The album “Dark Side of The Moon” by Pink Floyd, reaches its 42nd Birthday and gets a belated birthday card
On the 1st March 1973, one of my favourite albums of all time was released. At the time I was 4 years and 5 months old and I only have vague recollections of this time. Mainly it consists of playing with toys and my first attempts of drawing. The most coherent memory is sitting in a sunny rose garden at my Grans. A couple of months later it would be joined by remembering my Dad being excited about Sunderland winning the FA cup. I lived in a family where music formed the background noise, and I grew up with radio 1 with its mix of old sixties and new glam, it engrained into my being and I started to love music…. but I wasn’t aware of this album until many years later.
As I grew up my tastes developed and by 1981, I was being devoured into the world of rock, metal, folk and prog. Over the next years, I would spend most of my time with friends sitting in bedrooms listening and discovering music which stretched our imagination and tastes. Many times we had heard of bands or heard single tracks but not whole albums. So when someone got something that we hadn’t heard, we would gather and await expectedly. This one evening, someone had brought an album by a band I had heard of as I liked some of their tracks (some were even of this album). Most of all, I knew the distinct cover… It was one of those unobtainable albums that was instantly recognisable on the shelves of Virgin (like Court of the Crimson King or Sergeant Peppers) which I couldn’t afford. Carefully my friend placed the vinyl on the turntable and passed around the striking black cover, with its simple prism and ray illustration. As the needle clicked into the first groove, we dimmed the lights and quietly listened to the building heart beat of Pink Floyds ‘Dark Side of The Moon’. Music for me, would not be the same again…..
The heartbeat soon gives way, to electronic sound effects and distant voices building to a subdued scream. The ambient chilled soundscape of Breathe starts with seemingly beautiful lyrics which turn out to be the first bit of the dystopian albums subject. The pace slowly builds through the electronic sound effect instrumental On the Run until a synth holding pattern is reached awaiting the inevitable ticking, bells, alarms and chimes.
Time is one of my favourite Pink Floyd Tracks, a beautifully built song around some of the best Waters lyrics and a Gilmour solo. In my first year as a Youth Worker, we did a session where we got young men to pick a song that meant something to them and read out a lyric. Time was my song, and symbolised for me, the previous year of long term unemployment, the abstract boredom, the depression it brought and the need to move on with life. The verse after the solo is stunning (see left) and still strikes a nerve today as when I read this out 25 years ago.
The song at its finish, falls into the reprise of Breathe and segues into Richard Wrights sublime piano for Great Gig in the Sky. Cue some climatic singing with building spiralling crescendos throughout. And just when you think it will just get higher and higher at halfway it suddenly calms down. The piano leads the way with the vocals following suit until they both fade away. The cash register starts brings on the capitalist baiting Money. Waters bass is dominant in this song, making this track strut along with an arrogant swagger perfectly suited to this subject matter (which fitted perfectly into the 80’s we were living in). The sax solo heralds the change of pace and a stunning Gilmour solo, with its sublime bridge which changes the style and pace before an explosion of solo again.
Us and Them, grew on me as I became a youth worker and grew my social conscience. An excellent protest song with sublime lyrics about choices of war, the simple choices of life and how those affect those around you. Prog synths herald the interlude of Any Colour You Like, interspersed only by Gilmour/Waters/Mason fills until the melody for Brain Damage is established. Almost nursery rhyme like in its simplicity. Its a serious song about mental health thats been twisted into a beautiful singalong. It famously builds and builds with laughing voices until we reach the receptive nature of lines that form the apex that is Eclipse.
DSOTM continues to be an album that thrills and calms me in equal measure. It is a stunning piece of work which has a social and political conscience but is musically sublime. The changes of tempo of the different tracks are fab but somehow fit together, due to clever editing and use of effects. Leaving the album a complete work of genius. I love it and thats why I made a 40th birthday card. It was 2 years ago and I didn’t do anything with it. Cue another sublime Roger Waters lyric from Time as a handy excuse ‘Every year is getting shorter never seem to have the time, plans that either come to nought or half a page of written lines…”.
Taking insipation from the iconic Hipgnosis designed cover, I created a pop up prism in the centre of the card. The prism is black, which caused a number of issues in getting the design to stand out enough for cutting and making folds. The edges were coloured in carefully with a white pencil to give the impression of the prism and this was glued into a black card. A single line of white card is attached on one side for the initial beam whilst on the opposite side a cone of rainbow colours appear. This was achieved by cutting separate strips of coloured card sticking them together and vanishing with PVA for good measure. The result is simple but effective. I now needed a front cover. I knew it should have the white beam as part of this, so a similar strip of white card stretches across the top left and finishes where the beam starts in the centre of the card. As it was a birthday card, I thought a badge would be appropriate. So I created a triangular prism badge in black card with a white outline and 40 today written within. Finally some of my favourite lyrics were printed on the back.
Hopefully this will be the first of number of favourite album celebration cards. Hopefully the next won’t be as belated