More than 45 million copies sold, over 18 years on the charts, and often considered the greatest album of all time, Pink Floyd’s 1973 classic Dark Side of the Moon has not only passed the test of time, but rather mastered it. Many consider it the greatest studio album to ever be released, and it is one of the most influential albums of all time. All that being said, when you take away the legacy it created for itself, how good is the album really?
The only track on the A-side that really justifies the album’s status is “Time.” The verses especially have great power in the vocals and are lyrically very strong — “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day / fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.” Even though “The Great Gig in the Sky” (a beloved song by fans) starts off well, featured singer Clare Torry’s vocals eventually become repetitive and annoying, and simply make you turn over the record sooner.
The B-side of Dark Side of the Moon is where things start to pick up. “Money” is a classic 7/4 blues rocker that has stayed a radio staple for decades on end. The bass is great, the sax solo is great, and the guitar work is great. The best song on the album by far.
The second side also contains a duo of songs that definitely guided the album’s engineer, Alan Parsons, when he went on to form his own group. “Us and Them” and “Brain Damage” are both decent tracks that have great sounding choruses with nice harmonies, but can sometimes lose you in the verses.
Two standout tracks late in the album are “Any Colour You Like” and the album’s closer, “Eclipse.” Both draw a lot of influence from symphonic prog of the early seventies — King Crimson or Emerson, Lake and Palmer — due to the heavy keyboard usage. The downside is that neither reaches even four minutes in length, making them short-lived gems.
Conceptually, the album deals with the “dark side” of life: greed, illness, time, and death. The illness part was inspired heavily by the health of former member Syd Barrett, which would be done on their next album, Wish You Were Here (1975), on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
In the end, a very large part of Dark Side of the Moon‘s long-time success is due to its legacy and various nostalgic factors, but not necessarily the actual music. In fact, many Pink Floyd fans prefer some of their later works, such as Wish You Were Here (1975) or Animals (1977). It has its moments, but ultimately doesn’t hold up to its reputation.
Overall rating: 6/10