Why has Dark Side of the Moon --released in the US on March 1st, 1973--sold in such spectacular numbers--more than 35 million copies in all? Let me tack a crack at the answer:
Coming on the heels of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Apollo Missions, the album title--and its cover by Storm and Po at Hipgnosis-- promises a perfectly timed journey for the ears and the mind. The engineering of the album made it the definitive test record for new stereo systems. Pink Floyd had encapsulated everything great about progressive rock in songs that averaged just over 4 minutes in length.
Ultimately, the credit belongs to the ten songs. To the lyrics that captured something so universal that high school students and college professors, American loners and African party goers could relate.
1. Speak To Me
I've always thought that by starting Dark Side of the Moon with complete silence, Pink Floyd was testing its album buyers's abilities to gently place the needle on the record. Considering how many of them must have been blissfully stoned out of their minds, it's little wonder most used copies crackle like a bowl of Rice Krispies. Nick Mason says "Speak To Me" is an overture, "a taster of things to come", constructed from cross fading all the other pieces on the album. Peter Watts, a road manager and the father of actress Naomi Watts, can be heard laughing .
David Gilmour achieves that lush guitar sound with the help of a uni-vibe and lap steel guitar. Though it sounds pretty cool in its acoustic form as well.
3. On The Run
An instrumental that deals with the fear and pressure of travel, "On The Run" makes use of the most recent advances in synthesizers and dips into the EMI sound effects library. Floyd's road manager Roger "The Hat" Manifold is heard saying "Live for today, then gone tomorrow, That's Me".
The only song credited to all four members of Pink Floyd, "Time" begins with the sounds of clocks recorded by engineer Alan Parsons for a quad demonstration. Nick Mason does a long passage playing roto-toms before Roger Waters sings about something anyone over 30 can relate to: Time moving at a pace so quickly, people feel like they're always falling behind.
5. The Great Gig In The Sky
22 year old session singer Clare Torrey injects the entire album with passion in her performance. Nick Mason says "She was embarrassed by having let herself go so much during one of the takes and came into the control booth to apologise, only to find that everyone was delighted". Torrey was paid 30 pounds for her performance and sued Richard Wright for songwriting credits. The suit was settled in Torrey's favor for an undisclosed amount.
Side Two tomorrow....