, and only one of them had any merit. My public distaste for ambience and waffle was coming back to kick me in the arse. Should I lie, and complement the Emperor’s New Clothes? It’d be easy enough, just spout a host of banalities and plant a high score. I grimly weighed my options as I headed into Time.
Time was wonderful. As was The Great Gig in the Sky, and Money, and Us and Them, and my favourite Brain Damage, and and and and and. “This is an excellent album,” I thought, swaying along with the mesmeric finale Eclipse. “What the hell was I worried about?”
The Dark Side of the Moon is a genuine piece of work. It will stay with me for a while, I think. It’s still in my head now, some eight hours after I finished my listen.
Picking out individual tracks for praise feels reductive, as the album is a complete experience. As I was listening, I felt a slow dawning of realisation at the influential sounds I was consuming. It sounds strange, but this lightbulb moment actually had me thinking back to other albums and thinking “okay, so that’s what they were doing.” It’s not often an album makes you reconsider the concept of music, but Floyd have done a real number on me here.
In conclusion? 3/10, prefer the Lips version.
Joking! Dark Side of the Moon gets 9/10. I’m looking forward to my next visit.