Wednesday, December 5, 1973

Paul McCartney & Wings released Band on the Run: December 5, 1973

Originally posted December 5, 2011.

“The consensus of critics, as well as cold hard sales figures, says that Band on the Run was Paul McCartney’s most successful solo album.” RG “Neither the dippy, rustic Wild Life nor the slick AOR flourishes of Red Rose Speedway earned Paul McCartney much respect, so he made the self-consciously ambitious Band on the Run to rebuke his critics. On the surface, Band on the Run appears to be constructed as a song cycle in the vein of Abbey Road, but subsequent listens reveal that the only similarities the two albums share are simply superficial.” STE

“McCartney’s talent for songcraft and nuanced arrangements is in ample display throughout the record, which makes many of the songs – including the nonsensical title track – sound more substantial than they actually are. While a handful of the songs are excellent – the surging, inspired surrealism of Jet is by far one of his best solo recordings, Bluebird is sunny acoustic pop, and Helen Wheels captures McCartney rocking with abandon – most of the songs are more style than substance. Yet McCartney’s melodies are more consistent than any of his previous solo records, and there are no throwaways; the songs just happen to be not very good.” STE

“Still, the record is enjoyable, whether it’s the minor-key Mrs. Vandebilt or Let Me Roll It, a silly response to John Lennon’s ‘How Do You Sleep?,’ which does make Band on the Run one of McCartney’s finest solo efforts. However, there’s little of real substance on the record,” STE although it should be noted that the album is “an artistic triumph over very trying conditions – the defection of two-fifths of Wings.” RG Still, “no matter how elaborate the production is, or how cleverly his mini-suites are constructed, Band on the Run is nothing more than a triumph of showmanship.” STE

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, November 9, 1973

Billy Joel’s Piano Man released

First posted 5/9/2011; updated 9/21/2020.

Piano Man

Billy Joel

Released: November 9, 1973

Peak: 27 US, 98 UK, 26 CN, 14 AU

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 5.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Travelin’ Prayer (8/17/74, 77 US, 36 CL, 31 AC)
  2. Piano Man (2/23/74, 25 US, 1 CL, 4 AC, 10 CN, 20 AU, sales: 3 million)
  3. Ain’t No Crime
  4. You’re My Home (1981 live version: 100 AU)
  5. The Ballad of Billy the Kid (17 CL)
  6. Worse Comes to Worst (6/29/74, 80 US, 42 CL)
  7. Stop in Nevada
  8. If I Only Had the Words to Tell You
  9. Somewhere Along the Line
  10. Captain Jack (11 CL)

Total Running Time: 42:51


3.490 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

After failed albums with the Hassles, Attila, and his solo debut, Billy Joel left the east coast for Los Angeles, where he worked as a lounge singer for six months. Thanks to touring and hustling, he landed a contract with Columbia and recorded his second album. “Never mind Movin’ Out – Twyla Tharp should make a Broadway musical out of Joel’s second album, in which a scrappy Long Islander goes West, meets banjo players and decides he wants to be rock’s equivalent of Aaron Copland.” DB

The resulting Piano Man album showed inspiration from James Taylor and Elton John, specifically the latter’s Tumbleweed Connection, both musically and lyrically. AMG With the exception of You’re My Home, a love letter to his wife, he abandoned the more introspective fare of Cold Spring Harbor “for character sketches and epics.” AMG

This is especially notable in the title cut, which became one of Joel’s signature songs. He he offered a fictionalized version of his job as a lounge singer, but rather than focus on himself, he focused on the patrons who inhabited the bar. The song reversed Joel’s fate, reaching the top 40 in the U.S. and putting him on the map.

He still had weaknesses as a lyricist; as evidenced by “mishaps [such] as the ‘instant pleasuredome’ line in ‘You’re My Home’” AMG and “his narratives are occasionally awkward or incomplete” AMG but he “makes it clear that his skills as a melodicist can dazzle.” AMG

He “may have borrowed his basic blueprint from Tumbleweed Connection, particularly with its Western imagery and bluesy gospel flourishes, but he makes it his own” AMG “thanks to his indelible melodies and savvy stylistic repurposing.” AMG Songs like The Ballad of Billy the Kid, which is about more than just the outlaw, showcase how no one other than Elton John “merged such playful grandiosity with so many hooks.” DB

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, October 5, 1973

Elton John released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: October 5, 1973

Originally published October 5, 2012.

image from

Release date: 5 October 1973
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding / Candle in the Wind (3/2/74, #6 US, #5 UK, #2 AC) / Bennie and the Jets (2/16/74, #1 US, #37 UK, #15 RB. sales: 1.0 m) / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (9/29/73, #2 US, #6 UK, #7 AC. sales: 1.0 m) / This Song Has No Title / Grey Seal / Jamaica Jerk Off / I’ve Seen That Movie Too / Sweet Painted Lady / The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34) / Dirty Little Girl / All the Girls Love Alice / Your Sister Can’t Twist But She Can Rock ‘N’ Roll / Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (7/7/73, #12 US, #7 UK) / Roy Rogers / Social Disease / Harmony

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.3 UK, 15.0 world

Peak: 18 US, 1 2 UK


Review: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is Elton John’s “commercial and creative apex.” ZS It “plays like a greatest hits album, overflowing with classic songs” RV which “remain standards more than 30 years later thanks to Bernie Taupin’s sharpest lyrics, John’s propulsive keyboard skills and vocals that leap into falsetto without losing any of their power.” TL This “flamboyant tour de force” ZS is “a recap of all the styles and sounds that made John a star” AMG although this was also where his “personality began to gather more attention than his music.” AMG He “achieved superstardom with this effort and never matched its mastery again.” RV

The was recorded in a mere 12 days in Europe after a failed effort to record in Jamaica. CRS It “demonstrates the ease with which John and Taupin could write not only the hit singles, but the outstanding album tracks.” ZS While it has been called “Elton’s White AlbumZS and a “stunning song cycle with no filler” ZS this double album also can be said to suffer from being “overstuffed.” TL Nonetheless, it “holds claim to a lot of brilliant, very pop-savvy music” AZ and is “considered the high watermark of Elton’s reign of popularity.” CRS “Its individual moments are spectacular and the glitzy, crowd-pleasing showmanship…pretty much defines what made Elton John a superstar in the early ‘70s.” AMG

The opening kick-off of Funeral for a Friend and Love Lies Bleeding has been called both a “prog rock epic” AMG and a “Wagnerian-operalike combo.” RS500 The album quickly announces that it will be “all over the map” AMG by immediately careening into the balladry of Candle in the Wind,” AMG which pays tribute to Marilyn Monroe and, more than 20 years later, was revamped as a memorial to Princess Diana.

Candle in the Wind

There’s also “the ready-made nostalgia of The Ballad of Danny BaileyAZ which features “Bernie Taupin’s literary pretensions,” AMG, “the downbeat melodicism of Harmony,” AZ “novelties [like] Jamiaica Jerk-Off…and everything in between.” AMG

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Elton shows off his rock side with “the fairground jive of Your Sister Can’t TwistTB and “the strutting rock and roll” RS500 of “the Stonesy rocker Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” TB Meanwhile Bennie and the Jets “was a nod in the direction of Bowie’s Ziggy.” TB

Bennie and the Jets

Songs like “This Song Has No Title and Grey Seal had gospel-tinged melodies and progressions” TB and “the title track harnesses the fantastic imagery of glam to a Gershwin-sweet melody.” RS500

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Resources and Related Links:

  • Elton John’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • album page on DMDB website (even more in-depth look at album)
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • AZ review by Rickey Wright
  • CRS Tim Morse (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Rock Songs of All Time. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  • RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
  • RS500 Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 162.
  • TL Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light (11/13/06).
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 134.


Friday, August 3, 1973

Stevie Wonder released Innervisions: August 3, 1973

Originally posted August 3, 2012.

image from

Release date: 3 August 1973
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Too High / Visions / Living for the City (11/10/73, #8 US, #15 UK, #1 RB) / Golden Lady / Higher Ground (6/18/73, #4 US, #29 UK, #1 RB, #41 AC) / Jesus Children of America / All in Love Is Fair / Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing (4/6/74, #16 US, #2 RB, #9 AC) / He’s Misstra Know It All (4/13/74, #10 UK)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.08 UK, 6.0 world

Peak: 4 US, 8 UK


Review: “The boy genius comes of age.” BL As “the preeminent artist of his era” BL with “a career full of towering achievements” RV and a “plethora of deeply funky soul recordings” WR Innervisions stands as Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.” RV This is “the summit of the wunderkind’s blend of funk-addled synth-pop and socially conscious lyrics.” UT He “dove headfirst into the murky waters of urban America (‘Living for the City’), while still finding time for romance with his Golden Lady.” VB He “mastered angry, socially conscious, ingenious music that remained danceable.” BL

“Introspective, melancholy, sassy and uplifting, it transcends all notions of soul as schmaltz.” WR It is “by far his most political work” RV with “songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the ‘60s dream – all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he’d written before.” AMG

Living for the City

Living for the City, “an eight-minute mini-epic,” AMG is “Wonder’s finest moment.” RV He “preaches without being preachy about the injustices suffered by the black community, using the microcosm of a Southern boy who visits New York City and gets arrested for drug trafficking. Wonder sings with unbridled emotion and ends the song with the hope that the listeners have learned something.” RV “He also uses his variety of voice impersonations to stunning effect.” AMG

Too High is just as stunning, a cautionary tale about drugs driven by a dizzying chorus of scat vocals and a springing bassline.” AMG That song and ‘Living for the City’ “make an especially deep impression thanks to Stevie’s narrative talents.” AMG

Higher Ground

Higher Ground, a funky follow-up to the previous album’s big hit (‘Superstition’), and Jesus Children of America both introduced Wonder’s interest in Eastern religion. It’s a tribute to his genius that he could broach topics like reincarnation and transcendental meditation in a pop context with minimal interference to the rest of the album.” AMG

“Wonder also made no secret of the fact that He’s Misstra Know-It-All was directed at Tricky Dick, aka Richard Milhouse Nixon, then making headlines (and destroying America’s faith in the highest office) with the biggest political scandal of the century.” AMG

He’s Misstra Know-It-All

Resources and Related Links:


Thursday, July 26, 1973

July 26, 1973: ZZ Top released Tres Hombres

First posted April 28, 2008. Last updated September 9, 2018.

Tres Hombres

ZZ Top

Released: July 26, 1973

Sales (in millions):
US: 5.0
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 5.0

US: 8
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

Quotable: ZZ Top “never got it better than they did here” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Genre: classic rock/blues rock

Album Tracks:

  1. Waitin’ for the Bus
  2. Jesus Just Left Chicago
  3. Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
  4. Master of Sparks
  5. Hot, Blue and Righteous
  6. Move Me on Down the Line
  7. Precious and Grace
  8. La Grange (3/30/74, #41 US)
  9. Sheik
  10. Have You Heard?

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.


For their third album, ZZ Top brought in Terry Manning as engineer and were rewarded with their commercial breakthrough when the album landed in the top ten of the Billboard album chart. “It couldn’t have happened to a better record. ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy blooze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table.” STE

In his Rolling Stone review of Tres Hombres, Spanish for “three men,” Steve Apple said they were “one of the most inventive of the three-piece rockers” WK with “the dynamic rhythms that only the finest of the three-piece bands can cook up.” WK However, he also said they were “only one of several competent Southern rocking bands” with “an advantage over most white rockers” because they “sound black” WK and he wondered when “audiences will get tired of hearing the same ... ‘Poot yawl hans together' patter.’” WK

All Music Guide’s somewhat agreed with that assessment, saying there’s seemingly “nothing really special about the record, since it’s just a driving blues-rock album from a Texas bar band, but that’s what’s special about it. It has a filthy groove and an infectious feel, thanks to Billy Gibbons’ growling guitars and the steady propulsion of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard’s rhythm section. They get the blend of bluesy shuffles, gut-bucket rocking, and off-beat humor just right.” STE

Pitchfork’s Andy Beta called it “a masterful melding of complementary styles, cramming Southern rock and blues boogie through the band’s own idiosyncratic filter.’” WK In 2013, Andrew Dansby said in the Houston Chronicle that the album was “full of characters and doings so steeped in caricature – yet presented straight-faced – as to invite skepticism. The album is stuffed with color and flavor.” WK

“ZZ Top’s very identity comes from this earthy sound and songs as utterly infectious as Waitin’ for the Bus, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Move Me on Down the Line, and the John Lee Hooker boogie La Grange. In a sense, they kept trying to remake this record from this point on – what is Eliminator if not Tres Hombres with sequencers and synthesizers? – but they never got it better than they did here.” STE

Review Source(s):


Related DMDB Link(s):

Wednesday, June 27, 1973

Aerosmith released “Dream On” - for the first time

Updated 1/21/2019.

image from

Dream On


Writer(s): Steven Tyler (see lyrics here)

Released: 6/27/1973

First Charted: 10/6/1973

Peak: 6 US, 6 CB, 6 HR, 10 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, 0.25 UK, 0.25 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: 1.0

Video Airplay *: 81.0

Streaming *: --

* in millions


“Dream On” was a power ballad from Aerosmith’s 1973 self-titled debut album. The song is “famous for its building climax to showcase [leader singer Steven] Tyler’s trademark screams.” WK He began writing it in his late teens and “was still at it in Aerosmith’s early days, pounding a piano in the basement of the group’s living quarters.” RS500 He worked on the song off and on for about six years before completing it with the help of the rest of the band. SF He said it was originally just a little sonnet which he never thought would end up as a real song. SF

Legend has it that Tyler finished the song on a keyboard he bought with money he found in a suitcase outside of where the band was staying. Tyler didn’t tell his bandmates he took the money and played dum when gangster came looking for it. SF

The song is, in Tyler’s words, “about the hunger to be somebody. Dream until your dreams come true.” SF Guitarist Joe Perry told Classic Rock magazine that he didn’t like the song because “back in those days you made your mark playing live. And to me rock ‘n’ roll’s all about energy and putting on a show. Those were the things that attracted me…but ‘Dream On’ was a ballad. I didn’t really appreciate the musicality of it until later.” SF He realized “if you wanted a top forty hit, the ballad was the way to go.” SF

When released as the band’s first single in 1973, “Dream On” stalled at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song was re-released at the end of 1975 after the band found top 40 success with “Sweet Emotion.” The song hit the top ten in its second run at the charts. In 2003, rap singer Eminem revived the song again when he sampled it on his top 20 hit “Sing for the Moment.” Perry played guitar on the track and Tyler’s vocals were sampled. SF

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Friday, June 15, 1973

Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On”: Even Jack Black Can’t Deny Its Charms

Originally posted June 15, 2011.

On June 15, 1973, Marvin Gaye released what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls “the unabashedly erotic ‘Let’s Get It On’.” It topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in the U.S. and ranks as one of the top 1000 songs of the 20th century according to Dave’s Music Database.

However, as a testament to Gaye’s phenomenal catalog, it is often overshadowed by his definitive version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his politically poignant “What’s Going On.” Both songs are featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999. When it comes to sensuality and sexual explicitness, “Sexual Healing” steals some of the thunder from “Let’s Get It On” because it marked a comeback for Gaye before he was tragically shot by his father.

All three songs are named in the Rock Hall’s list of Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and sit alongside “Let’s Get It On” on the DMDB top 1000 song list. Competing with such bona fide classics can be a daunting task.

According to Wikipedia, Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the song, had originally conceived it with a religious theme. It then became a political song before evolving into what Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of erotic persuasion” in naming it one of the top 500 songs of all time. In 2008, Billboard magazine produced a list of its Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. It called “Let’s Get It On,” which came in at #32, “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.”

Just this week, I watched High Fidelity again. John Cusack’s character runs a record store, giving him access to more obscure music than the general population. Nonetheless, he and his girlfriend proclaim “Let’s Get It On” as their song. When Cusack hosts a party at the movie’s conclusion, he is understandably nervous about letting co-worker Jack Black to perform, convinced he’ll offend everyone. After all, Black had mercilessly berated a customer earlier in the movie for asking for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Instead, Black surprises Cusack with a soulful version of “Let’s Get It On,” proving that even the most cynical music fans can’t deny what Gaye called the “aphrodisiac power” RS of the song.

For more information, check out Marvin Gaye’s entry in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia and the DMDB page for the Let’s Get It On album. Gaye is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He ranks in the top 100 of all time as both a singer and songwriter according to Dave’s Music Database.

Saturday, May 26, 1973

Deep Purple hit the charts with “Smoke on the Water”

Updated 1/26/2019.

image from

Smoke on the Water

Deep Purple

Writer(s): Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice (see lyrics here)

Released: May 1973

First Charted: 5/26/1973

Peak: 4 US, 3 CB, 2 HR, 21 UK, 2 CN, 54 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 103.0

Streaming *: --

* in millions


Ritchie Blackmore’s opening guitar riff has become legendary; it has been “painstakingly imitated by budding guitar players of many future generations, and also patiently taught to the younger set by Jack Black in the movie School of Rock.” UCR Total Guitar magazine ranked it the fourth greatest guitar riff ever. WK Keyboardist Jon Lord said the song’s working title was “‘Durh Durh Durh’ – a transliteration of the riff.” RS500

The song came about in 1971 during Deep Purple’s visit to Montreux, Switzerland – home of the famed Montreux Jazz Festival. While the band were busy recording their Machine Head album at the Montreux Casino complex, a concert-goer shot off a flare gun during a show by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The place caught fire and destroyed the venue.

Bassist Roger Glover came up with the title “Smoke on the Water” to describe how the smoke from the fire was rising over Lake Geneva while the band watched. Glover said “It was probably the biggest fire I’d ever seen…in my life.” WK Lead singer Ian Gillan described it as “an inferno…The wind was coming down off the mountains and blowing the flames and the smoke over the lake. And the smoke was just like a stage show and it was hanging on the water.” UCR His subsequent lyrics offered up a scene-by-scene account of the debacle. UCR

Deep Purple relocated to the practically deserted Montreux Grand Hotel to complete work on Machine Head. They converted hallways and stairwells into a makeshift studio. WK The band were were rushed to finish and wrote much of the material on the spot. However, “Smoke on the Water” serves as “evidence that perhaps sponaeity was a very good thing.” UCR

The Machine Head album was released in March 1972 and supported by the release of the singles “Highway Star” and “Never Before.” It wasn’t until more than a year later when “Smoke on the Water” was released as a single. The band didn’t expect it to be a hit, but the song went top 5 in the U.S. and Canada. WK

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Saturday, April 28, 1973

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon hit #1

First posted 4/28/2012; updated 3/30/2019.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
  1. Speak to Me (Mason) [1:16]
  2. Breathe (Gilmour/ Waters/ Wright) [2:44]
  3. On the Run (Gilmour/ Waters) [3:33]
  4. Time/Breathe Reprise (Gilmour/ Mason/ Waters/ Wright) [7:06] (live – 12/10/88, #34 AR)
  5. The Great Gig in the Sky (Wright/Torry) [4:44]
  6. Money (Waters) [6:32] (5/7/73, #13 US, #37 AR)
  7. Us and Them (Waters/ Wright) [7:40] (2/4/74, --)
  8. Any Colour You Like (Gilmour/ Mason/ Wright) [3:25]
  9. Brain Damage (Waters) [3:50]
  10. Eclipse (Waters) [2:04]

Released: March 1, 1973

Charted: March 17, 1973

Sales (in millions): 18.0 US, 3.91 UK, 45.0 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 11 US, 2 UK, 1 AU, 1 CN

Genre: classic psychedelic/progressive rock

Quotable: “One of the most consistently popular albums of all time.” – Tim Morse, Classic Rock Stories


Dark Side of the Moon is that rare album to garner astronomical sales…, staggering chart success (a record-setting 14 years+ on the Billboard album chart and “294 weeks on the UK album chart” CA and near-reverential critical acclaim.

No one could have foreseen the impending success based on Floyd’s first five years. They burst out of the gates with 1967’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, an album spearheaded by then-leader Syd Barrett. When he “disappeared into a psychedelic haze” BN and mental instability, the band carved out a new identity, with leanings toward more progressive rock. With Dark Side of the Moon, “Pink Floyd…finally ditch their primal Syd Barrett psychedelia” Q by crafting an album “that is discovered anew by each generation of rock listeners.” AMG

“There's…something reassuringly obscure” SM about the album. “Setting aside [its] historical baggage,” PK “it is fascinating that an album whose central theme is madness” CRS “or things that drive people mad” CA “would become one of the most consistently popular albums of all time.” CRS “The band could hardly be accused of going for populist themes;” SM they tackle “death, violence, and paranoia” SM as well as “alienation, insanity and the tragedy of the human condition.” RV Perhaps because of that, the band received “the kind of cult adoration usually only granted to those whose critical cachet is in direct inverse to their popular appeal.” SM Put another way, “it's a long way from Saturday Night Fever.” SM

“The subtly textured music…evolves from ponderous, neo-psychedelic art rock to jazz fusion and blues-rock before turning back to psychedelia.” AMG “The sound is lush and multi-layered;” RS it's dense with detail, but leisurely paced.” AMG “Pink Floyd doesn’t rush anything; the songs are mainly slow to mid-tempo, with attention paid throughout to musical texture and mood,” AZ consquently “creating its own dark, haunting world.” AMG

“The primary revelation of Dark Side of the Moon is what a little focus does for the band.” AMG As far as previous endeavors went, “there was a lot of self-indulgent nonsense before this album happened along.” CDAtom Heart Mother and Meddle had hinted at Floyd's potential,” Q the latter of which “pointed the way forward with its epic ‘Echoes’ track, but this time the concept would be carried through the entire album.” SM “By condensing the sonic explorations of Meddle to actual songs and adding a lush, immaculate production to their trippiest instrumental sections, Pink Floyd inadvertently designed their commercial breakthrough.” AMG

Dark Side of the Moon isn't as much a concept album as a continuous, masterful” RV “piece of music.” DD ”The success of the album owes more to the cohesiveness of the record as a whole, rather than the strength of any individual songs.” PKDark Side of the Moon isn't ten of the greatest tracks ever written…it's ten tracks that work brilliantly in combination - a whole more than the sum of its parts.” AD

The History:

Initially, Waters came up with “an idea for a song about insanity…during the Meddle sessions. A little later, the group found themselves in Nick Mason’s kitchen discussing the idea of a suite of songs all linked together. The insanity idea was held - madness, death, aging” AD and “Waters wrote a series of songs about mundane, everyday details which aren't that impressive by themselves.” AMG In fact, “they resemble a philosophical treatise much more than the outlook of an emotion-full poet…this is Doctor R. Waters, Ph.D., who has just finished adding rhymes to his latest thesis.” GS Still, “when given the sonic backdrop of Floyd's slow, atmospheric soundscapes and carefully placed sound effects, [the songs] achieve an emotional resonance.” AMG

While “Roger Waters’ [possesses an] almost peerless genius for writing profoundly evocative, yet unforced lyrical metaphors,” RV “the album [also] exemplifies Pink Floyd's musical range and technical virtuosity.” RV “David Gilmour’s “vocals are at their best” PK and his “guitar throughout is inspired, mixing jagged blues playing with atmospheric slide motifs and chords.” SM This “catches the band at its peak -- more musically varied than the spaced-out folkie-experimental music of Floyd's earlier albums, and less prone to Roger Waters' oppressive worldview than later albums.” PK

”Much of the album had been performed live under the title of Eclipse for some time before the Floyd even entered the studio, which accounts for it's instrumental cohesion. It also allowed the band time to experiment with the various segues and moods.” SM

The album “was recorded at the world famous Abbey Road Studio's in London, from June 1972 through to January 1973.” CA “By now the band were acknowledged masters of technology, and they utilised the latest facilities Abbey Road had to offer, ably assisted” SM by “their long-time engineer, Alan Parsons.” CD

“From an audiophile’s standpoint” CRS “technology wise, [Dark Side] was way ahead of it’s time.” CA “Copies…could always be found in hi-fi stores. Because of it's sound production, it was frequently used to demonstrate the latest range of turntables/amps/speakers as they came onto the market.” CA “Cosy couples happy in their new homes rushed out to buy copies…to play on their newly installed state-of-the-art Seventies hi-fi equipment, safe in the knowledge that here was the very best audio quality the world had to offer.” AD The album became “one of the great headphone albums and…the album of choice for a generation of herbal adventurers.” SM

”No previous album boasted such an immaculate production or such a huge load of special effects.” GS “This record is a follow-up to [The Beatles’] Sgt. Pepper with its wide variety of sound effects… and studio trickery” CRS “from stereophonically-projected footsteps and planes flying overhead (‘On the Run’) to a roomful of ringing clocks (‘Time’)” CD to “Money” with its “sampled sounds of clinking coins and cash registers turned into rhythmic accompaniment.” AZ The effects “are impressive, especially when we remember that 1973 was before the advent of digital recording techniques.” AZ

“Further adding to the record's mystique” CD is the “use of disembodied voices;” SM that is, “barely audible spoken passages [that] were sprinkled throughout--a result of hours interviewing random Abbey Road occupants about their views on insanity, violence and death.” CD

“The band would hold up cards with questions…such as ‘When was the last time you hit someone?’ or ‘What do you think of death?’ The most useful answers came from Abbey Road's Irish doorman - who contributed the album's stark final line: ‘There is no dark side of the moon really, matter of fact it's all dark’ - and roadie Roger the Hat, whose manic laughter was particularly apposite. Paul and Linda McCartney also took part, but their answers lacked the spontaneity of the others and weren’t used.” SM The “taped speech fragments may be old hat, but for once they cohere musically.” RC

The Songs:

As for the actual songs, the album kicks off with Speak to Me, a song composed by Nick Mason, which “gives us a good indication of what's to come throughout the rest of the album.” CA

“The screaming that ends ‘Speak to Me’…flows wonderfully” AD into the “sweeping glissando” SM of Breathe. “When David Gilmour finally sings…it's like being pulled up from the bottom of the ocean gasping for air.” RV “Waters rewrote ‘Breathe’ after its appearance on his and avant-garde composer Ron Geesin's score for The Body, a surreal medical documentary.” CD The track is “so laid back and relaxing, you'll be almost horizontal.” CA

“The non-vocal On the Run is a standout with footsteps racing from side to side” RS that “really does give the effect of being chased.” CA The song “evolved in the studio” SM as “an opportunity for the band to dabble and experiment with the (then) new VCS3 Synthesizer.” CA

“As ‘On the Run’ fades out oh so quietly, the clocks and ringing of Time literally leap out and grab your ears and tear them from the side of your head.” AD Pair that with David Gilmour’s “blistering guitar solo” CA and this “fine country-tinged rocker” RS may well be “the highlight track on the album.” CA “’Time’ illustrates one of the leading factors of insanity…Waters’ lyrics point out, ‘You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today / And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you.’” RV

”There's more laid-back stuff on the reprise of ‘Breathe’ before going on to hear a superb vocal performance by session singer Clare Torry, on The Great Gig in the Sky. “She puts everything she's got into her part;” CA she “enriches the already beautiful Rick Wright composition…with some terrific vocal wailing.” AD The song “is spooky; it's glorious perfect music.” AD

On Money, “cash registers rattle and coins chink from left speaker to right speaker on the introduction.” CA The song, which “illuminates humanity's greed behind the façade of charity,” RV features “another excellent…trademark guitar solo” CA from Gilmour and a bass line which is truly “something special.” GS The song “is broadly and satirically played with appropriately raunchy sax playing by Dick Parry,” RS “a long time friend of the band.” CA The song “has had loads of airplay over the years on radio stations all over the world” CA and while it “became a breakthrough hit for the group in the U.S.,” AD there were actually “no singles…taken from the album in the U.K.” AD

”The music to Us and Them…had been kicking around the Floyd camp since 1969.” CA “Originally titled ‘The Violence Sequence,’” CD the song “evolved from a piano piece Rick Wright had written for the soundtrack of Zabriskie Point,” SM “a study of American materialism from a foreigner's perspective.” CD The song “starts off quietly, but builds…into a really big production.” CA The song is also blessed with another “wonderfully-stated, breathy solo” RS from saxophonist Parry.

”The instrumental Any Colour You Like is a fantastic little track that once again uses the synthesizer to maximum effect; it will give your stereo a good testing.” CA

The lyric ”’the lunatic is on the grass’ opens Brain Damage,” AD “complete with manic ramblings in the background.” CA The song “clearly draw inspiration from [Syd Barrett’s] fate as rock’s most celebrated acid casualty.” SM

“Another gem of a track, the superb Eclipse,” CA “sounds like the end of a film, the end of an opera or stage show. It fades out to mirror the sound of a heart beat, the same kind of sound that opened the album.” AD Hence, Pink Floyd conclude their “dark symphony…it's clear that the entire world has gone mad and there may be no hope for anyone.” RV It then wraps up with the aforementioned words of Abbey Road’s doorman: “there is no dark side of the moon really, as a matter of fact it's all dark.”

Dark Side of the Moon was a benchmark record…[it] changed things considerably for Pink Floyd.” CD “The enormous success…was a double-edged sword…the band suddenly found itself playing football stadiums to huge crowds…Creatively, it almost finished them. They briefly toyed with the idea of making an album using nothing but household objects, which must have enthralled their record company.” SM

“Pink Floyd may have better albums,” AMG but “when it comes to their best album, however defined, it's just too hard to avoid Dark Side of the Moon. Sure, its insights are probably more meaningful to stoned teenagers with headphones than to adults listening carefully to the lyrics. But…it still makes for a consistently enjoyable listening experience.” PK “No other record defines them quite as well as this one.” AMG Dark Side of the Moon is that rare album to garner astronomical sales (45 million worldwide, making it one of the top three best-selling albums of all time), staggering chart success (a record-setting 14 years+ on the Billboard album chart and 294 weeks on the UK album chart), CA and near-reverential critical acclaim.

Review Source(s):