The Dark Sides of the Moon

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“The Dark Side of the Moon” was a milestone, not only in the career of Pink Floyd, but in the history of the music and not at least, source for inspiration for many musicians since its release. There’s many tribute, cover and reinterpretations of “The Dark Side of the Moon” and I gathered here a few of the most intriguing and interesting of these releases.

Released on 10 March 1973, “The Dark Side of the Moon” is the eighth studio album by Pink Floyd and it was the record that moved, back or forward – it’s a matter of point of view – the English band from the closed circle of fans to the mainstream. “The Dark Side of the Moon” is a concept album that explore the themes of conflict, greed, the passage of time and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by Syd Barrett’s deteriorating mental state, but it lacks the extended instrumental excursions that characterized their work following the departure in 1968 of founding member, principal composer and lyricist  Barrett. The album was recorded in two sessions in 1972 and 1973 at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. The group used some of the most advanced recording techniques of the time, including multitrack recording and tape loops. Analogue synthesizers were given prominence in several tracks, and a series of recorded interviews with staff and band personnel provided the source material for a range of philosophical quotations used throughout. Engineer Alan Parsons was directly responsible for some of the most notable sonic aspects of the album, including the non-lexical performance of Clare Torry.

“The Dark Side of the Moon” was an immediate success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, longer than any other album in history. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide and is in the top 25 of a list of best selling albums in the United States.  It has twice been remastered and re-released and it remains one of Pink Floyd’s most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest rock albums of all-time.

But “The Dark Side of the Moon” seems to be one tempting material for covers and remakes as well. Actually I think you need some huge balls to touch these songs, but a few artist seems to have those or something else. From pure forms of tribute materials till completely funny approaches, we’ve got almost everything from classic rock to blues, from a cappella to jazz, and from bluegrass to dub.

The Squirrels, founded in 1984 by lead vocalist Rob Morgan, a novelty band based in Seattle, Washington, released in 2000 the album entitled “The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon”, perhaps their most widely respected album. Many of the songs the Squirrels perform live have never been released because their tendency to combine elements of multiple songs raises issues with copyright law and tests the limits of fair use. So, in the original style and approach of The Squirrels, “The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon” is a spoof, but it’s an elaborate one where the humor and the attention to detail goes together perfectly. The record opens with hiccups instead of a beating heart… Balancing between juvenile jokes and fabulous rock tunes nicely flavored with blues and jazzy twist, it’s a notable effort and an interesting re-interpretation of the original material.  On this album featuring contributions from members of The Fastbacks, Dread Zeppelin, Tuatara, and Young Fresh Fellows. Do you ever imagine to hear “The Torture Never Stops” on the “Dark Side of the Moon”? 😀 I don’t think so!
The Squirrels – Official Site

 

Another unusual approach was made by the bluegrass band Poor Man’s Whiskey on their reales entitled “Dark Side of the Moonshine”. Poor Man’s Whiskey plays “High Octane Hootenanny” music… whatever that may means. Emerging from the San Francisco bay area music scene this quintet has developed a sound that is eclectic and engaging. Poor Man’s Whiskey resume them self to: dance, laugh, sing. “Dark Side of the Moonshine” is available as double CD through their own record label or you can download the mp3s from CD Baby for 10 bucks ($9.99). What do we get when we cross a banjo with a full laser light show?  Well, nobody is quit sure, but this “Dark Side of the Moonshine” is a pretty interesting version of the classic Pink Floyd album.
Poor Man’s Whiskey – Official Site

 

 

“Dub Side of the Moon” was released on February 18, 2003 by Easy Star All-Stars. It probably may sound blasphemous for any Pink Floyd fan, but this dub remake actually it’s pretty cool. Originally formed as a studio band for the label’s earliest recordings, Easy Star All-Stars is a reggae collective with a rotating roster of musicians and singers. they are best known for covering popular albums in a reggae and dub style and have released three cover albums to date. The first, released in 2003, was an interpretation of Pink Floyd’s classic “The Dark Side of the Moon”, this “Dub Side of the Moon”. The second was 2006’s Radiodread, a song-by-song cover of Radiohead’s “OK Computer”, and in April 2009, they released a cover of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” entitled “Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band”. In my opinion the best release so far is this interpretation of “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Dub Side of the Moon” has remained on the Billboard Reggae Charts since its release.
Easy Star All-Stars – Official Site

 

Mary Fahl is an American singer, songwriter and actress known for her work with October Project in the mid-1990s and, more recently, for her solo singing and acting career. As of September 2006 Fahl completed the recording of “Mary Fahl: From the Dark Side of the Moon”, for V2 Records, produced by Mark Doyle and David Werner and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, with Doyle also provided nearly all of the instrumentation. The album is a song-by-song “re-imagining” of Pink Floyd’s classic album “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Advance copies were sent out prior to the restructuring of V2, but the album remained unreleased for several years. I really love this material, it’s a very refreshing and beautiful blending of electronic, rock, world, folk and Celtic music, it have a nice groove and a special shine. It’s an intense and interesting reinterpretation, but still carefully following the spectacular space and concept created by Pink Floyd.
Mary Fahl – Official Site

 

Sam Yahel, Ari Hoenig, Mike Moreno and Seamus Blake have done their best to show a descent, jazzy respect to their colleagues from Pink Floyd. “Jazz Side of the Moon” is a triumphant statement of how far jazz has come both as an interpretative art and as a paradigm of recording purity. The degree to which Hammond B3 organist, Sam Yahel and his hand-picked collaborators evoke both the textural-thematic spirit of the original arrangements and sonic effects, while maintaining the overall conceptual arc and metaphysical implications of Pink Floyd’s suite of songs, is remarkably powerful both as a jazz combo statement and as a purist, bare-bones audiophile recording. Beside Sam Yahel it’s outstanding the performances delivered by Ari Hoenig on drums, Mike Moreno on acoustic and electric guitar, and Seamus Blake on tenor saxophone. This album has a fascinating groove, the jazz elements twist to another dimension the original rock concept of these songs creating a totally different vibe.
Sam Yahel – Official Site

 

Owned and operated by Freddie Feldman since 1998, Vocomotion consists of two main business units: Vocomotion Studios is an award-winning a cappella recording studio and VocomotionLabs produces products for a cappella singers and recording studios. “Dark Side of the Moon A Cappella” is an all-vocal version of Pink Floyd’s magnum opus “Dark Side of the Moon.” No instruments were used in the recording of this unique version of the album. Eight singers and one “vocal percussionist” (similar to a beatboxer) recreate the original work in its entirety.
The album was recorded in High Definition, without breaks between the tracks (as in the original), and is as close to the original in timing as possible, thus preserving its “Wizard of Oz Compatibility.” Produced and mixed by the renowned a cappella Producer, Freddie Feldman, this recording breaks new ground in both the worlds of a cappella and rock. Vocal performances by: Stephanie Lewin – soprano, Jennifer Feucht – soprano, Melissa Smithson – alto, Jon Krivitzky – tenor, Michael Mahler – tenor, Chris Feucht – tenor, Alan Schmuckler – baritone, Dan Riley – bass, and Freddie Feldman – vocal percussion. It’s an absolutely unique approach and a very interesting material.
Vocomotion – Official Site

Released 0n 22 December, 2009, The Flaming Lips delivered one of the most exciting reinterpretation of “The Dark Side of the Moon” in collaboration with Stardeath and White Dwarfs, and featuring Henry Rollins and Peaches as guest musicians. “Doing The Dark Side of the Moon” is a complete track-for-track remake of the original material and gave us 41 minutes of extremely exciting music to listen. I think Syd Barrett would be extremely pleased with this version of the album.
The Flaming Lips formed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1983 with Wayne Coyne’s brother Mark singing lead vocals and Michael Ivins on bass guitar. Their sound contains lush, multi-layered, psychedelic rock arrangements, but their compositions include a variety of elements from space rock to post rock. How they “doing it” the original songs of Pink Floyd it’s just another brilliant example of genius.
The Flaming Lips – Official Site

 

This project was put together by Luiz Félix, guitarist and vocalist of the band La Pupuña, who basically had the idea to remake “The Dark Side of the Moon” but with a strong “paraense” influence and the album has contributions from fifteen members of the paraense music scene. “Charque Side of the Moon”, is Floyd’s proto-ambient classic covered by musicians from the city of Belem in the state of Pará in Amazonia.The “charque” refered to in the title is a type of beef jerky that is eaten but is also an affectionate name for the female genitalia, hence the charming cover. Perhaps most interestingly it has the vocal talents of Gaby Amarantos – a technobrega singer from the band Tecnoshow, on “The great gig in the sky”. “Time” also has some nice heavy percusssion from the carimbó group, Os Baioaras, and “Any colour you like” has merengue percussion, for you music anthropologists out there. It has a distinct Paraense flavor, a sound which starting to come into its own now and is worth investigating further. “Charque Side of the Moon” is a colorful reinterpretation, definitively it worth a listening.

Charque Side of the Moon – on last.fm

On October 11, 2005, Dream Theater covered Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Dream Theater’s official webpage stated that the second sets of the second nights in Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Tokyo (October 11, October 25, December 4, December 11 and January 13 respectively), and also the second set of the January 15 show in Osaka, would be a classic album covered in its entirety. The Dark Side of the Moon was played again on October 25 in London. This is actually a very nice bootleg entitled “The Dark Side of the Dream”. I know, I know! Some people dislike these guys, other loves them and I admit, I’m somewhere in between. Dream Theater has covered other artists’ work throughout their career and mainly I love how they did it. They covered Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album, Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” and couple of other songs from different artists including Elton John, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Journey, Kansas, Marillion, Rush and Dixie Dregs. This live reinterpretation of “The Dark Side of the Moon” at least instrumentally it’s brilliant. It may be subject of discussions how James LaBrie vocal style and approach fits or not into this, but honestly, I appreciate they effort and this is a beautiful and precise, professional version, a true homage.

Dream Theater – Official Site

And this is not everything, for sure I miss some. 🙂 There’s also a nice string quartet version of the album released in 2004, a trance remix from 2001 and not the album entirely, but many songs from “The Dark Side of the Moon” were covered or reinterpreted by several artists in different styles and approaches from disco to industrial and from punk to jazz. “The Dark Side of the Moon” remains a shining piece of the music history and from time to time artist will refer to it, adding or taking from its original shine.

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