Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon is considered by many people, including myself, to be one of the greatest albums in the history of popular recorded music. Not only has it been massively successful commercially but it is also a true artistic achievement that continues to remain relevant nearly 40 years after its recording.
As with all things that are incredibly popular (it has sold over 45 million copies worldwide) there has been a backlash against the album by some. There are some hard core Pink Floyd fans who seem irritated that casual fans only know the band's most popular albums and I understand that irritation but really dismissing an album due to its popularlity is a pretty shallow thing to do.
In some ways the massive sales numbers recorded by The Dark Side of the Moon are quite surprising. It's not like its filled with catchy 3 minute pop songs. The album has a lot of experimental elements, including lengthy instrumental sections, which would normally not lead to commercial success.
What's most amazing about the popularity of this album is not so much that it had huge sales numbers when it was first released (it was was the number one album on Billboard for only one week in 1973) but that it has continued to be a big seller for so many years after. It continues to reach new generations. This isn't an "oldies" thing but true art that remains relevant year after year. It holds the record with most weeks on the Billboard charts.
The album starts off with pure silence with a heartbeat and various sound effects (which are heard again on later tracks) building up in intensity for about 90 seconds until "Breathe" really kicks the album off. The first vocals on the album, "Breathe, breathe in the air," aren't heard until about 3 minutes into the album's playing time. How many other 10 million copy selling albums can say that? Maybe none.
The vocal part of "Breathe" lasts barely over a minute before the next track, "On the Run" starts up. This track is an experimental instrumental based on almost entirely on synthesizer sounds. By the end of "On the Run" we're over 7 minutes into the album and there's been barely over a minute of vocal based music. Consider that; this is really quite unusual for a commercially successful popular music album.
"Time," "Money," & "Us and Them" are key songs from the album (and the songs from the album you are most likely to hear on classic rock radio.) They feature great lyrics, beautiful music, and amazing guitar playing from the legendary David Gilmour.
Speaking of Gilmour, he has to be my favorite guitarist of all time and I think there's nowhere his playing is more extraordinary than on The Dark Side of the Moon. I love his style; the way he seems to say so much with so little.
While I think Pink Floyd recorded a lot of great albums, I do think that The Dark Side of the Moon is probably their greatest work. Its popularity is certainly no reason to overlook it. I'm not saying you can't honestly think The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, or Meddle is a better album, they all have their merits and for certain tastes I can see preferring them. But for me it doesn't get any better than this one.