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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pink Floyd

Dark Side of the Moon

Review by Gary Hill

How do you review an album like this? Really it’s one of the all time classic rock albums. It’s one of the best selling releases in history and certainly beloved by many. It’s got a lifetime of memories for so many people. Yet, we really strive to be as complete as possible at Music Street Journal. That means this must be tackled. So, here we go.

This disc represented something we’d never heard for from Pink Floyd before. It was a concept album (at least in some loose manner) and in many ways had as much in common with the psychedelic era of The Beatles as it did with anything the Floyd had created before. The lyrical concepts were dark and grand in scope yet personal (much of it inspired by the psychological breakdown of Syd Barrett). Musically it worked its way between jazz, Floydian weirdness and Beatles sounds.

I know there are plenty of people who will hate me for this, but I’d hazard to say the disc, as great as it is, is not the end all be all – not even of the Pink Floyd catalog. It is certainly an essential album. It’s just that I think the band produced better music than this at times. I wouldn’t even consider it to be perfect. For my money (please save the hate mail) “Great Gig in the Sky” goes pretty far over the top. The final tally says that in my opinion this is a great album that could have been even better with a little fine tuning. It certainly has been a little over-rated and over-played over the years.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Speak To Me/Breathe (Breathe In The Air)
While you can look at the beginning of this as an introductory bit of atmosphere and such it is much more. It serves to foreshadow what is to come. As textural musical elements swirl and struggle to coalesce bits of sound from the entire album are included here. It’s one of those things you can’t realize on the first listening. That also makes it one of those things that you discover with your further adventures on the Dark Side of the Moon. As this opening section ends they move out into a psychedelically tinged mellow motif for the first vocal section of the disc. This gets more energized here and there and shows off plenty of jazzy bits at times. This, as the rest of the disc, merges into the next number seamlessly.

On the Run
This is a keyboard driven freak out. Sound effects merge and fight with musical textures in this tripped out interlude. It has dark elements amidst what at times are pretty musical features.

The cacophony of bells and clanging that opens this as an alarm clock should wake just about anyone. In some ways we might need it to bring us back to the forefront after the psychedelic elements that preceded it. The rhythm section of the band weave an intriguing soundscape as this carries forward. On the one hand they work within the template of a ticking clock. On the other they expand upon and reinvent this texture into a powerful piece of music. The rest of the band join after a time and we’re off with a rocker that’s one of the highlights on a disc that has little weak territory. David Gilmour gives us a killer guitar solo later in the track.

The Great Gig in the Sky
The motif that leads us off here is a mellow, rather bluesy one – classic Pink Floyd, really. In many ways it feels like a continuation and variation of the sound that preceded it. We get an old-timer talking in the background. When the gospel singer wails over this it’s one of those moments that I personally regard as weak. I just think the performance goes way over the top at times and I could have lived without that portion of the disc. They work through several variations of the musical themes, but this woman just does not stop. She drops back after a time, but keeps on going, wailing even in the backdrop.
Since this was the first track of the second side of the original LP it doesn’t continue where they left off. Instead the sound of a cash register leads us off and then Roger Waters’ bass guitar enters to carry the track. This is another classic Pink Floyd track that really lives up to it. It’s always been a favorite of mine despite being one of the most played numbers on the CD.  This also includes a killer saxophone solo. It’s one of the hardest rocking jams of the disc and is just incredible.

Us And Them
A song that points up the futility and irrationality of war (and other societal woes), much of this is in the form of a slow moving, jazzy groove. They power it up for a more intense interpretation of the musical themes at points. This is another track that’s both great and thought provoking. Some of the piano work on this one is among the best on the disc. There is also a tasty saxophone solo.

Any Colour You Like
This is a killer keyboard dominated (at least in the earlier moments) instrumental that’s one of the highlights of the album. It runs through a number of changes and really feels like a continuation, further exploration, completion of “Us and Them.” That said, it moves into spacey textures and such that “Us and Them” never touched and is one of the moments of the CD that most feels like earlier Pink Floyd (Meddle in particular).

Brain Damage
The first half of this track is a stripped down, mellow ballad. There are plenty of elements that elevate this upward in terms of its arrangement, but it’s one of the simpler song structures here. It bursts out at points to a more powered up musical journey. Keyboards and deranged voices serve to link us into the closing number.

This feels, like a lot of the disc, like The Beatles meet Pink Floyd. It’s a powerful musical excursion that serves nicely to tie things up into a neat bag and close them off. There are some ambient sounds that actually end the festivities.

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