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Reaching its 50th Birthday this year, why does Dark Side of the Moon still hold sway in listeners lives.

One of the most popular albums of all time is Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was first released almost fifty years ago, and it is still by far the most popular concept album ever.

The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and later Pink Floyd albums, which many fans could say are superior concept albums, are all dwarfed by DSOTM's 45 million claimed sales, as are all other rivals. However, the rest of the world disagrees.

Moreover, it goes beyond merely the sales though only four albums have sold more: Thriller, Back In Black, Bat Out Of Hell, and the soundtrack to The Bodyguard.

Dark Side Of The Moon's chart run was the longest of any album. It spent almost 15 years on the Billboard chart and would still be there today if not for a sneaky rule modification in the late 1980s that rendered it ineligible.

Even yet, it has been on the charts for more than three longer years than its closest competitor, Bob Marley's Legend. With vinyl represses and surround sound versions, it continues to sell more than a quarter of a million copies annually.

Dark Side Of The Moon is the perfect album to demonstrate the power of surround sound, if there ever was one.

It was among the first albums to be made available in Quad, a format that has long since been relegated to the technological waste bin.

The band's dominant, if not yet dominant, force at the time they recorded Dark Side Of The Moon, Roger Waters, has his own theory.

Although the music is incredibly captivating, he believes that there is something more. Perhaps the concepts' clarity appeals to a generation going through adolescence and attempting to make sense of it all because they are simple.

There is undoubtedly some truth to Roger's notion, especially if you believe—as the majority of women do—that most males never develop past puberty.

Men can listen to Dark Side Of The Moon repeatedly. Dark Side Of The Moon wonderfully captured the mood when it was released in March 1973, more than a year after the band had shown off the majority of the songs at London's Rainbow Theatre.

The market for rock music among young people was rapidly rising, audio equipment had recently become more affordable, and cannabis was becoming more readily accessible.

Dark Side was the ideal stereo album, and a carefully rolled Camberwell carrot really increased the album's joys.

Also, headphones were a must. A Scottish voice stating, "I've been mad for fucking years," and a manic chuckle could be heard when you reclined, but they were soon drowned out by a helicopter noise that whirred from one ear to the other. 

That then bumps into a woman's screams before giving way to Breathe's quiet, purposeful beat and calming chords.

Thoughts of voices, footsteps, aeroplanes, and feedback suddenly rush by on either side of your head as the song abruptly shifts gears just as you've begun to become comfortable with it.

You are then pulled forward by a quick hi-hat rhythm and electronic riff. A muffled explosion and additional rushing footsteps signal the conclusion.

As it fades away, you can hear the familiar tick of a clock, which has just enough time to soothe you once more before an alarm clock cacophony shocks your senses and ushers in Time's heaving, lumbering guitar chimes.

There are still 35 minutes left in the album after eight minutes have passed. The album's sonic experience is as as vibrant today as it was back then. Dark Side Of The Moon is a somewhat loose concept album.

In one of his interviews drummer Nick Mason mentions, "The concept evolved out of group talks about the pressures of real life, like travel or money, but then Roger enlarged it into a meditation on the origins of insanity."

After losing Syd Barrett, their creative force, to drug use and a mental breakdown at the start of the 1970s, Pink Floyd spent the decade searching for a new path.

They lacked the instrumental skill of fellow progressive rockers ELP, the amazing tales of Yes, the androgyny of David Bowie, and the art school posture of Roxy Music.

However, Atom Heart Mother and Meddle had at least given them a developing sense of their own musical identity with its sidelong Echoes epic.

Roger gave Dark Side Of The Moon's music a purpose by deciding to compose all of the lyrics.

Breathe and On The Run allude to the pressures of daily existence, Time and The Great Gig In The Sky address the fear of ageing, loss, and death, Money returns to the merciless struggle for survival, and Us And Them focuses on conflict and violence.

Themes of isolation, paranoia, and mental collapse permeate the final three songs, Any Color You Like, Brain Damage, and Eclipse.

Later Pink Floyd albums would see Roger pursuing these themes with a passion, motivated by his loathing of authoritarian dictators and their bureaucratic goons as well as his rage over the passing of his father just after the end of World War II.

Syd Barrett's ghost hung above everything, watching Roger and the others from the other side.

However, these ideas were still simpler and easier to understand on Dark Side Of The Moon.

Over the course of around six weeks, the album's songs and fundamental framework came together. Before learning that Medicine Head, a lesser-known British band, had published an album with the same name, they even knew the title.

Pink Floyd had intended to call their forthcoming album Eclipse, but after Medicine Head's record failed to have any significant impression, they went back to Plan A.

While they spent six months in the studio between tours of Europe, America, and Japan, the recording process wasn't difficult.

David Gilmour believes that performing the songs live makes a significant difference. Of course, you couldn't do that today. You would be eliminated by bootlegging.

However, by the end of it the band knew the material when they entered the studio. The playing was outstanding. The atmosphere was natural.

Additionally, it was the final album in which every member of Pink Floyd contributed significantly.

Particularly on Any Colour You Like, Rick Wright's keyboard textures were a striking component of the music. He also penned Us And Them and The Great Gig In The Sky, two of the album's finest songs.

The latter was embellished by vocalist Claire Torry's wordless but emotive weeping, and it served as a potent capstone to the album's opening section.

Roger Waters gave Nick Mason the writing credit for the beginning Speak To Me, the instrumental overture, as a "gift," but his drumming provided the band with a strong platform on which to build.

The guitar performance of David Gilmour was outstanding throughout, despite the fact that his composition credentials were not particularly impressive. But as the solo on "Money" demonstrated, he could let loose when the mood struck. He sang around half of the tunes as well.

Around the band, recording technology was developing quickly. They created the helicopter noises using the new VCS3, the newest synthesiser on the market, albeit one that is still fairly basic, and Rick Wright creatively utilised it on On The Run.

To give the song more clarity and distinction, they switched to the new Dolby sound reduction system halfway through recording the album. But Roger's late decision to connect the songs using speech fragments was the true genius.

Roger Waters came up with a set of roughly 20 questions on cards. They were in chronological sequence and covered a wide range of topics, such as "What does the phrase The Dark Side Of The Moon signify to you?" and "When was the last time you were violent?" before moving on to "Do you think you were in the right?".

People were instructed to enter a studio that was vacant, look at the top card, respond to it, and then move on to the next card.

Roger used Pink Floyd's touring roadies as eager test subjects for his experiment; the road manager's voice can be heard at the album's opening.

But other bystanders joined in as well. Although their responses weren't used, Paul McCartney and Linda were enlisted to participate while they were both simultaneously recording at Abbey Road.

At the end of the album, "There is no dark side of the moon really matter of fact it's all dark", can be heard which was said by Jerry Driscoll, the doorman at Abbey Road 

As they got closer to the final mix, things started to become dicey, so they brought in Chris Thomas, the engineer behind The Beatles' White Album, as a second set of objective ears.

Hipgnosis, the band's album cover designers since 1968's Saucerful Of Secrets, were also brainstorming different concepts.

Storm Thorgerson recalls they had seven or eight, but Rick Wright, "who wanted something basic, clinical and exact," was the one who inspired the band to choose the cover.

Hipgnosis purposefully omitted the colour purple from the spectrum as the light travelled through the prism because they didn't think it would stand out against the background of black.

The gatefold sleeve was created so that the light rays on the inner and outer sleeves perfectly connected.

But neither "Pink Floyd" nor "Dark Side Of The Moon" were mentioned on the front, back, or spine of the book. The only reference, even on the inner sleeve, was "Produced by Pink Floyd" in the credits.

Unless you occurred to scan the lyrics on the inner sleeve and saw the final line of Brain Damage, "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon," the title didn't appear until you got to the record label.

A blurry, green-filtered image of the pyramids and a poster of the band, with an attempt to make the name Pink Floyd as hard to see as possible, were both stuck inside the record sleeve.

When Dark Side Of The Moon was released in late March 1973, it climbed the British charts fast to No. 2, passing Meddle by by one spot.

It was their first album to chart in America, where it spent one week at No. 1 in April.

However, the group had been on the road for a month in America and had performed the album there twice the year before.

The record company weren't paying much attention until they realised that the album had still been on the charts despite having fallen down the list. 

Into it's 964th week at the time of this publication DSOTM has still managed to remain on Billboards top 200.

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