Revered as one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon was released 48 years ago this week. The psychedelic influence of the record has gone on to definitively alter the face of rock music for decades.
The album was released 1 March 1973, reaching the top spot on the US chart for only a week. The record did, however, remain in the Billboard album chart for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon still sells today, with the record currently sitting 16th on the Official Vinyl Charts.
The iconic record invites listeners on a musical journey full of long tracks with blistering guitar solos from David Gilmour in Time and Any Colour You Like, and perfectly timed dynamics in Money, with an addition of synthetic sounds way beyond its time.
For Irish Independent columnist and music critic John Meagher, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most important documents in the history of rock music.
“When you consider what music was being produced at the time, The Dark Side of the Moon impacted the cultural zeitgeist more than anything else during this period,’’ Meagher says.
One of the driving forces behind The Dark Side of the Moon becoming a cultural phenomenon of the 1970s was the revolutionary production work on the record: the sound had a level of pristine clarity unmatched by any other music at the time.
The production values on the record are courtesy of sound engineer Alan Parsons and his technical wizardry.
‘’He could harness the technology that was available at the time and create a masterpiece that was way ahead of its time.
“Parsons is one of the core reasons why the album still stands the test of time,’’ Meagher adds.
The record is often compared to a film, as you must listen to the whole album from start to the finish to get the cinematic feel of it. However, some of the tracks from the album hold merit as standalone singles.
“Money is one of the greatest tracks on the album for its production value, the incorporation of the cash register and the sounds of coins jingling were such simple concepts that enhanced the record as a whole,’’ says Meagher.
The album’s artwork which was designed by Norwegian artist Storm Thogerson – who previously worked with names such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. He created an album cover that is nearly as recognisable as the Rolling Stone’s ‘tongue and lips’ logo. The artwork’s recognisability has proved significant for the prog rock quartet as it became fashionable to display the album cover in the 1970s.
“It was common in the 1970s for people to show off what vinyl they had just bought. If you were a music lover, Dark Side was the album to show off,’’ Meagher added.
The vogueishness of the album’s artwork back in the 1970s has returned in present day, with many clothes shops selling t-shirts and hoodies with the iconic logo on display.
Dark Side’s legacy
The Dark Side of the Moon was voted 43rd on Rolling Stone’s original 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. The music magazine considers it as one of the ‘best-produced rock albums of all time’. The record also rose to the number one spot in Classic Rock Readers The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time.
Part of the legacy behind The Dark Side of the Moon is its influence on modern music and culture, with artists such as Tame Impala, Girl Band, and Muse using Pink Floyd as an influence on their work. The album is compared with some later works – specifically with Radiohead’s OK Computer, often considered The Dark Side of the Moon of the 1990s.
A band that had previously received considerable notoriety from previous works such as Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Meddle, Pink Floyd’s legacy was cemented as one of the most influential bands of the 20th century when they released The Dark Side of the Moon 48 years ago.