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Dark Side of the Moon Discography

Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon (titled Dark Side of the Moon in the 1993 CD edition) is a concept album by the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd. It was released on March 17, 1973 in the U.S. and March 24, 1973 in the UK.

The Dark Side of the Moon builds upon previous experimentation Pink Floyd had done, especially on their album Meddle. Its themes include old age, conflict and insanity; the latter possibly inspired by the deteriorating mental state of their former band leader Syd Barrett. The album is notable for its use of musique concrĆØte and conceptual, philosophical lyrics, as found in much of Pink Floyd’s work.

The band’s most successful release, The Dark Side of the Moon spent 741 consecutive weeks (14 years) on the USA-based Billboard 200 album chart, the longest duration of any album in history. Additionally, the album holds the record of spending the highest amount of time on the Billboard charts, staying there for more than 1,500 weeks (almost 29 years). It is one of three albums tied for the claim of second highest selling album globally of all time, selling forty million or more units. In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is often considered to be the group’s defining work, and is still frequently ranked by music critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.

The Dark Side of the Moon explores the nature of the human experience. For example, “Speak to Me / Breathe” is about birth and being a child with new earthly experiences. “Time” deals with growing older and the overwhelmingly fast approach of death – youth being gone before one even realizes it. “The Great Gig in the Sky” deals with thoughts of death and religion, “Money” deals with consumerism with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and wealth-related sound effects. “Us and Them” deals with conflict, ethnocentrism, and the belief that a person’s self is “always in the right”. “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” deal with growing too old to be who one once was, and finally, death.

Roger Waters wrote all of the lyrics in the album and created the early demo tracks in a small garden shed-turned-recording studio at his home. It was in there he also created the intro to “Money” by experimenting with dropping a range of monetary objects. All four members of Pink Floyd, which included guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, bassist and lyricist Roger Waters, and keyboardist Richard Wright, had some form of participation in the writing and production of the album, which is a rarity among later Pink Floyd albums. However, it is the first of five consecutive Pink Floyd albums with lyrics completely credited to Roger Waters.

Although The Dark Side of the Moon was the planned title of the album, upon the discovery that the band Medicine Head was to release an album of the same name in 1972, the year prior to The Dark Side of the Moon’s release, the band changed the album’s title to Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics. However, the Medicine Head album flopped, so Pink Floyd reverted to the original title.

The only time there is a gap of silence on the whole album is between “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Money”, where there is a side change on the LP.

Recorded by the band and staff engineer Alan Parsons at Abbey Road Studios between June 1972 and January 1973, the album sessions made use of the most advanced techniques available for recording instruments and sound effects in rock music at that time. Along with some Moody Blues albums, it is known for being one of the very first surround sound mixes, taking advantages of the early technology of quadraphonic systems of the time. A quadraphonic surround sound mix of the album was created by Parsons. However, he never completed it to his satisfaction, due to lack of time and multi-track tape recorders. The mix was released in SQ format by Harvest Records (Q4SHVL-804) but languished in obscurity for about 30 years before an anonymous “experienced audio engineer” obtained the master tape from Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and created a DVD-Audio bootleg, which is now a torrent circulating the Internet. Pink Floyd rejected this quadraphonic mix for the 2003 SACD release, and instead chose to have their current engineer, James Guthrie, create a new, official 5.1 surround sound mix in SACD format. Most fans that have heard the circulating bootleg generally consider it to be superior to the official SACD; and possibly the best mix of the album, despite the fact that Pink Floyd did not approve, and was never completed to Alan Parsons’ satisfaction. In 1975, Parsons wrote a paper for Studio Sound magazine titled “Four Sides of the Moon”, in which he discusses mixing of the quad. He has also done a side-by-side comparison of his quadraphonic mix to James Guthrie’s SACD mix.

Alan Parsons mixing Dark Side of the Moon in quadraphonic surround sound.Along with the conventional rock band instrumentation, Pink Floyd added prominent synthesizers to their sound. For example, Roger Waters and David Gilmour experimented with the EMS VCS3 Synthi A, one of the first analog sequencers, to create the publicly “unheard” psychedelic effects during “On the Run”. Alan Parsons also devised and recorded some unconventional noises: an assistant engineer running around the studio’s echo chamber (during “On the Run”); myriad antique clocks chiming simultaneously (during “Time”), and a specially-treated bass drum made to sound like a human heartbeat (during “Speak to Me”, “On the Run”, “Time”, and “Eclipse”). The heartbeat is most audible as the intro and the outro to the album, but it can also be heard underneath most of the albumā€”the song “Time” and “On the Run” has the low thudding underneath the rest.

Another novelty of the recording is the metronomic and rhythmic sequence of sound effects played during “Speak to Me” and “Money”. This was achieved by Parsons laboriously splicing together recordings of ringing cash registers, clinking coins, tearing paper, and buzzing counting machines onto a two-track tape loop (later adapted to four tracks in order to create a unique “walk around the room” effect in quadraphonic presentations of the album). The sonic experimentation on the album required every member of the band to operate the faders simultaneously in order to mix down the intricately assembled multitrack recordings of several of the songs (particularly “On the Run”).

Dark Side of the Moon, Earls Court 1973Perhaps one of the less noticeable aspects of the album is the ability of Rick Wright and David Gilmour to perfectly harmonize with each other, such as on “Us and Them” and “Time”. In the Making of Dark Side of the Moon DVD, Roger Waters attributes this to the fact that, along with their talent, their voices both sound extremely similar. To take advantage of this, Alan Parsons perfected the use of other studio techniques such as the doubletracking of vocals and guitars (allowing David Gilmour to harmonize flawlessly with himself). He also made prominent use of flanging and phase shifting effects on vocals and instruments, odd trickery with reverb and the panning of sounds between channels (most notable in the quadraphonic mix of “On the Run”, when the opening Hammond B3 rapidly swirls around the listener). To this day, audiophiles use The Dark Side of the Moon as an engineering reference standard to test the fidelity of audio equipment. Despite the fact that it was originally mixed from third-generation tape with Dolby noise reduction. This is attributed to Parsons’ superior engineering skills, and to the amount of time he put into the album. He once said in an interview that he swapped shifts with colleagues in order to work on the whole project.

Despite Parsons’ significant contribution to the success of the album, Pink Floyd have occasionally tried to downplay his role. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “I think they all felt that I managed to hang the rest of my career on Dark Side of the Moon, which has an element of truth to it. But I still wake up occasionally, frustrated about the fact that they made untold millions and a lot of the people involved in the record didn’t.”

Clare Torry sang on “The Great Gig in the Sky”. In 2004, she sued EMI and Pink Floyd for songwriting royalties, claiming that she co-wrote “The Great Gig in the Sky” with keyboardist Richard Wright. She was originally paid Ā£30 for Sunday studio work. The High Court concluded that Torry was correct but the terms of the lawsuit were not disclosed. On Pink Floyd’s 2006 live DVD P*U*L*S*E, Torry is credited with the vocal composition for “The Great Gig in the Sky” segment.

Snippets of dialogue between and over songs are also featured on the recording. Roger Waters devised a method of interviewing people, whereby questions were printed on flashcards in sequential order and the subject’s responses were recorded uninterrupted. The questions related to central themes of the album such as madness, violence, and death. Participants were commandeered from around Abbey Road, placed in the darkened studio in front of a microphone, and told to answer the questions in the order which they were presented. This provoked some surprising responses to subsequent questions. For example, the question “When was the last time you were violent?” was immediately followed by “Were you in the right?”

Recordings of road manager Roger “The Hat” Manifold were the only ones obtained through a conventional sit-down interview because the band members could not find him at the time and his responses (including “give ’em a quick, short, sharp shock…” and “live for today, gone tomorrow, that’s me…”) had to be taped later when the flashcards had been lost. Another roadie, Chris Adamson, was on tour with Pink Floyd at the time and recorded his explicit diatribe that opens the album (“I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, over the edge for yonks…”).

Pink Floyd’s executive road manager Peter Watts (father of actress Naomi Watts) contributed the repeated laughter during “Brain Damage” and “Speak to Me”. The monologue about “geezers” who were “cruisin’ for a bruisin'” and the often-misheard “I never said I was frightened of dying” (during the middle of “The Great Gig in the Sky”) came from Peter’s wife, Myfanwy Watts.

The responses “And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying, there’s no reason for it you’ve got to go some time” (during “The Great Gig in the Sky”) and closing words “there is no dark side of the Moon really… as a matter of fact it’s all dark” (over the “Eclipse” heartbeats) came from the Abbey Road Studios’ Irish doorman at the time, Gerry Driscoll. Paul and Linda McCartney were also interviewed, but their answers were considered too cautious for inclusion. McCartney’s bandmate Henry McCullough contributed the famous line “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time.”

LP packaging
The album was originally released in a gatefold LP sleeve designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, and bore Hardie’s iconic refracting prism on the cover. Inside were two posters, one bearing pictures of the band in concert with the words PINK FLOYD broken up and scattered about, and the other being a slightly psychedelic image of the Great Pyramids of Giza taken on infrared film. Also included was a sheet of stickers of the pyramids. The album was also the first Pink Floyd album to have picture labels on the record where it depicted a blue prism with black background and the credits written either in grey lettering (European issues) or white lettering (US and Canadian issues). In 1991, the refracting prism album cover was #35 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest album covers of all time list. In 2003, VH1 named Dark Side’s cover the 4th Greatest Album Cover of All Time on their 50 Greatest Album Covers of All Time special.

The Dark Side of the Moon is one of three albums tied for the claim of second best selling album of all time worldwide, and the 20th-best-selling album in the United States. Though it held the No. 1 spot in America for only one week, it spent a total of 741 consecutive weeks, approximately fourteen years, on the list until April 23, 1988 only to be removed by a rule change. To this day, it occupies a prominent spot on Billboard’s Pop Catalog Chart, reaching ā„–1 when the 2003 hybrid CD/SACD edition was released and sold 800,000 copies in the U.S. alone. On the week of May 5, 2006, The Dark Side of the Moon achieved a combined total of 1,500 weeks on the Billboard 200 and Pop Catalog charts.

Sales of the album worldwide total over forty million as of 2004, with an average of 8,000 copies sold per week and a total of 400,000 in the year of 2002 ā€” making it the 200th best-selling album of that year nearly three decades after its initial release. It is estimated that one in every fourteen people in the U.S. under the age of fifty owns or owned a copy of this album. According to an August 2, 2006 Wall Street Journal article, although the album was released in 1973, it has sold 7.7 million copies since 1991 in the U.S. alone and continues to log 9,600 sales per week domestically.

The LP was released before platinum awards were introduced by the RIAA on January 1, 1976, and it initially only received a gold disc. However, after the introduction of the album on CD, The Dark Side of the Moon would eventually be certified platinum in 1990. On April 6, 1998, the RIAA certified the album at 15x platinum, denoting sales of fifteen million in the United States alone – making it their second biggest-selling album there. “Time”, “Money” and “Us and Them” remain radio call-in request favourites, with “Money” having sold well as a single in its own right.

In 2006 it was voted “My Favourite Album” by viewers and listeners to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990, Australian radio listeners voted it the best album to make love to, and in 2003, Rolling Stone listed The Dark Side of the Moon 43rd on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Some of the profits from The Dark Side of the Moon were invested in the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The members of Pink Floyd were reportedly huge Monty Python fans, to the point of interrupting recording sessions to watch the Flying Circus. However, David Gilmour has disputed the claim that the band regularly halted sessions to watch football or Monty Python. In an interview with Uncut Gilmour said, “We would sometimes watch them but when we were on a roll, we would get on.”

On February 3-11, 1995, the opening sequence of “Time” was played as a wakeup call for the crew of space mission STS-63.

Reissues and remastering
In 1979, The Dark Side of the Moon was released as a remastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL). Alan Parsons has expressed approval of MFSL’s mastering of the album. It has since been re-released several times on CD. MFSL remastered and re-released the album again in CD Ultradisc form in April of 1988, with new, factory-sealed examples of this version currently selling for well over a hundred dollars on the Internet.

The Dark Side of the Moon was again re-released later as a remastered CD as part of the 1992 box set “Shine On.” The 1992 remaster was then re-released by itself as a 20th Anniversary box set edition with postcards. On most CD pressings, a barely-audible orchestral version of The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” is audible after “Eclipse”, playing very faintly over the heartbeats that close the album. It is unknown why this was included, but it may have been the consequence of a remastering error. The bootleg recording A Tree Full of Secrets includes an amplified, re-processed version of this oddity, which allows it to be heard clearly. This is not audible on the original vinyl.

The Dark Side of the Moon was re-released as a 30th anniversary hybrid Super Audio CD with a 5.1 channel DSD surround sound version remixed from the original 16-track studio tapes. Some surprise was expressed when longtime producer James Guthrie was called in to mix the new surround mix rather than the original LP engineer, Alan Parsons, who had already produced a definitive quadraphonic mix shortly after the original album was released. Speaking of the surround sound mix, Parsons said, “After hearing his mix for a while, I think Iā€™m hearing stereo with a bit of surround.” This 30th anniversary edition won four Surround Music Awards in 2003.

The Dark Side of the Moon was also re-released in 2003 on 180-gram virgin vinyl (mastered by Kevin Gray at AcousTech Mastering) and included reprints of the original posters and stickers that came with the original vinyl release, along with a new 30th anniversary poster.

The Progressive metal band Dream Theater has covered the album live in its entirety several times. They have also released one of the performances on CD and DVD.

On November 2, 1998, the band Phish covered the album in its entirety, as part of the second set of their show that night, in West Valley City, Utah.

In 2003 the New York dub collective the Easy Star All Stars released their dub reworking Dub Side of the Moon.

Dark Side of the Rainbow
When the album is played simultaneously with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, numerous images from the film appear to synchronise with the music and lyrics. All band members (save Roger Waters) and engineer Alan Parsons have firmly stated that the phenomenon is a coincidence. This effect has often been called Dark Side of the Rainbow. Arguably, playing any two media together will produce an impression of a striking amount of coincidence (an effect known as apophenia).

Track listing
All lyrics written by Roger Waters.

Side one:
Title – Music – Length
1. “Speak to Me” – Nick Mason – 1:30
2. “Breathe” – David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright – 2:43
3. “On the Run” – Gilmour, Waters – 3:30
4. “Time” – Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason – 6:53
5. “The Great Gig in the Sky” – Wright, Clare Torry – 4:15

Side two:
Title – Music – Length
1. “Money” – Waters – 6:30
2. “Us and Them” – Waters, Wright – 7:34
3. “Any Colour You Like” – Gilmour, Wright, Mason – 3:24
4. “Brain Damage” – Waters – 3:50
5. “Eclipse” – Waters – 1:45

Clare Torry was credited for vocal improvisation for “The Great Gig in the Sky” for the first time in the P*U*L*S*E DVD release, after a legal battle she won against Pink Floyd.

Timings above are from the original UK LP edition. Alternate timings can be found on various CD re-issues.

David Gilmour ā€“ lead vocals, guitar, VCS 3 synthesiser, production
Nick Mason ā€“ percussion, tape effects, production
Roger Waters ā€“ bass guitar, vocals, VCS 3 synthesiser, tape effects, production
Richard Wright ā€“ keyboards, vocals, VCS 3 synthesiser, production
Clare Torry ā€“ vocals (on “The Great Gig in the Sky”)
Lesley Duncan ā€“ background vocals
Doris Troy ā€“ background vocals
Barry St. John ā€“ background vocals
Liza Strike ā€“ background vocals
Dick Parry ā€“ saxophone
Alan Parsons ā€“ engineer
Peter James ā€“ assistant engineer
Chris Thomas ā€“ mixing consultant
James Guthrie ā€“ remastering supervisor on 20th anniversary edition, remastering on 30 anniversary editions, 5.1 mixing on 30th anniversary edition
Doug Sax ā€“ remastering on 20th and 30th anniversary editions
Hipgnosis ā€“ design, photography
Storm Thorgerson ā€“ 20th and 30th anniversary edition designs
George Hardie ā€“ illustrations, sleeve art
Jill Furmanovsky ā€“ photography
David Sinclair ā€“ liner notes in CD re-release
Drew Vogel ā€“ art and photography in CD re-release

In some countries, notably the UK, Pink Floyd did not release any singles between 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky” and 1979’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two)”. However, the following were released in the U.S. and many other countries:

“Money”/”Any Colour You Like” ā€“ Harvest/Capitol 3609; released June, 1973
“Time”/”Us and Them” ā€“ Harvest/Capitol 45373; released February 4, 1974
The latter is sometimes considered a double A-side.

Year – Chart – Position – Notes
1973 – UK album chart – 2 – Initial album release
1973 – Billboard’s Pop Albums (North America) – 1 – Initial album release
1973 – Norway’s album chart – 2 – Initial album release
1980 – Norway’s album chart – 9 – Re-entry
1993 – UK album chart – 4 – Re-entry
1994 – UK album chart – 38 – Re-issue
2003 – UK album chart – 17 – 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition
2003 – Billboard’s Pop Catalog (North America) – 1 – 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition
2003 – Norway’s album chart – 7 – 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition

Year – Chart – Single – Position
1973 – Billboard Pop Singles – (North America) “Money” – 13
1974 – Billboard Pop Singles – (North America) “Time” – 101
1974 – Billboard Pop Singles – (North America) “Us and Them” – 101

Selected album sales
Country – Certification – Sales – Last certification – Date
Austria – 2x Platinum – 60,000 + – 20/01/93
Australia – 11x Platinum – 770,000 +
Canada – 2x Diamond – 2,000,000+ – 14/03/03
Europe – 12x Platinum – 12,700,000+ – 7th best selling album in Europe
France – 1x Diamond – 1,250,000+
Germany – 2x Platinum – 400,000+ – 1993
Poland – 1x Platinum – 20,000+ – 2003
United Kingdom – 9x Platinum – 3,800,000+ – 6th best selling album in UK
United States – RIAA 15x Platinum – 15,000,000+ – 06/04/ā€™98 11x – Platinum at 16/02/90
United States – Soundscan – 8x Platinum

The above article is courtesy of Wikipedia.

3 comments on the “Dark Side of the Moon Discography” page

  1. January 9th, 2012 at 12:20 pm


    I have an early version of the album (blue triangle label( I bought while still at school in 1973 from Fine Records in Worthing. It doesn’t have the posters. Any idea what it is worth please? Im thinking of selling.

  2. May 13th, 2012 at 4:42 am


    I have copy of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
    SEAX-11902 Ltd picture edition. Released previously under different cover as SMAS-11163 CAPITOL RECORDS INC. Printed in USA. 1973 EMI Records Ltd.
    Can anyone shed more light on this version as have not been able to find any info about it. Is it rare? If you can help THANKS.

  3. January 31st, 2013 at 3:07 am


    Martin, have you opened the gatefold right out? On my copy the posters and stickers were all the way through in the other side of the sleeve..


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