''The Dark Side of the Moon'' is the eighth studio album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, released on 1 March 1973. It built on ideas explored in the band's earlier recordings and live shows, but lacks the extended instrumental excursions that characterised their work following the departure in 1968 of founder member, principal composer, and lyricist, Syd Barrett. The themes on ''The Dark Side of the Moon'' include conflict, greed, the passage of time, and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by Barrett's deteriorating mental state.
Developed during live performances, an early version of the suite was premiered several months before studio recording began; new material was recorded in two sessions in 1972 and 1973 at 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 the band's road crew and others provided the philosophical quotations used throughout. Engineer Alan Parsons was responsible for some of the album's most notable sonic aspects and the recruitment of non-lexical singer Clare Torry. The album's iconic sleeve, designed by Storm Thorgerson, features a prism that represents the band's stage lighting, the record's lyrical themes, and keyboardist Richard Wright's request for a "simple and bold" design.
''The Dark Side of the Moon'' was an immediate success; it topped the ''Billboard'' Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week and remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. It produced two singles, "Money" and "Time". ''The Dark Side of the Moon'' is Pink Floyd's most popular album among fans and critics, and has been ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time.
== Background ==
Following the release of ''Meddle'' in 1971, Pink Floyd assembled for an upcoming tour of Britain, Japan and the United States in December of that year. Rehearsing in Broadhurst Gardens in London, there was the looming prospect of a new album, although their priority at that time was the creation of new material. In a band meeting at drummer Nick Mason's home in Camden, bassist Roger Waters proposed that a new album could form part of the tour. Waters' idea was for an album that dealt with things that "make people mad", focusing on the pressures faced by the band during their arduous lifestyle, and dealing with the apparent mental problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett. The band had explored a similar idea with 1969's ''The Man'' and ''The Journey''. In an interview for ''Rolling Stone'', guitarist David Gilmour said: "I think we all thought – and Roger definitely thought – that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect. There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific."
Generally, all four members agreed that Waters' concept of an album unified by a single theme was a good idea.〔 Waters, Gilmour, Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright participated in the writing and production of the new material, and Waters created the early demo tracks at his Islington home in a small recording studio he had built in his garden shed. Parts of the new album were taken from previously unused material; the opening line of "Breathe" came from an earlier work by Waters and Ron Geesin, written for the soundtrack of ''The Body'', and the basic structure of "Us and Them" was taken from a piece originally composed by Wright for the film ''Zabriskie Point''. The band rehearsed at a warehouse in London owned by the Rolling Stones, and then at the Rainbow Theatre. They also purchased extra equipment, which included new speakers, a PA system, a 28-track mixing desk with four quadraphonic outputs, and a custom-built lighting rig. Nine tonnes of kit was transported in three lorries; this would be the first time the band had taken an entire album on tour, but it would allow them to refine and improve the new material,〔 which by then had been given the provisional title of ''Dark Side of the Moon'' (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy). However, after discovering that that title had already been used by another band, Medicine Head, it was temporarily changed to ''Eclipse''. The new material premièred at The Dome in Brighton, on 20 January 1972, and after the commercial failure of Medicine Head's album the title was changed back to the band's original preference.
''Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics'', as it was then known,〔 was performed in the presence of an assembled press on 17 February 1972 – more than a year before its release – at the Rainbow Theatre, and was critically acclaimed. Michael Wale of ''The Times'' described the piece as "... bringing tears to the eyes. It was so completely understanding and musically questioning." Derek Jewell of ''The Sunday Times'' wrote "The ambition of the Floyd's artistic intention is now vast."〔 ''Melody Maker'' was, however, less enthusiastic: "Musically, there were some great ideas, but the sound effects often left me wondering if I was in a bird-cage at London zoo." The following tour was praised by the public. The new material was performed live, in the same order in which it would eventually be recorded, but obvious differences between the live version, and the recorded version released a year later, included the lack of synthesizers in tracks such as "On the Run", and Bible readings that were later replaced by Clare Torry's non-lexical vocables on "The Great Gig in the Sky".〔
The band's lengthy tour through Europe and North America gave them the opportunity to make continual improvements to the scale and quality of their performances. Work on the album was interrupted in late February when the band travelled to France and recorded music for French director Barbet Schroeder's film, ''La Vallée''. They then performed in Japan and returned to France in March to complete work on the film. After a series of dates in North America, the band flew to London to begin recording the album, from 24 May to 25 June. More concerts in Europe and North America followed before the band returned on 9 January 1973 to complete work on the album.
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