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October 14, 2011

Buying The Dark Side of the Moon (again)

Dark Side of the Moon

So, here it is again, Pink Floyd’s veritable cash cow. Released again in new packaging, newly remastered and sold to the public yet again. I must confess that this is the fourth time I’ve bought the album – the first was a cassette in the late 80s, followed by the unremastered CD, then my long-since destroyed vinyl and now again in it’s newly remastered form.

Why do I keep coming back to this album? Why do I, and clearly so many others buy it time and time again? The answer is obvious – cos many people think it’s brilliant! And, in it’s own way, on it’s own terms, it is.

More to the point, why am I buying it again? I was drawn for two reasons. Firstly, and less importantly, I wanted a remastered CD of it, and a quick A-B with my old unremastered CD (the only previous copy I still have) is a revelation. It’s crisper, cleaner and just better. It’s like having an old friend round. Lovely.

The main reason I wanted it was because it comes in a 2xCD edition with a live version of the album from 1974. Now, I will confess that I have many Pink Floyd bootlegs from throughout their career, and their 1971-1974 period sees them at the peak of their powers. I note that the packaging doesn’t say which of the Empire Pool shows from Wembley this is – it’s probably an amalgamation, certainly Roger’s clanging bum-note from Us And Them on the BBC live broadcast gig is missing in this latest version.

There are things I miss in the official non-bootleg, polished version of the live show(s) – guitars and bass are too loud in “rockers” Time and Money, at the cost of some exquisite keyboard work. I’m not particularly keen with the mixing and EQing of the bass sound on many tracks to give it a deeper/”sub-ier” sound – I love the classic Fender Precision wooden plank sound on the bootlegs and Live at Pompeii concert.

But these are the petty whinges of an absolute Floyd nerd. Let me say that the live concert is stunning – On The Run particularly benefits from official studio time and extended frequency range, synths throbbing in the basement, stereo squeals and more. It is probably the first official Pink Floyd release that lets you hear just what a good bass player Roger Waters can be.

And, as The Great Gig in the Sky finishes with jazz noodling, the cash-till clanking on Money begins to fade in, you realise something not accomplished on the actual record. You realise that The Dark Side of the Moon is not a collection of songs, it is one piece of music – much in the way the Atom Heart Mother and Echoes previously had various “scenes”, so each song is a “scene” in the entire piece. You understand why Pink Floyd sued EMI for selling individual tracks online – it’s that these aren’t individual tracks, they are sections of one 45 minute long song. And that is why I keep buying it: it reveals more and more on every listen.