• Dark Side of the Moon 46th anniversary

    Pink Floyd’s iconic album, Dark Side of the Moon, celebrates its 46th anniversary this March.

    The album got released March 1st 1973. It charted in the US until 1988 and, depending on what list you’re looking at, it’s the fourth best selling album of all time.

    The songs had been written by Roger during Christmas 1971-72 apparently because they were tired of playing the old songs over and over.

    See the Dark Side of the Moon album guide for an in-depth run down of all the guitars, amps and pedals used for the recording and susequent tours.

    The material was rehearsed and rearranged during the 1972 tour. Listening to bootlegs from different parts of the tour gives a fascinating time line of the songs developement and progression.

    A favourite is the Rainbow, London show February 1972. It’s an early incarnation of the album, with very different versions of the songs. Later, during the Japan leg of the tour, the material start to resemble the album, although a lot is still to be worked out in the studio.

    See the Wembley Arena 1974 gear guide for an in-depth rund down of David Gilmour’s stage setup.

    Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd’s breakthrough in the States with the single Money. Columbia, the band’s US record label, was determined to break the band as they’d already had a lot of success with Meddle and several tours.

    How they eventually broke Money onto the charts and subsequently had the album charting for years, is a fascinating study of how the record industry operated back in the days. This was a time when you bought air time and chart positions. Google “Payola”.

    In this feature we’ll look at the history and details of the iconic Bill Lewis Custom guitar David used on Dark Side of the Moon.

    Dark Side of the Moon was in many ways Pink Floyd’s St Pepper. They spent a lot of time working on the material, both on the road but not least in the studio. By this time, they had free access to Abbey Road and they pretty much used whatever time they needed to experiment with new sounds and gear.

    I must admit that Dark Side is not my favourite album. Perhaps I’ve heard it too many times, I don’t know, but I think there are better albums in their catalogue. Still, you can’t deny its success and the many classic tracks.

    What I like about it is how they manage to blend different musical styles and make such a cohesive sound. It’s very different to what many other bands did at the time.

    The unique EMS Hi-Fli effect processor was used during the recording sessions and selected shows. See this feature for a full run-down of all the effects and how it was used.

    Roger’s initial demos were very much influenced by the early blues. It was stripped down, focusing on simple melodies and chords. David Gilmour’s guitars very much underlines this, adding a more contemporary Hendrix inspired feel to it.

    Wright, and to some extent Nick, adds a jazzy texture to the blues. Obviously the two genres are very much related but Rick’s piano and his jazz influences cintributes something new and a contrast to the dark blues.

    On top of that you got the harmonies and backing vocals, which adds an element of soul and rhythm and blues. To me, this is what makes the album so different and unique. It’s not only about the musical style but also the element of something very universal and human, that’s blended with the electronic and sometimes heavy sounds of the band.

    When did you first and discover Dark Side of the Moon? Do you still listen to the album? Please use the comments field below and share your memories!

18 Responsesso far.

  1. Mateusz says:

    I heard “Dark Side Of The Moon” for the first time when I was about 6 years old, 1990 or something. It was LP released by “Polskie Nagrania”. I can’t tell what was the first musical impression but I remember that sounds of “coins” and “clocks” really fascinated me. And the sound of synthesiser “flying” from one cabinet to the other (we had cabinets spread very wide in the room) during “On The Run” was my favourite part at that time. I kept on listening to it sometimes. Then, in my 20’s it became my all time favourite album. After almost 30 years I’m not bored and still listen to “DSoTM”. And I still enjoy it :) But now I cannot tell which Pink Floyd album is my favourite

  2. Adam Wallander says:

    Hi Björn!
    I just listened to the bootleg from 1972 at Hollywood Bowl. During Great Gig in the Sky, in the middle it sounds like Gilmour is playing his guitar either through the Synthi Hi Fli. Is this correct or are they just using a VCS3 for the sound?
    Regards, Adam

    • Bjorn says:

      That’s a VCS3. I haven’t found any good sources on how they did this in 1972 but David did play slide on the intro and organ on the drum/choir part on the 1973-75 live versions. On this 1972 version you can hear the Hammond, piano and VCS3 at the same time so David was definitely playing one of them.

  3. Ian oakshott says:

    I probably got into Floyd in the early 90s. The first music that meant anything to me was punk so i avoided anything i considered prog rock for years. Once i started listening i realised my mistake. Definitely in my top three floyd albums after pipers and wish you were here. Definitely my favourite guitar sounds though, although I’ve been getting into Animals lately!!

  4. Marek BILEK says:

    I could not celebrat it better than listen the first live version ever performed in 1972 at rainbow excellent experience ;)

  5. Oleg says:

    I would say the first time was when I was 14, rapidly becoming a PF addict. But some time later, when I was going to erase another compact cassette from my father’s collection and record some Floyd stuff on, I discovered Dark Side already recorded on it! So the chances are that I was listening to Dark Side since my childhood without knowing what is it:)

  6. Alan David Doane says:

    It’s 1981 and I am 15 years old, a student at Greenwich Central School in upstate New York. I am new both to this school in particular and public schools ?in general, having attended a private Baptist school in St. Augustine, Florida from the mid-1970s until near the end of that decade. I am a ninth grader starting in the middle of the school year, and everyone knows everyone else, and no one knows me. No one seems to want to. I don’t blame them. I am lost at sea in this environment, I hate all my classes, and the only relief I find in the school day is in the course I am “majoring” in (I had never associated the term with anything other than college before, and was baffled that I had to choose one in high school), art.

    The class is in a large, open room with plentiful windows looking out at the woods and grass behind the school. Art-table-like desks are arranged in a square near the outer perimeter of the room, and there are easels here and there. There’s no question that art is taught and practiced in this class, and it seems like an ideal environment in which to be creative, although I never will be, really, in this room, having no idea yet what my real creative urges are.

    One of the weird things about the art room is that it has a record player, with only one single LP. The cover is mostly black with a prism of some kind on it, and since it is the only record, someone plays it during our class almost every day. I have no idea what it is, but the music on the record, weathered and scratched though it is, is by turns jazzy, hard, paranoid, alienated, contemplative and spacey, and it speaks to me of worlds I have never before dreamed of, and perhaps even worlds that are already being born deep within myself. In Florida, I was taught that rock music was evil, the very product of Satan himself. In my art class in 1981, I don’t know exactly what I am feeling when I hear that music, and I suppose it is a kind of possession, but a divine one. Wherever that music takes me when I hear it, it’s a place I want to be. It seems at once inviting and forbidden, and I love hearing it every day in that class, in mono, on that beat-up old record player.

    In 1983, I have been out of high school for over a year. I dropped out midway through the 10th grade. I was done with art class, the only one I enjoyed, and I felt friendless and alone in the school, despite only being targeted by one bully in my year or so there. In addition, there was not a single class that I liked, I felt like I already knew almost everything they were teaching, and within a couple of months of turning 16, I officially dropped out. I am now much more immersed in rock music after receiving my own record player and a dozen or so LPs from my mom for Christmas, 1982. With no internet, no Wikipedia, and no idea yet of the existence of Rolling Stone magazine, it’s a struggle to learn about music, but I love it so much by now that I do everything I can to find out what is new, and about the history of what is not.

    It’s early summer. I am at Strawberries Records and Tapes on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. I am looking for Synchronicity by The Police, their newest (and it turns out, final) album. I choose a cassette copy after finding it in the “P” section, and, and, and —

    Suddenly I notice a mostly black cassette case, with a prism on the cover. I had totally forgotten about that album back in the art room. I pick it up and inspect it, and find out it is by a group called Pink Floyd. It is called The Dark Side of the Moon. I am deliriously happy to have found it, and take home both it and Synchronicity that day. I spend weeks listening to the Police cassette again and again as I read (for the very first of dozens of times) The Stand by Stephen King (the music and the book will forever after be inextricably linked in my mind), and I reacquaint myself with the wonders of Dark Side of the Moon.

    Fast forward to the mid-2000s. My wife and I have brought our very young children out to see a lunar eclipse on a cold Saturday night. It is perhaps five minutes away from happening when I think to call a local radio station that is airing a live, call-in request show, and ask them to play “Brain Damage/Eclipse” in time with the cosmic event that’s about to occur. My wife and I and our two kids watch the eclipse as the song, and the eclipse, unfold:

    All that you touch and all that you see
    All that you taste, all you feel

    And all that you love and all that you hate
    All you distrust, all you save

    And all that you give and all that you deal
    And all that you buy, beg, borrow or steal

    And all you create and all you destroy
    And all that you do and all that you say

    And all that you eat and everyone you meet
    And all that you slight and everyone you fight

    And all that is now and all that is gone
    And all that’s to come and everything under the sun is in tune
    But the sun is eclipsed by the moon

    ?In 2017, I am driving to work on a cold afternoon when “Brain Damage/Eclipse” comes on the radio. I remember the first time I ever heard it, in art class back in Greenwich, in 1981. On cassette tape, finally knowing who recorded it and what it was, in 1983. Playing it on my college radio station, in 1985. Hearing it play with my wife and kids, loving them with every fiber of my being and rejoicing at getting to share this song that has meant so much to me for so long, as the universe works wonders in the sky over our heads. Hearing it on my car radio as a 51 year old man whose life has changed so much since the first time he ever heard it. All these moments are still there for me. They all happen separately and together, all at once, now and forever, a multi-tracked symphony of cosmic beauty, spread out across four decades of my life, uniting the eras of my existence, spread out across eternity. ?

    • Kithara says:

      Wow…what a poem and what a beautiful life you’ve lived…DSOTM will be near you forever and ever…i really enjoyed reading this post.

      • Alan David Doane says:

        Thank you, Kithara! I edited it to present it here, as the original version was about three times as long. Glad it was of interest to you, thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

  7. Graham says:

    A little correction, the lyrics for the album was written by Roger whilst the music was written by different members of the band except for Brain Damage and Eclipse which had words and music by Roger.
    I was introduced to Dark Side by the music teacher at school who then arranged a school trip to see the Wembley arena concert in 1974.
    A fan ever since.
    I enjoy all their albums but I think Dark Side was their best collaboration.

    • Bjorn says:

      There are early demos of Roger playing acoustic guitar and singing. Those are the initial demos he wrote and presented to the band. Yes, the songs were very different at that point but he came up with the initial ideas. Much of it based on older stuff he’d laying around. Then, the band worked on it during 1972 and yes, lots of it changed with the contributions from Rick and David in particular. It was veru much a band effort but again, Roger wrote and presented what would become Dark Side to the band during christmas 1971.

  8. Rob says:

    I was 13 when it came out and blown away with the musical styles contained on the album as well as the amazing production quality. I grew to appreciate it even more as I learned to play the guitar and tackled the money and time solos. I feel blessed to have grown up in the era I did with all the amazing music generated in the early 70s.

  9. fred says:

    I first heard this album in 1974..when i was 13… in the UK it was used to demonstrate the latest HiFi units in department stores. It is still astounding for all the reasons listed above. Of course, after this, we were all in anticipation of Wish you Were Here… which I bought on the day it came out in its weird plastic sleeve…Again, it was received rapturously. Interestingly, in the gap between this and Animals, punk rock happened. When Animals came out..everything had changed. I was a keen reader of the music press at this time…and Animals more or less “limped out” rather than a big release… but its coldness really with fitted the times cut a long story short… I became a big punk rock enthusiast … and pink floyd became very “uncool”. However… 46 years later..as a guitarist then and now…. I can safely say that the solos on Time, money, Shine on, and dogs, are the most melodic and moving I have ever heard….

  10. Kithara says:

    I was born in 1971, Meddle year, and my father use to wake me Up with Money and/or Time…Those was incredibile days…still today, i think DSOTM is THE PF’s album, par excellence, without which they wouldn’t have become what they’re today…

  11. Les Helgeson says:

    I first heard the Dark Side when it was released back in 73. It’s impossible to choose only one favorite song but I’d put Eclipse and Wish You Were Here at the top. Ironically, Money was/is my least favorite from a musical standpoint although the lyrics are pretty powerful.

    Pink Floyd was one of many bands at the time with a synergy of the whole being greater than any individual alone. If I could go back in time Pink Floyd would be my first choice to see live. Thankfully we have YouTube today and I find myself watching the Last Reunion at least once a month or so. Had Comfortably Numb been created early enough to be on the Dark Side I suspect the album would still be on the charts today.

  12. piazzi says:

    I first head the album when |I was very young and ABBA and Bee Gees were so popular and to me it was like VOW!

    I| have not listened to it for a long time, maybe I should :-)

    My favorite among all Floyd albums is wish you were here which to me is timeless. I have never stopped listening it.

    a lot of Lyrics in some Floyd albums like the Final Cut or some of the Dark Side sound a bit like moaning to me nowadays (I am much older now). Most of the music and Gilmour guitar in most albums are just timeless — if someone could arrange a coherent, mainly instrumental instrumental production of Floyd music and Gilmour guitar without most of Watrers moaning, I would buy a few copies, one for me and some to gift

    Wish you were here as a whole is always fresh to me.

    But the Dark Side was the first really VOW moment for me when I was very young

  13. christophe guy says:

    I discovered the album in the late 80s, I still listen today.And I can say that this album has not aged, what a sound! I specify that I have it in cd and in vinyl of his year of release. He has not finished touching the records

  14. inkslingers1 says:

    I worked rather backwards with Pink Floyd, buying The Wall whilst a student when it was released. I loved so much about the lyrics (I was a huge lyrics fan and was searching for anyone as good as Elvis Costello for lyrics) and really loved the way Waters wrote them.

    I was a bit baffled by the the several ‘Another Brick… parts’ but put up with it. The real breakthrough for me was getting home with the album and having a chance to listen to it with headphones on a decent Hi Fi. My god I was away!

    A friend leant me a single with When the Tigers Broke Free on the B side and I was hugely moved by the arrangement, delivery and lyric. I saw the film and heard a new single on the radio; Not Now John. I didn’t really like it but bought The Final Cut anyway. Again very clever lyrics but it was generally a disappointment.

    Then the same friend who leant me the single said, “Have you heard Wish You Were Here?”. And THAT to this day remains my favourite alum. I bought it, bought Animals too thinking that MUST be the best of both worlds being released between Wish and The Wall, but I was less enamoured. So I only came to Dark Side of the Moon very late. I do really enjoy it as a full experience but must have played Wish You Were Here ten times more.

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