50 Years Later, Pink Floyd Recall Making ‘Magic’ on ‘Darkish Facet of the Moon’

“There’s all these assholes who, for years, have been going, ‘Oh, you recognize, Darkish Facet of the Moon completely syncs up with The Wizard of Oz.’ And you recognize what? No, it fucking doesn’t!”

True to type, Roger Waters, the bassist and first lyricist of Pink Floyd till the mid-Eighties, has a deeply held opinion on that specific city legend. Nonetheless, very similar to the “Paul is useless” rumors The Beatles needed to take care of within the late ’60s, Waters as soon as admitted to me—at a Manhattan recording studio a number of years again, after our dialog turned to Darkish Facet of the Moon—that it’s a badge of honor for his former band’s landmark album to carry such an exalted place in popular culture that it’s birthed such a wild conspiracy concept.

Nonetheless, Waters hates to present even an inch: “Even when it does,” he says pointedly, “it’s nothing to do with the music.”

Pink Floyd’s The Darkish Facet of the Moon, which turns 50 this month, is the granddaddy of all basic rock albums. It’s the best-selling British album ever, and the third best-selling album of all time—behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and AC/DC’s Again In Black—with gross sales approaching 60 million copies worldwide, and streaming numbers, throughout all discernible demographics, to match. It’s additionally the album that catapulted Pink Floyd—a band that had by no means bought greater than 250,000 copies of any of its earlier, psychedelic/prog-tinged albums—into the rock ’n’ roll stratosphere, ceaselessly altering the lives of Waters, guitarist David Gilmour, keyboardist Richard Wright, and drummer Nick Mason.

“Today, you need to get into the fitting temper to take heed to an entire album, I assume,” Gilmour mused once we final spoke, a number of years again, of Darkish Facet’s legacy as in all probability the very best and truest idea album. “However there are nonetheless heaps of people that like to take heed to music that manner. Hearken to an entire factor, an entire piece, all through, and get actually into the temper of the entire thing, slightly than take heed to shorter items. Darkish Facet is for them, actually.”

With that in thoughts, Sony Legacy launched a stunning new field set this week commemorating the album’s fiftieth birthday. And whereas it doesn’t embody something really new, the album—as soon as the go-to LP in high-end HiFi shops to show what an amazing stereo system might provide—has by no means sounded higher. Highlights do, nonetheless, embody an Atmos combine that surpasses any of the earlier encompass mixes of Darkish Facet throughout the years—from the ’74 Quad combine to the ’03 SACD encompass combine and more moderen 5.1 combine from the superb Immersion version launched in 2011—in addition to a reside efficiency of Darkish Facet from London’s Wembley Enviornment through the band’s 1974 tour.

“I believe that for any band, however particularly for a band our age, the idea of our stuff interesting to a youthful viewers is the very best suggestions which you can get,” Mason stated once I identified the wholesome streaming numbers Pink Floyd enjoys to at the present time. “It’s at all times vital to have some relevance to a youthful viewers. However in the end you are feeling a way of duty, such as you don’t wish to spoil your repute by placing one thing out which you can’t stand by.”

After I requested in regards to the wealthy, full sound of the encompass mixes of Darkish Facet, Mason defined, “We had been definitely college students of studying to get the fitting sounds throughout our early days at Abbey Highway.” He additionally gave credit score to engineer Alan Parsons in addition to Chris Thomas, who, like Parsons, had labored with The Beatles and helped within the closing levels of manufacturing and mixing to get Darkish Facet throughout the end line.

“We labored exhausting on these,” Andy Jackson, Pink Floyd’s longtime in-house engineer, added. “Ardent followers have heard the 1974 Wembley present. We used a unique supply and it’s by no means sounded this good earlier than. We spent ages on it.”

“The sounds they put down had been glorious,” he continued. “However one thing that will get misplaced a bit, and that I hope the Wembley live performance will present, is that Pink Floyd had been an amazing [live] band.”

However maybe what stands out about Darkish Facet probably the most after half a century within the public consciousness is how a lot soulfulness the band packed into 43 minutes. After years on the album-tour-album treadmill, Mason recalled that it was with “Echoes,” the 23-minute piece on the second aspect of 1971’s Meddle, the place the band lastly discovered a manner ahead and out of its early psychedelic musings. With out that monitor, Darkish Facet may by no means have occurred.

“Within the early days, Syd was the frontman and driving drive,” Mason recalled of Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968, a casualty of drug use and untreated psychological well being points. “We struggled after that. However with ‘Echoes,’ we discovered a sound that felt like one thing new. The entire form of Darkish Facet, the structural manner it was put collectively, was utterly totally different to the sooner stuff, with the alternatives to improvise and so forth.”

“With out the Beatles, we wouldn’t be right here in the present day, as a result of Sgt. Pepper grew to become the primary album to outsell singles,” Gilmour added. “From that, it gave a springboard for all these artists from our era who made albums slightly than continuously attempting to make hit singles.”

“And, after all, with Darkish Facet, Roger actually stepped up,” Mason stated of the person so usually seen today because the villain within the Pink Floyd story—regardless of him being the one who largely conceptualized the album. “It began with the idea of the pressures of recent life, like journey and time and cash and demise. Ultimately, Roger tied all of it collectively as a meditation on madness.”

“The concepts had been mine. The lyrics had been mine,” Waters, true to type, advised me flatly.

Whereas technically true, maybe, Darkish Facet was additionally Pink Floyd’s most collaborative time.

“There was no chief,” Alan Parsons advised me. “Roger and David labored aspect by aspect, egging one another on. And Rick and Nick had been essential; massively instrumental. There was no ego past the occasional disagreement about the best way to make a specific piece or sound the very best that it might be.”

“It’s simply one thing that we did,” Mason concurred. “That magic form of occurred. None of us might fairly perceive it. And we couldn’t recreate it with totally different folks. Once we performed collectively, we created one thing that we don’t actually perceive however that works extremely properly.”

Gilmour’s spouse, Polly Samson, the creator (and someday Floyd lyricist), had a extra bittersweet tackle the band’s collaborative spirit.

“I keep in mind pondering at [the 2005 benefit concert] Dwell 8 that there’s nothing extra excruciating than being in a room with David, Rick, Nick, and Roger,” she recalled. “It’s awkward. You’re with these 4 males, they don’t communicate, there are awkward silences, and the following factor you recognize they’re up on stage and talking so eloquently by their devices. There’s this actual divide between this unbelievable articulacy they’ve with music that they completely don’t have of their relationships. That evening at Dwell 8 it actually struck me, that horrible awkwardness.”

Because the easygoing go-between within the usually chilly (although presently scorching) warfare between Waters and Gilmour—which has been raging ever for the reason that mid-Eighties break up of the basic Pink Floyd lineup—Mason has a extra prosaic view of issues.

“I look again and more often than not spent was enjoyable, gratifying,” Mason recalled. “Sure, after all there have been moments the place we’ve been in the midst of some form of punch-up between band members, or issues weren’t going so properly. However usually, in comparison with having a correct job, it was implausible!”

It was additionally Darkish Facet—and its huge, earthshaking reputation—that made the demise of that basic lineup of 4 very totally different males nearly inevitable.

“We actually solely broke by in America in ’72, after Darkish Facet of the Moon,” Gilmour added. “Inside three months or so we’d remodeled from being a theater band to being an enviornment band. Even now, I believe loads of People see Pink Floyd as one thing that kicked off with Darkish Facet as a result of the transition was monumental.”

Nonetheless, Gilmour says, he’s happy with Darkish Facet and loves taking part in the songs even 50 years later.

“I by no means tire of taking part in these songs,” Gilmour stated with a smile. “I suppose I ought to. However I don’t.”

As for Waters?

“Because the clock ticks down, I’ve no real interest in revisiting any of the previous stuff actually, with the potential exception of The Darkish Facet of the Moon,” he admitted. “I’ve no real interest in touring it, however [director] Sean Evans and I’ve began to make a movie known as Swaddle, based mostly across the music from the Darkish Facet tour from about 10 years in the past, and it’s really actually, actually good. It’s black and white. We made it very a lot with black and white in thoughts.”

And naturally, a newly recorded solo model of Darkish Facet is reportedly coming from Waters in Might.

Mason, once more, is extra circumspect.

“There’s at all times been a sense that rock music is supposed to be ephemeral, and strikes on, and will get misplaced, and so forth,” he advised me. “I come from a era the place that’s precisely what it was regarded as: pretty short-lived. And we’re now residing in a world the place that’s nearly like the way in which we used to go and discover all these early R&B artists. However persons are discovering Pink Floyd’s music, and there’s nonetheless one thing to be discovered from it.”

“I actually need extra folks to find our early music, and admire how distinctive and particular it was,” Mason continued, admitting it was the driving drive behind his in depth work on the video that accompanied the outstanding 2016 Pink Floyd field set The Early Years: 1965-1972, in addition to the impetus behind his present band, Saucerful of Secrets and techniques. “Nevertheless it’s at all times about Darkish Facet and Want You Had been Right here and The Wall: the tyranny of the massive three, as I prefer to say. Nonetheless, rightly so.”

As for the potential of a Pink Floyd reunion—which appears far-fetched, given the present state of relations between Waters and Gilmour—Mason says he stays eternally hopeful.

“If a miracle occurred and Roger and David all of the sudden stated, ‘Are you aware what? We actually have to go and do that tour,’ for some worthwhile trigger or different, I’d fortunately do it,” he says. “However I’m definitely not holding my breath.”