Tag Archives: Dark Side of the Moon

(1975 Albums) Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

I know this may be heresy to some, but I never, ever, got on with “Wish You Were Here” as well as I did with the epic “Dark Side of the Moon”

I remember the cover more than anything else. The card sleeve was wrapped in an almost opaque black plastic wrap which you either had to rip off completely – or at least slice down the open edge – to gain access to the record inside. I think many people tried – and failed – to strip off the ‘machine hands’ sticker in an attempt to save it. I know I did!

The laminated shiny-white cover of the cardboard sleeve itself featured four bizarre (and somewhat disconnected) photos, the most memorable of which is shown above. No photoshopping there… the sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson employed a Hollywood stunt man and actually set fire to him for the shoot!

I’ve slowly grown to appreciate more of the cuts over time than I did in 1975, but not to the degree I ‘know’ them instinctively when I hear them on the radio or when they pop up on my iPod. Weird isn’t it?

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” has of course taken on legendary status over the years, given it’s brooding moodiness and references to the plight of former band member Syd Barrett. It’s probably the best of the bunch, but “Have a Cigar” has a hell of a lot going for it too…

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News in 1973 (Part V)

[… “news in 1973” continued from Part IV]

I read it in the Sunday Papers…

Other news from 1973 includes…

March 17th: The Queen opened the modern London Bridge. Spanning the Thames, it crosses from Southwark to the City area at the western end of what is commonly referred to as the “pool of London”. A bridge has existed at this very location since Roman Britain in 50 AD. 

 The most famous bridge to grace this site was engineer John Rennie’s construction which opened in 1831. It’s famous because of the decision, in 1967, of London’s council to try and sell it.

American entrepreneur Robert P McCullogh bought it for almost $2.5m in 1968. It is often claimed that McCullogh believed he was actually buying the MUCH more iconic Tower Bridge. Regardless, he had the bridge taken apart, brick by numbered brick, and rebuilt in Arizona to form part of a dodgy “Tudor period shopping mall”.  Somewhat sadly, it is now Arizona’s second-biggest tourist attraction…. after the Grand Canyon!

The modern bridge was built to be more functional than its numerous predecessors and to stand the test of time. (Presumably longer than the prior bridge’s 136 years?!). It is a very simple 3-span design and, thanks to new structures in the City (the Gherkin most notably), it has become iconic in its own right, featuring regularly in films and TV shows.

March 24th 1973: Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is released. I have already covered this monumental album.

March 26th 1973: Women are admitted into the London Stock Exchange for the first time. Not, I hasten to add, onto the actual trading floor… that would have been unheard of for the 200-year-old (evidently) misogynistic institution. Indeed full modernism/integration would take another 28 years, when a woman (finally) landed one of the senior posts, Clara Furse becoming chief executive in 2001.

November 14th 1973: Princess Anne married ‘commoner’ Captain Mark Philips at Westminster Abbey. Anne is the Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter and was once third in line for the throne but following other births and marriages in the royal household she is now tenth in line of succession. With the title Princess Royal, she has always been recognised as one of the most hardworking of the royals carrying out some 700 charitable engagements a year, mostly for one of the 200 organizations she is patron to.

I remember watching the actual ceremony unfold on a TV screen in the window of Rumbelows, our local electrical store. Whether this was so I could watch it in colour or not I don’t know, but I seem to remember all schoolchildren were given the day off.

That’s it for my little “news” diversion. Like I said at the beginning I feel a little surprised that my diary rarely touched on the ‘outside world’ – I guess unless it directly affected me it didn’t feel that important? Strangely though I feel I now find out and retain more than I ever did then from teachers or my folks. For instance, I never really understood the “irish troubles” until I took the time to research the history about them for this blog, and can now see the viewpoint of both sides in the conflict. Back then I just thought they were all being mad bastards for the hell of it.

Ah well.. back to the diary for a few more nonsensical entries….

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July 24th 1973

“Went to get £3.50 from the Halifax – difficult job. Went up Trev’s for the day and borrowed Fragile, Dark Side of the Moon + Greasy Truckers Party”

I wonder why it would have been difficult for me to have withdrawn £3.50 from the Halifax? Perhaps it threatened to bring down the entire UK banking system?

Both Yes’ “Fragile” and the live compilation album “Greasy Truckers Party” have been commented on in these pages before. The only thing I find odd is why I would have borrowed them both again – as those previous entries would seem to suggest I had already committed them to tape. Maybe I was forced to ration my own C-90’s, taping over recordings on more of a regular basis than I would have (probably) liked?

I’m not sure what I can add by way of online comments to the third album I refer to in today’s diary entry… but why don’t I give it a shot?…

Who, in 1973, could have predicted what Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” would achieve over the next 35+ years in terms of sales and/or influence?

Music industry figures suggest that this 1973 album has sold in excess of 45 million copies worldwide since its release. That’s Forty-Five MILLION copies!

At it’s time of release I guess it was relatively unique, most certainly in terms of its packaging.

Once again – just as they did with Floyd’s prior “Atom Heart Mother” and “Meddle” – Hipgnosis design founders Storm Thorgeson & Aubrey Powell conjured up something special. George Hardie was actually the artist who came up with the (now iconic beyond belief) prism cover, a design that, apparently, was ‘merely’ one of at least ten presented to the band for their eventual approval. (I wonder if we will ever see the nine rejected ideas?)

The album sleeve opened up to reveal how the prism’s light source had morphed into “heartbeat” soundwaves, accompanied by song lyrics. The prism design was repeated (but reversed) on the rear of the sleeve, specifically, it has been suggested – and this was a masterful decision if true – to enable record stores to display visually-impressive continuous lines of the album in their storage racks.

To complete the packaging, Thorgeson and Co included not just a pair of fold out posters inside the sleeve (both destined for dorm roon walls across the world ad infinitum), but also a pair of small peel-back (crackback) stickers depicting the prism/pyramid theme.

Pink Floyd’s name is mentioned nowhere except on the “concert” poster. Just as with their prior albums EMI hated this notion, but were forced to accept it as part of their contractual agreement with the band.

To say this album pushed Floyd into the musical stratosphere is something of an understatement. Sure, the band had enjoyed commercial success – of a kind – with “Meddle“, but DSOTM took them to an entirely different level altogether.

The cut “Money” was released as a single in the USA reaching #13 in the Billboard charts, propelling sales of the album beyond the band’s wildest dreams. (No singles were released in the UK).

It was the #1 album in America for – and this seems astonishing now – just ONE solitary week in April 1973, BUT then remained in the Billboard “Hot 200″ for 741 consecutive weeks thereafter (that’s 14 years and 3 months) before sales rules were changed and it was ‘demoted’ (stupidly in my opinion) to no more than a ‘back catalogue” album. Even now, some 26 years after its release, its estimated that it sells almost 10,000 copies a week in the USA alone. There are artists out there who would probably donate a body part for sales like that per ANNUM, let alone per week.

Not bad for a concept album about mental illness and what makes us mad.

I’ve listened to the album WAY too many times to even begin to remember what I might have initially thought about it in July 1973. (Not – as most of you will have come to realise – there’s much of a chance I would have remembered anyway, but you know what I mean)

There’s no doubting how much of a musical classic it is, even if parts of it have begun to grate on me over the years. “Money” is, sadly for me, another of those played-too-often-in-rotation cuts on “Classic Rock” stations across the entire USA… to such a degree that I am now heartily sick of hearing it. Also, and perhaps sacrilegiously for some, “Great Gig in the Sky” has always appeared somewhat ‘dirge’-like to me. When I used to play the vinyl, I would always listen to it, but when I got the album on CD it was a track I would invariably skip. (Now, I don’t think I even have the cut on my i-Pod?)

Like a lot of other people though it’s an album I wouldn’t want to be without. I’ve almost lost count of how many copies I’ve owned since that (doubtless recorded) tape version in 1973. Several vinyl copies, a legal cassette version for the car and almost every CD issue and reissue. It’s almost impossible to calculate how many babies might have been conceived – or virginities might have been taken – or plans may have been hatched – to the aural sounds of this album, but I bet the figures are staggering. It’s just one of “those” albums that everybody has and thinks they should have.

I wish I had one tenth of one tenth of half the royalties/residuals Roger Waters receives every quarter for sales of – and to give it’s full and PROPER title… which not everyone realises – The Dark Side of the Moon

Finally, for this lengthy post… some Dark Side of the Moon irrelevant trivia…
• The album was originally going to be entitled “The Dark Side of the Moon” until Floyd and EMI realised that the band Medicine Head had just released an album of the same name. Waters retitled the album “Eclipse” but it was swapped back to TDSOTM when the Medicine Head album disappeared without trace in terms of sales or recognition.
• Wings’ guitarist Henry McCullough supplied the spoken line “I dunno, I was really drunk at the time”, whilst actress Naomi Watts’ dad was one of the insane chucklers during “Brain Damage” and “Speak to Me
• Some of the early profits from the album were used to help make the movie masterpiece “Monty Python & the Holy Grail
• Yes – and perhaps predictably – my wife and I have attempted the “Dark Side of the Rainbow” phenomenon which suggests that the album’s core concepts and lyrics line up perfectly as a mildly head-tripping soundtrack to the movie “The Wizard from Oz“. You need to try the experiment yourself and decide whether it works or not.

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An Aside – My “History of Music” Project: Part X

A 70-odd page “History of Music” would not be complete without a closing reference to Welsh rock giants, Man, would it?

However, I do think the comment about Pink Floyd’s new concept album “Dark Side of the Moon” – considering the subsequent success and ubiquity of their 1975 opus – makes me appear to be something of a musical visionary.

The teacher’s mark and comment seem to somehow undermine the page. How come I can write neatly on the lined paper, but Trotter seems unable to do the same?

As I said at the start of this wee posting ‘marathon’, this project was an important turning point in my teenage life, opening my mind – and ears – to all kinds of different music. I did learn a lot – especially (as I recall) the origins of Rock’n’Roll (Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, etc) – all of which would put me in good stead for my later career. In the meantime however, I suspect I became something of a smug git for getting full marks (“10“) in return for all the hard work I did.

We will now return you to your regular schedule of programming.

(Hard luck!)

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