Pink Floyd Recall Making ‘Magic’ on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

“There are all these assholes who, for years, have been saying, ‘Oh, you know, The Dark Side of the Moon absolute in sync with Wizard of Oz.’ And you know what? No, it’s damned no!

True to form, Roger Waters, the bassist and lead lyricist of Pink Floyd until the mid-1980s, has an in-depth view of that particular urban legend. However, like “Paul is dead‘ rumors faced by the Beatles in the late ’60s, Waters once admitted to me — at a Manhattan recording studio a few years ago, after our conversation turned to the subject. The Dark Side of the Moon—that it is a badge of honor for his former band’s landmark album to hold such a noble place in popular culture that it has spawned such an extravagant conspiracy theory.

However, Waters didn’t want to give up even an inch: “Even if it did,” he said bluntly, “it has nothing to do with the music.”

Pink Floyd’s The dark side of the moon, who turns 50 this month, is the granddaddy of all classic rock albums. It is the best-selling English album ever and the third best-selling album of all time—after Michael Jackson Splash and AC/DC back in black—with nearly 60 million copies worldwide and streaming numbers, across all clear, relevant demographics. It was also the album that brought Pink Floyd—a band that had never sold more than 250,000 copies of any previous, psychedelic/prog-tinged album—into the rock ‘n’ roll stratosphere, forever changing lives. Life of Waters, guitarist David Gilmour, keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason.

“These days, I guess you have to be in the right mood to listen to an entire album,” Gilmour mused when we last spoke, a few years ago, about dark sideProbably the best and most authentic concept album. “But there are still a lot of people who like to listen to music that way. Listen to the whole content, an entire paragraph, throughout and really get into the mood of the whole content rather than listening to shorter passages. dark side is for them, really.

With that in mind, Sony Legacy has released a beautiful new box set This week celebrates the album’s 50th birthday. And while it doesn’t include anything really new, the album—once an LP shipped to high-end HiFi stores to demonstrate what a great stereo system can do—listen ever better. However, highlights include the Atmos mix that surpasses any previous surround sound mixes by dark side over the years—from Quad ’74 mixes to SACD ’03 surround mixes and more recent 5.1 mixes from excellence soak version released in 2011—as well as a live performance of dark side from London’s Wembley Arena during the band’s 1974 tour.

“I think for any band, but especially for a band our age, the concept of our content that appeals to a younger audience is the best response you can get. get,” Mason said as I pointed out the healthy streaming numbers Pink Floyd enjoys. this day. “It’s important to have some relevance to the younger audience. But in the end, you feel responsible, like you don’t want to ruin your reputation by bringing up something you just can’t stand still.”

When I asked about the rich, full sound of the surround sound mixes of dark side, Mason explains, “We were definitely students who learned to sound right in those early days at Abbey Road.” He also credits engineer Alan Parsons as well as Chris Thomas, who, like Parsons, worked with The Beatles and helped in the final stages of production and mixing to get dark side cross the finish line.

“We’ve been working hard on these,” added Andy Jackson, a longtime Pink Floyd internal engineer. “Avid fans heard the Wembley performance in 1974. We used a different source and it never sounded so good before. We spent a lot of time on it.

He continued: “The sounds they put out were amazing. “But something is a little out of place and I hope the Wembley concert will show that Pink Floyd is a great artist. [live] band.”

But perhaps what stands out about dark side What remains most in the public consciousness after half a century is how much soul the band has encapsulated in 43 minutes. After years on the album-tour-album reels, Mason recalls that it was with “Echoes,” the 23-minute second-side track of 1971. intervention, where the band finally found a way forward and escaped from its initial hallucinogenic thoughts. Without that track, dark side may never happen.

“In the early days, Syd was the leader and the driving force,” Mason recalls Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968, a victim of drug use and untreated mental health problems. treat. “We struggled after that. But with ‘Echo’ we found a sound that sounded like something new. all kinds dark sidethe way it’s structured, it’s put together, completely different from the previous ones, with opportunities to improvise, etc.

“If it weren’t for The Beatles, we wouldn’t be here today, because Master Sergeant Pepper became the first album to outsell a single,” added Gilmour. “Since then, it’s been a springboard for all the artists of our generation who made albums instead of constantly trying to make hit singles.”

“And, of course, with dark side, Roger really stepped up,” Mason said of the man who is today often seen as the villain in the Pink Floyd story — even though he was the main idea behind the album. “It starts with the concept of the pressures of modern life, like travel, money, time and death. In the end, Roger put it all together as a meditation on madness.”

“The ideas are mine. The lyrics are mine,” Waters, as formal, told me bluntly.

While technically correct, perhaps, dark side also the most collaboration of Pink Floyd.

“There is no leader,” Alan Parsons told me. “Roger and David worked side by side, encouraging each other. And Rick and Nick are important; very big tool. There is no ego beyond the occasional disagreement over how to make a particular piece of music or sound the best it can be.

“That’s just what we did,” Mason agreed. “That miracle happened. None of us can understand it. And we can’t recreate it with different people. When we played together, we created something that we didn’t really understand but that worked extremely well.”

Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson, the author (and sometimes Floyd’s lyricist), had a more mixed taste for the band’s collaborative spirit.

“I remember thinking at the time [the 2005 benefit concert] Live 8 that there’s nothing better than being in the room with David, Rick, Nick and Roger,” she recalls. “It’s awkward. You’re with these four men, they don’t speak, there are awkward silences, and the next thing you know they’re walking on stage and speaking eloquently through their instruments. There’s a real difference between the incredible articulation they have with the music they don’t have in their relationships at all. That night at Live 8, it really struck me, that terrible awkwardness.

Is the easy-going middleman in the often cold (although it’s hot right now) the war between Waters and Gilmour — which has raged violently since the mid-1980s when the classic Pink Floyd group split — Mason has a more banal view of things.

Mason recalls: “I look back and most of the time it was fun and enjoyable. “Yes, of course there were times when we got into some kind of conflict between the band members, or things didn’t go so well. But overall, compared to having the right job, it’s great!”

It is also dark side—and its shocking, widespread popularity—makes the demise of the classic lineup of four very different men almost inevitable.

“We only really broke through in America in ’72, after The Dark Side of the Moon,” added Gilmour. “Within three months or so, we had transformed from a stage band into an arena band. Even now, I think a lot of Americans see Pink Floyd as something that starts with dark side because the transition is huge.

However, Gilmour said, he is proud of dark side and enjoy playing songs even 50 years later.

“I never tire of playing these songs,” Gilmour said with a smile. “I think I should. But I do not.”

As for Water?

“When the clock ticks, I really have no interest in revisiting anything old, except maybe The dark side of the moon,” he admitted. “I have no interest in going to see it, but [director] Sean Evans and I started a movie called swaddlingbased on music from dark side tour from about 10 years ago, and it was really, really good. It is black and white. We’ve done it a lot with black and white in mind.

And of course, a new solo version recorded belong to dark side is said to have arrived from Waters in May.

Mason, again, was more cautious.

He told me: “There’s always been a feeling that rock music is meant to be fleeting, to move on, then to get lost, etc. “I come from a generation that people assume that is exactly that: rather short-lived. And we live in a world that’s almost the same way we used to go and find all the early R&B artists. But people are discovering Pink Floyd’s music and there’s still something to learn from it.”

“I really wanted more people to discover our early music and appreciate how unique and special it was,” Mason continued, acknowledging that was the driving force behind the extensive work. his for the video accompanying the remarkable 2016 Pink Floyd box set Early Years: 1965-1972as well as the motivation behind his current band, Saucerful of Secrets. “But it’s always about dark side And Wish you were here And Wall: tyranny of the big three, as I like to say. However, that’s right.

As for the possibility of a Pink Floyd reunion — which seems far-fetched, given the current state of Waters and Gilmour’s relationship — Mason says he’s still hopeful.

“If a miracle happens and Roger and David suddenly say, ‘You know what? We really need to go and do this tour’, for some worthwhile reason, I’m happy to do it,” he said. “But I certainly don’t hold my breath.”

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