‘Dark side of the moon’ was released on 17th March 1973. Little did anyone know at the time what an impact this classic work would have on the world for years to come.
Pink Floyd were already an established band before D.S.O.T.M, with the four members, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright having an impressive catalogue of work comprising of eight previous Pink Floyd albums, although to this day D.S.O.T.M is still considered to be Pink Floyds masterpiece.
The album in reality was brought together over the period of a couple of years, different pieces which were left from previous albums, shelved and then brought out of storage and re-worked on. ‘Us and them’ was initially a rejected musical sequence by Richard Wright, ‘Brain damage’ was a piece created by Roger Waters in the middle of a writing session during the ‘Meddle’ album.
Pink Floyd managed to construct the album during 1972 whilst touring,
The first play of the yet to be produced album was called ‘Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics‘ performed on 17th February 1972 in front of an assembled room of music press. Pink Floyd then went on a lengthy tour through Europe, North America and Japan to promote the yet to be released masterpiece. The band returned on the 9th January 1973 to complete the album in full.
The engineering was done by Alan Parsons and the first version of D.S.O.T.M was mixed in December 1972. One of the most striking songs on the album is ‘The great gig in the sky’ with the incredible vocals of ‘Clare Torry’ which was actually added later in January 1973, the original just being comprised of Richard Wrights organ and incredibly the voices of the Apollo 17 space mission. As a footnote to this Clare Torry was paid £30.00 for her contribution to one of the most iconic songs in music history. A court case some years later resulted.
The actual theme of the album explores ‘conflict, greed, time, and mental illness’ it would seem that the latter partly inspired by the deteriorating health of ex-member, Syd Barrett, who departed the band in 1968.
The iconic album sleeve was designed by ‘Storm Thorgerson’, the band requested a ‘simple and bold design’ The front cover shows a ‘prism spectrum’. The actual working title of the album D.S.O.T.M was changed to ‘ECLIPSE’ at one stage, when it was discovered that another band, ‘Medicine Head’ had used the same title on one of their albums, Unfortunately the album was a commercial failure and so Pink Floyd reverted back to the original name.
Dark side of the moon was officially released on March 17th 1973 in the US and March 24th 1973 in the UK, it was released by Harvest records which was a British record label belonging to Capitol music group. The official catalogue number was SHVL 804. The first pressing had a ‘solid light blue triangle prism’ on the record labels, black inner sleeve and came with 2 posters and 2 stickers.
The album was the group’s first number one in the United States. “Money,” backed with “Any Colour You Like,” made it to number 13 on the US Billboard singles chart. “Us and Them,” was released also as a 45, backed with “Time,” in 1974, this climbed to number 101. But it would eventually be the album’s longevity more than anything else that would make it so distinctive.
“Dark Side the moon” ended up staying on the U.S. Billboard album chart for a record 15 years, with a total of 724 weeks, before it dropped off in July 1988. It remains to this day the 4th best selling album of all time, behind Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller,” the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.”