The Dark Side Of The Moon (Immersion Box Set) – Pink Floyd
When it comes to Box Sets I generally stay well clear of the more expensive ones and in general stick to below the £100 price point. When it comes to value for money regarding any of these kinds of packages, I personally do not think the Jethro Tull Mediabook box sets can be beaten and they are sold at an honest price point and give you much more informative information and in some cases a lot more discs than what comes in box sets like the one I am about to review.
Not only that these Tull packages (as seen above) are a lot easier to store along with your DVD’s and Blu-Rays and you could most likely buy five of these packages for the original retail price of the package we have here.
When it comes to the big guns Pink Floyd has always been up there with the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and their box sets in general can cost you a lot more than an arm and a leg when it comes to the extortionate prices they can charge for them. Some of you would most likely have to sell a kidney to obtain them and they can run into the hundreds of pounds.
Back in 2020, I got lucky with the Wish You Were Here Immersion box set and managed to pick it up brand new on Amazon UK for £48. That’s around the same price the SACD of that album is selling for on the black market second hand and I saved over a hundred pounds on its original retail price tag. Since then I have had my eyes peeled on The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion box set waiting for what I would call the right price or at least a more respectable price point.
It was back at the beginning of April this year that I noticed Amazon UK were still wanting £137 for the box set and I also came across another online store selling it for £99. Though that was still more than I was willing to pay for it and slightly more than what I thought it was actually worth.
Being a surround FREAK! my main interest in this box set is the blu ray not for the 5.1 mix either because I already have that on SACD. The Quadrophonic mix is the most important thing to me as for most of the extra SWAG! that comes with these things it is only put in there to bump up the price of the box set and nothing more. I will however say that the booklets that come with them are quite good but as in most cases lack any real informative information.
It was on the 8th of April that I noticed the box set on another online retailer called Fishpond priced at £76.96. It’s very much an online store I have never used before I do believe their main base is in New Zealand and as with any store I have never used before I always check out reviews on places like Trust Pilot for safety purposes. The shipping price of £2.99 was very reasonable too and still to this day I have never seen this box set any cheaper so I took the plunge and purchased it.
At its price of £79.95 including shipping, it is the most expensive box set I have ever brought. It is also more than what I wanted to pay for it but personally for me this is the bands most iconic album and one that I would place in one of the four corners of the universe. It is most likely one of the most perfect albums that has ever been made which is why I shelled out the extra bucks for it.
However, having shelled out the bucks for it I was not expecting the nightmare that came along with it. If you’ve ever seen the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit you may be aware of the saying “this is pissing me off roger“. That literally was the case with this box set and I shall reveal more later in my review of it. But first, let’s take a look at how it comes.
Packaging & Artwork…
The actual packaging for The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion boxset is the same as how they later went on to do the Wish You Were Here boxset in that it’s made of cardboard, the size of a 12-inch vinyl album and very chunky. If you read my review of that Immersion box set you would have noticed how much more difficult it is to find the space to store them, especially if like myself you are not a vinyl collector.
I was left with no alternative but to get another media cabinet to accommodate them. As you can see I don’t have that many but at least now I have plenty of space to add more to it when the time comes, plus I have freed up more space for the more regular media items I buy. I also have another box set on pre-order that will be arriving in October. You could say it’s a bit of an Animal 😊😊😊.
The new design and artwork for the Immersion box were done at StormStudios with photography by Tony May, Storm Thorgerson & Rupert Truman. The graphics were done by Peter Curzon and the retouching up was done by Lee Baker. Personally, for me the new design they did for the front cover of the box set is not as impressive as what they did with the Wish You Were Here Immersion box and it looks as if they have been juggling around with spectrums and triangles. However, I do like some of the designs they have done in the booklet that comes with the package.
The Packaging Contents…
As with the Wish You Were Here Immersion Box this thing comes with pretty much the same items of swag ranging from scarfs, coasters, posters, memorabilia items and a bag of marbles. Many of these items are not really fit for the purpose they were made for such as the coasters and the scarf for example. I do however quite like the marbles and at least they printed the album’s artwork onto them, unlike the clear glass marbles that came with the WYWH Immersion Box.
You also get three booklets with this box set, a small 12-page credit one that gives you all the information that’s on the 6 discs. A quality 36-page booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson that contains the album liner production notes and lyrics. It also comes with some high-quality photos of various memorabilia and is very impressive. Plus you get a 20-page photo booklet which is also of very good quality.
One of the major flaws regarding the design of a box set like this is that not all the discs are stored in the same place or way. For example four of the discs are stored in the base of the box itself which means that you have to go through all that palaver of removing all the other content to get at them.
The other two discs come in single sleeves like a mini replica of a single-sleeved vinyl album. I suppose you could take them out and store them with your other media on a shelf, though unlike DigiPaks and DigiSleeves they are way too thin and you would have trouble finding them. Besides that, if you going to make a box set you really need everything to be in one place.
The Immersion Media In Review…
Pink Floyd’s Immersion Box Set of The Dark Side Of The Moon was released on the 27th of September 2011. The music media content that comes in the box set is spread over 6 discs 3 CDs, 2 DVDs and a Blu-Ray which very much makes this a box set where you are getting the same thing two or three times over. It’s also quite strange how they have actually numbered the discs for example you would expect the 3 CDs to be numbered from one to three but that is not the case here.
However, things like that are perhaps minuscule in relation to the nightmare that this box set presented to me when it arrived. To be honest, I never did my research very well when I reviewed the Wish You Were Here Immersion Box and I was under the impression that seeing how these box sets are still widely available they were still reissuing them, unlike a limited edition release.
It is however quite clear that is not the case and I perhaps should have taken the advice that my good friend Dirk Radloff mentioned about them being mostly aimed at serious record collectors and the biggest majority would not shell out the money for such an item which is perhaps why many of them are still around til this day.
I have no idea how many box sets were made back in 2011 but for those who live in Europe like myself, this box set comes with a major problem, especially for surround FREAKS! like myself. Simply because all the box sets that were made in Europe come with a faulty Blu-Ray that will not play at all. I was absolutely livid when I found this out and immediately repackaged the box set up to send it back to Fishpond for a refund and went to their website to file the return.
As I was not sending it back until the next day I spent a bit of time doing a bit of research, it was then that I discovered that it was only box sets that were made in Europe that had the faulty disc and they all displayed the word “False” (as seen above) when inserting them into your player. I also discovered that you could get the disc replaced and this is where the nightmare really began.
Originally you had to send the disc back to get it replaced but as time went by you could get it replaced by sending in proof of your purchase. To get your disc replaced you had to send in your proof via email to email@example.com to which you instantly get an automatic reply as seen below.
“The email account is only for issues relating to The Dark Side of The Moon Blu-ray contained within the Immersion Box Set, released in 2011. We can confirm new stock is in transit and will send out replacement Blu-ray’s within the next 2 weeks. Please provide evidence of proof of purchase and a post address”.
A month had passed by and I had not heard a dickie bird from them so I sent them a reminder and all I got was the same auto reply as above. So I decided to do a bit more research and found the company’s Facebook page and messaged them there. All I got back was “Thanks”. After 6 weeks this was really pissing me off and it was then I received an email from Fishpond wanting to know what was going on with my return to which I emailed them and explained the situation.
It was also at this point that I also sent in some pictures of me holding the box set beside the proof of purchase I had sent at the beginning. I not only emailed them but also sent them via Facebook Messenger. I was beginning to think that AeCreate.com was Snail.com and the person behind the company who is one Andy Evans came from the planet IGNORAMUS! 😊😊😊.
As to if Fishpond got in touch with them I could not tell you but about a week afterwards I finally received an email from them saying that they had sent out the replacement disc and I should get it in the next few days. Another 2 weeks went by and I still had not received it so I emailed them again. It finally arrived after some 3 months of complaining to them so you can imagine why it pissed me off so much.
Having to wait all that time also held back my review here although I do still have a few box sets that I purchased well over a year ago now that I still have not gotten round to reviewing. One of them still sits on my shelf unopened which arrived on the day of its release back in March last year.
I also have another box set that I purchased a month earlier in February 2021 and one more recently this year although this Alice Cooper box set of Detroit Stories is the only one that remains unopened. Hopefully, I shall get around to opening and reviewing it later this year but for now, let’s take a look at the content that comes with this box set starting with the CD’s.
The CD Content
CD 1. The first disc contains the original 10 album tracks remastered by James Guthrie & Joel Plante back in 2011. The Dark Side Of The Moon is an album that has been reissued near enough 1,200 times over the years since its release, I dare say the original master tapes have also gone through a few generations as well. However, considering the album has been reissued up to the hilt it has only been remastered 8 times and this is actually the second time that Guthrie and Plante had remastered the album which the first time was back in 2003 on its 30th Anniversary.
I do believe the reason why they decided to remaster the album again was that some people were complaining about the compression that was used on the 2003 remaster though, to be honest, there was no sign of brick walling on that edition. I also think they may have used the 20th Anniversary Edition remaster done by Doug Sax to work with as that was regarded as one of the best-sounding remasters which is why he also gets thanks in the credits.
To be honest, being the surround FREAK! that I am it’s very rare I will play the stereo mix and even though I purchased the 2003 SACD near enough some two decades ago I have never once played the stereo remaster. However, for this review, I played the 2003 and 2011 remasters back to back and I can honestly say that 2003 remaster in my opinion is absolute SHITE! in comparison to this 2011 remaster.
The 2011 remaster speaks to me more like I remember the vinyl album from the 70’s though regarding most remasters you are perhaps better off sticking with the original album. No remaster in my opinion will ever be as good as a remix simply because all you can really do is try and enhance a two-channel stereo recording. Whereas with a remix you have access to all the multi-tracks of the recording giving you much more to play with to achieve a better mix or result.
This is really why I am a surround FREAK! and I prefer a multichannel mix or remix in relation to any remaster. In most cases, multichannel recordings will offer you the best results including the 2003 5.1 mix which is an entirely different kettle of fish in relation to how bad that 2003 stereo remaster turned out.
CD 2. The second disc contains the albums 10 tracks live and these live recordings were taken from two of the three nights they played at the Londons Empire Pool during their British winter tour back in 1974. The band played at the venue from the 14th – 16th of November that year and was recorded by the BBC on the 15th & 16th. These live recordings of the album only were later broadcast on the Alan Freeman Show on BBC Radio 1 on the 11th of January 1975.
Other numbers that were played at these shows were an early version of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” as well as very early versions of “Sheep” and “Dogs” under different titles of “Raving and Drooling” and “You’ve Got to Be Crazy” which were used for the Wish You Were Here Immersion box set. They also ended off these shows with an encore of “Echoes” which was released later in 2016 on the 7th Volume entitled Continu/ation of the Early Years box set.
These recordings are all previously unreleased and are of excellent sound quality and are most welcome to find in the box set. Though of course they also released a 2 CD Experience Edition (as seen below) which also comes with these recordings on the second disc at a more respectable price. Pretty sure no double vinyl Experience Edition was released due to vinyl being out of circulation at the time.
No doubt since these live recordings were finally put out unofficial releases were bound to fly out of the woodwork such as this 3 LP vinyl set released in 2019 by Jules Records. You also get the whole of the set with this release although the recordings like we have here were taken from two of the three nights they played at the venue.
One of the things I like about these live recordings that come on the second disc is that many of the album tracks have been extended and this live version of The Dark Side Of The Moon runs for 55 minutes and you can literally hear every word. The mix was done by Andy Jackson & Damon Iddins and they really have done a GRAND! job here.
The other thing is that the band are only accompanied by Dick Parry’s saxophone and a couple of backing singers Vanetta Fields and Carlena Williams unlike the array of other musicians they had with them later on to perform their songs. In many respects, this sounds more like a proper live performance unlike later on where they polished things up. It just goes to show how well the band could perform without all those other musicians on the stage with them as well.
CD 3. The final CD is actually numbered Disc 6 and comes in a cardboard slipcase instead of with the other two CD’s that are stored in the base of the box. I did mention that it is a bit strange as to why they did this and the only reason that I can see is perhaps down to the fact that they could only fit four discs in the base of the box and kept things in unison by the putting the first two CD’s with the two DVD’s.
This disc contains 16 previously unreleased tracks spread over a playing time of 67 minutes, 17 seconds. The first 9 tracks contain the early 1972 mix of The Dark Side Of The Moon which is quite interesting in parts simply because various things had not been put into the final mix of the album at this stage. For example, the heartbeat on the intro written by Nick Mason entitled “Speak” was not written at this stage hence why the album only has 9 tracks instead of 10.
“The Great Gig In The Sky” is perhaps the most interesting track here has it does not contain the magic voice of Clare Torry, instead we get the words that were spoken by Gene Cernan who was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon.
The remaining 7 tracks you get are early studio demos and live recordings and once again the live recordings were mixed by Andy Jackson & Damon Iddins in 2010. The first of these extras “The Hard Way (From ‘Household Objects’)” is perhaps the odd one out simply because it was part of the Wish You Were Here album so I am not really sure why this was included here. Although down to the fact that it does have footsteps in it like “The Travel Sequence” (which is also included here) it could be seen as a precursor to “On The Run”.
You also get a longer live version of “The Travel Sequence” along with “The Mortality Sequence” and “Any Colour You Like” which were recorded live in Brighton back in 1972. “The Mortality Sequence” is “The Great Gig In The Sky” and in this version, it contains snippets of speeches by Malcolm Muggeridge, a British writer known for his conservative religious views reciting words from the bible.
Also included amongst the extra tracks are a Richard Wright piano demo of “Us And Them” and an acoustic demo of “Money” played and sung by Roger Waters. Overall this is another worthy inclusion to the box set and you had to buy the box set to get your hands on it as there was no individual release. Though I dare say it s plastered all over Youtube these days.
The DVD Content.
DVD 1. The first of the two DVD’s contains Audio content only and includes the 5.1 mix of the album tracks only that was done back in 2003 by James Guthrie with the assistant engineer Joel Plante. It also offers you the choice of 448kbps and 640kbps to choose from although the downside is that they are in Dolby Digital only. You also get the same choices for the original Quadrophonic mix which was done by Alan Parsons back in 1973 also included here is the original stereo mix from the same year which does offer you a better quality of LPCM 48KHz/24 bit.
DVD 2. The second DVD contains the bonus content which is mostly visual content and first up you get a couple of songs the band performed live at the Brighton Dome in England back on the 29th of June 1972. Both of these songs have no relevance to the album in question and it’s no surprise to see they are “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” and “Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun” which they literally played to death back then 😊😊😊. The audio was remastered by Andy Jackson in 2011 and sounds quite good even though it comes with a lower format of LPCM Stereo 48KHz/16 bit.
Also included is the 2003 25-minute documentary of the making of The Dark Side Of The Moon that was made for the 30th Anniversary of the album. I quite like this feature and remember seeing it on the TV around the time it came out too. The only real drawback to this documentary is that it’s relatively a lot shorter than the biggest majority of the same making of album documentaries that many other artists have put out. Once again the audio has been remastered in 2011 by Jackson and as with most of the bonus features, they are presented with the same audio format.
The final of the extra features you get here is the concert screen films from the British and French tours in 1974 and the North American tour in 1975. This is the longest feature and runs for approximately 59 minutes, 14 seconds and the visual content improves as it runs along. You also get the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 48K/24 and LPCM Stereo 48KHz/16 bit.
The Blu Ray.
The Blu Ray contains the same content that is on the two DVD’s though in terms of picture and sound quality I consider this to be the most important item that comes in the whole of this box set. To be perfectly honest there is no way I would have even considered buying this box set unless it came with a Blu Ray, the DVD’s are way inferior in comparison to it. Although I am of course mainly speaking in terms of the audio and not so much the picture quality as most of the visual content apart from the main menu is much older footage and is not in HD.
Blu Ray Main Menu
DVD Main Menu
Although it’s perhaps not as noticeable here with the snaps I took with my phone of both menus there is actually a major difference between the image quality of these menus. For example, the Blu Ray is very much sharp and pristine whereas the DVD is a bit like comparing a JPEG to GIF and looks blotchy sometimes it’s that blotchy that the yellow triangle looks like a square.
Both menus however are animated and various particles float around the screen and the white triangle circles its way around the blu triangle in the middle of the screen. They also have slightly different layouts in the way the material is presented. The DVD also uses an older navigation system where you have to wait for the next page to load when you click on the options on the menu.
The blu ray interface and layout as a much faster navigation system and rather than having to load to another page the option choices simply drop down and appear as you click on them. The Audio side of the menu (as seen in the screenshots above) contains the main feature which is the album and from here you can play the album, select a track to play and set up your choice of audio.
The audio side of things is really where the Blu Ray has the biggest advantage over the DVD and it offers uncompressed LPCM 24/96Khz across the board for the 5.1, Stereo and Quadrophonic mixes. In my opinion, the blu ray is very much the king of all audio and visual formats and it is the media that will give you the best result out of them all. Though I will say the SACD is about the closest audio format to it.
The final option in the Audio menu is the system setup and both the Blu-Ray and DVD come with a surround setup. Although you can just as easily do that on your AV Reciever and I myself prefer to do so and often find the ones put onto discs like this are only there to make it look like you got another added bonus.
The Visual content is where all the bonus material is kept and even though it’s on blu ray here it’s perhaps not really going to give you any better quality than the DVD and the audio quality is the same as that on the DVD which is to be expected for the type of footage you get here.
The only real downside regarding the blu ray is that just like they did with the WYWH Immersion box all you get is a blank screen when playing back the audio content. When you consider all of the different artwork Storm & Co had done for the album you would have thought they would have utilised it here and put it to good use.
Stereo & Surround Mixes.
When it comes to the advantages that the blu ray will give you in this box set I personally think that both the Stereo and Quad mixes are the key points and not so much the 5.1 mix because that was released on SACD back in 2003. Many will say that the 5.1 mix on the blu ray will give you a better result than the SACD and I have found in some cases that to be the case. Though I personally don’t think there is any real sonic difference between the both here and if there is I certainly cannot hear it.
Back in 2003 James Guthrie’s 5.1 mix, in my opinion, was the best way you could ever hear this album and I personally don’t think that has changed. However, what this box set gives you is also Alan Parsons original Quadrophonic mix that gives you another alternative way to listen to the album in surround and it was this mix that tempted me to get this box set in the first place.
I can honestly say I am not disappointed either and even though Persons stated in an interview that he rushed the Quad mix I personally think it is much better than Guthrie’s 5.1 mix. The Dark Side Of The Moon is an album that I have always considered to have a muddy mix in parts no matter what version you have and it is mainly on the vocals on the chorus sections of “Brain Damage” which have never been very clear. The only way you could ever understand what the hell they are saying in this chorus is to read the lyric sheet.
Although Parson’s quad mix is not gonna entirely gonna clear things up on the chorus sections of that song, it is however much better and not only that I can hear more things in his quad mix than Guthries 5.1 mix. The way that Parsons placed the instrumentation in his quad mix is also much better than Guthrie and he’s paid a lot more attention to how the instruments can be separated even down to how more effective they can work.
The chimes of the bells and everything about “Time” sounds a hundred times better on the quad mix in my opinion. Not only that the voices can be heard much more clearly, especially at the beginning and end of the album whereas Guthrie for some reason has turned them down which in my opinion was a stupid thing to do.
At the end of the day, both the 5.1 and Quad mixes will give you a very good immersive experience. You will also hear more things in both of these mixes in relation to any stereo mix. The Quad mix is well worthy of 10 out of 10 in my book whereas for the 5.1 mix I would give 8 out of 10.
The other good thing is that you do get Parsons original stereo mix and the mix you get here I personally think is better than Guthrie’s 2011 stereo remaster, although it is high res and uncompressed in relation to the CD. As I mentioned the Stereo and Quad mixes that come on the blu ray are the key points in relation to the 2003 SACD and are the only real reason to get this box set. Though I will stress it is an expensive price to pay to get your hands on them and there is no real reason why one should not be happy enough with the 5.1 mix that came on that SACD back in 2003.
The Album In Review…
Released on the 1st of March 1973 Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album The Dark Side Of The Moon is the very album that launched the band into an international success that much so that they could have easily retired with the wealth of money it made them. It is without a doubt in my opinion their most iconic album and the result came from the back of a lot of hard work from touring prior to the making and release of the album. Much of its idea came from the fact that the band had already worked on and made a longer piece with “Echoes” from their 1971 album Meddle which was an album you could say where the band had started to find their feet.
Due to its sales of more than 95 million copies worldwide, it is the bands most commercial-selling album reaching platinum status 15 times in both the UK and the US yet in reality it had way less promotion than their 1979 double album The Wall. Although the album hit the number 1 spot in many other countries on its release it failed to do that in the UK where it peaked at number 2. It did however hit number 1 in the US but only held that position for one week and it was due to the record company releasing “Money” as a single (in the US only) that it managed to do so.
In the UK it took two decades for the album to drop out of the top 100 albums chart and in the US it remained on the Billboard 200 albums chart for 736 nonconsecutive weeks (from 17 March 1973 to 16 July 1988). With its many reissues and remasters it has even managed to climb back into the top 100 and in some countries hit number one again. In 2012, the album was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
There can be no doubt that The Dark Side Of The Moon is an album that not only made a mark but a statement and that was partially down to the conceptional ideas and lyrics that Roger Waters wrote for it. It is one of the greatest albums of all time and its themes embark on life itself and the day-to-day pressures that are thrown upon us as we go through it. It deals with conflict, greed, time, death and even mental illness it’s no wonder the album appeals to so many.
The 10 tracks that make up the album have been skillfully stitched together to weave their way along its journey and are spread over an overall playing time of 42 minutes, 50 seconds which may not be perfect for vinyl due to restrictions. Though I will say the way things have been done here makes this one of the most perfect and not just one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Recorded mostly in Abbey Roads Studio 3 between June 1972 and January 1973 like The Beatles the band had always been into experimentation even to the point of using household objects. You could say that the money that Roger Waters had flipped into a ceramic bowl in his garden shed went on to make all four members of the band shed loads of the stuff. Though of course a lot more than that went into the development of this album and not only included the input from the other three members of the band but also the road crew and engineers.
We must also not forget Alan Parsons who incidentally started his career as a tape operator at Abbey Road Studios and worked on the Beatles albums Abbey Road and Let It Be. It was working on The Dark Side Of The Moon that also inspired him to make a successful career as an artist in his own right and that may have been down to see the members of the band become instant millionaires whereas he and the others involved in the making of the record got paid the standard rate for their services.
Besides the household objects, the band had started to experiment with loops and the use of the EMS Synthi AKS and EMS VC3 played quite a major role in putting the album together and was utilised by Waters, Gilmour and Wright. They also continued to use the analogue synth sequencer on the album that followed it Wish You Were Here.
EMS Synthi AKS & EMS VCS3
The AKS Synthi and VCS3 was created by Peter Zinovieff’s EMS company back in 1969 and was very popular with progressive rock bands back in its day Parsons himself even used it on his project album I Robot later in 1977. Even rock bands such as The Who used it and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin used it on “Four Sticks” on the bands fourth untitled studio album back in 1971.
Like much of the bands music it was often aired and performed live under a different title well before the album release. In the case of the material that was written for The Dark Side Of The Moon they performed all 10 tracks in the same order under the title of “A Piece for Assorted Lunatics” at London’s Rainbow Theatre on the 17th of February 1972 a good year before it was released.
Though of course, the album was nowhere near as developed as we know it and differences included the lack of synthesisers in tracks such as “On the Run” and Clare Torry’s vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky” being replaced by readings from the Bible. I do believe that they even named the tour they did back then The Eclipse Tour. Many bootlegs of the recording are still widely available today though I am sure if they were of reasonable enough quality the band would have included them in this box set.
To be honest it is amazing just how many things get leaked out and bootlegged and some people even go to the extremes of obtaining all sorts of information including this interview that Waters conducted with Roger “The Hat” one of the bands roadies.
Many of the bands road crew and engineers were interviewed and recorded on tape by Waters during the making of the album and asked all sorts of questions, he even interviewed Paul McCartney who was working in the studio on the Wings album Red Rose Speedway at the time. By the sound of this interview, he may have even provided the weed 😊😊😊. To be honest I don’t like publishing bootlegged material but I found this extremely funny.
Musicians & Credits…
All Tracks Written & Produced by Pink Floyd. All Lyrics by Roger Waters. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios London, England between June 1972 – January 1973. Engineered by Alan Parsons. Assistant Engineer Peter James. Quadrophonic Mix by Alan Parsons. 5.1 Mix by James Guthrie. Mastered by James Guthrie & Joel Plante at Das Boot Recording 2011. Graphics & Artwork by George Hardie. Pyramid Photography by Hipgnosis. Immersion Design by StormStudios.
David Gilmour: Vocals – Guitars – EMS Synthi AKS.
Roger Waters: Vocals – Bass Guitar – EMS VCS 3 – Tape Effects.
Richard Wright: Vocals – Hammond & Farfisa Organs – Piano & Electric Piano (Wurlitzer/Rhodes) – EMS VCS 3 – EMS Synthi AKS.
Nick Mason: Drums – Percussion – Tape Effects.
Dick Parry: Saxophone (Us and Them and “Money”).
Clare Torry: Vocals (The Great Gig in the Sky).
Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike, Barry St. John & Doris Troy: Backing Vocals.
The Album Tracks In Review…
The material that makes up The Dark Side Of The Moon was put together as two sides of a continuous piece of music that reflects upon the various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat. Roger Waters sums it up with one word “empathy” and no doubt it’s very fitting to the “BRILLIANT! lyrics and the subject matter they are pertaining to that he wrote for this album. The very fact that the band had already worked on longer pieces such as “Echoes” and the concept album appeared to be the IN-THING! around the time would have certainly provided the inspiration for this masterpiece of work.
Although I would not say that the collection of songs that were written for the album was one continuous song as “Echoes” was. However, they are very well amalgamated with how they have been skillfully woven together. So let’s now dive in a take a closer look as I go through the album tracks.
Track 1. Speak To Me.
The opening track and short introduction to the album is credited to Nick Mason though I am not entirely sure Mason composed everything you are hearing here or even if his bass drum provides the beating of the heart. I am not entirely sure it’s his voice we are hearing here either however it was not unusual for Mason to do voices for the band to which he also provided the voice on “One Of These Days”.
The instrumental piece is very much constructed with a collage of sound effects much of which is taken from various other tracks throughout the album including Clair Torry’s scream (Great Gig in the Sky). The manic laughter of the bands English road manager Peter Watts (Brain Damage) and various other sounds such as clicking clocks and helicopters (On The Run) down to the cash register (Money).
According to both Wright and Waters, the credit was a gift to him to give him some publishing income and I am pretty sure they also would have been involved with the EMS VCS 3 you are hearing here too. If anything “Speak To Me” is a short glimpse into the events that are about to unfold and even the reversed piano chord that was thrown in takes us nicely into the first song on the album.
Track 2. Breathe (In The Air).
The musical side of this song was penned by Gilmore & Wright and I love the way this song smoothly glides its way along to which Gilmore’s job on the lap steel coupled with Wright’s keyboards very much play a major role in making that happen. As with much of the vocal duties on this album they are handled by Gilmore and his voice on this song also works smoothly and has a certain amount of calmness which is well apt for the GREAT! words Waters penned for it.
The lyrical content embarks on the importance of living one’s own life and the short amount of time we have to live it so to speak. “Breath” is very much a thematic piece and its strong theme evokes it enough for it to reappear later on, even with its slower pace it is one of the stronger songs on the album. It’s also my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 3. On The Run.
The second of three instrumental tracks on the album and quite an effective piece that was constructed and put together by Gilmour and Waters. Both the EMS Synthi AKS and EMS VCS 3 were put to very good use and most of its sequence was created on the EMS Synthi whilst the VCS 3 was used to make the sounds of a vehicle passing by and an aeroplane exploding. David Gilmour gives a good demonstration of how the original Synthi sequence was punched in and speeded up in the documentary of the making of the album.
Other things such as airport announcements, reversed guitar effects and even footsteps from the assistant engineer Peter James were utilised which most likely inspired the title. Roger “The Hat” is in here too and when you look at how everything has been shaped for the album to continuously flow and run into the following track it’s perhaps like an album that has two parts one on each side rather than an album with 10 tracks.
Track 4. Time.
At just under 7 minutes “Time” is the longest track on the first side of the album and even though it’s titled as one track or song it is actually made up of three tracks or parts. Its rather long 2 minute and 18 second intro is perhaps the most effective piece on the entire album and is made up of ticking clocks, alarm clocks and chimes from Grandfather and Godfather clocks all of which were originally recorded in an antique store and made as a quadrophonic test by engineer Alan Parsons. They were also not specifically meant for the album but having heard the tape of them Gilmore suggested they should use them though the initial idea was Parsons and no doubt they were well apt for the title of the track.
Running through all the bells and chimes Waters adds to the ticking sound via the use of a couple of muted strings on his bass guitar and we get a SUPERB! drum solo by Mason played on rototoms and his solo very well makes up the musical side of things here. This whole introduction is purely MAGICAL! and it’s brought even more to life with Alan Parsons original Quad mix.
Then we get the song itself which is more uptempo with its raunchy rock style and in terms of pace it is most likely the fastest track on the album. It also contains a fine set of lyrics that tie in and continue on from the previous song. The lyrics to this particular song sum up how short our lifespan on earth really is with what little time we have to get things done and how some of it is wasted. These are just some of the sentences I picked out from the song that pertains to what I said about it.
“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way“
“And then one day you find ten years have got behind you“
“Shorter of breath and on day closer to death“
“Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time“
The lyrics that Waters wrote for this song are most likely my favourite set of lyrics on the whole album. The last sentence of the song really does show how life can be all over before we know it and I have to say that Waters did exceptionally well with all the lyrics he wrote for the whole of the album. The other good thing about this song is that the vocal duties are shared by Gilmour and Wright a combination that has always worked very well in the past.
The song also does have something more to say as it blends in very nicely with a reprise of the albums second song “Breathe” with more comforting lyrics to suit its relaxed style. “Breathe (Reprise)” works very much as a recurring theme and apart from the heartbeat that starts and ends the album, it is the only theme on the album to reoccur which is most likely why it’s my favourite track.
Track 5. The Great Gig In The Sky.
This next track is most likely as popular as any song on the album and it originally started out as “The Mortality Sequence” or “The Religion Song” accompanied by spoken-word samples from the Bible and snippets of speeches by Malcolm Muggeridge. It was also first developed by Richard Wright on organ and played on the organ with the sound of Muggeridge’s voice accompanying it at some of the bands live shows in 1972. He later then switched from organ to piano and it was really the magic vocal cords of Clare Torry that really brought it to life and made it more popular. Although it was never released as a single it got plenty of airplay not only on the radio but found its way into films and even TV Commercials.
Having previously worked with Torry it was Parsons who recommended her and she very much started her career as a vocalist and backing vocalist doing covers of well-known chart hits by various artists. If you are as old as I am and from the UK I am sure many will remember the series of Top of the Pops albums that run between 1968 – 1982. Basically, these were CHEAPO! vinyl albums where the songs were performed by other musicians and singers and sold at a lot cheaper price.
Even after the release of The Dark Side Of The Moon, she went on to do covers and it’s her voice that you can hear singing Dolly Parton’s single “Love Is Like a Butterfly” on the BBC TV Series Butterflies that starred Wendy Craig that ran on British television between 1978 – 1983. Although her voice on “The Great Gig In The Sky” is used more like an instrument which is very much why it’s still classed as an instrumental piece.
It was also down to the fact that her voice worked like an instrument that led to a lawsuit being filed against Wright who up until 2005 the piece was solely credited to him. To be honest, having done the session, Torry did not think they would use it and was surprised herself when she saw her name on the album credits. I guess it was down to seeing how popular it had become that later on, she felt her contribution was worth more than the £30 she had been paid for the session and quite rightly so. None of the band members made a fuss and settled up out of court.
However, you look at “The Great Gig In The Sky” it does sound more like a song than an instrumental piece and that is down to Torry’s voice. In reality, the whole of this first side of the album could easily contend for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! especially when you can come up with something as GREAT! as this masterpiece.
Track 6. Money.
Even more popular than the previous song “Money” became the bands most commercially successful track, and has been covered by several artists over the years. The lyrical content can be seen as a mockery against greed although when you look at half of the materialistic items that are mentioned in the song many of the band members certainly had enough of the stuff to buy such items afterwards. Nick Mason and his collection of sports cars is perhaps a prime example of having too much of the stuff. Though it also pertains to politics, in particular, how when it comes to seeing it as the root of all evil. My favourite line in the song is “but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away” it’s also very true.
The effective loop that Waters made for the intro with the use of clinking coins, a ringing cash register and tearing paper tells you what it’s all about and is well fitting to the piece. It’s even more effective on the quad mix and creates a walk-around room effect. Gilmore’s guitar solos along with the sax solos played by Dick Parry are also very impressive and to achieve the high piercing notes on the final chorus with the guitar he used a custom-made Lewis guitar with twenty-four frets that allowed a full four-octave range.
Like many of the songs on this album “Money” is an absolute classic and its single release in America broke them into the American market. I would suspect that it’s also most people’s favourite track on the album and it is, without doubt, a very high contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 7. Us and Them.
Besides conflict, the word segregation springs to mind with the lyrics that Waters wrote for this song and this is another one of the albums smoother tracks. Like the previous song, it was also released as a single in America though it peaked much lower at 72 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart most likely because it was released a year after the release of the album. It’s the longest track on the album and the musical side of things was written by Wright on the piano back in 1969. Back then it went under the title of “The Violent Sequence” and was one of the many pieces that got rejected by the film director Michelangelo Antonioni that were originally intended for the film Zabriskie Point.
It’s another GREAT! song and one that is easily in contention with the best tracks on the album it could also be a personal favourite for many as well. The song itself has quite a jazzy flavour to it which is once again well suited for Parry’s sax to which he gets the opportunity to play a couple of solos on this one. The harmonies of Wright’s voice fit in well with Gilmour’s lead vocals and as with many of the songs the backing singers do a fine job. Roger “The Hats” manifold can also be heard in the song just before the second of the sax solos.
Track 8. Any Colour You Like.
The final of the instrumental tracks on the album could be seen as a funked-up version of “Breathe Reprise” in particular with its backline of bass and drums. It also uses the same chord structure and could be seen as where the theme reoccurs yet again. It is however more synthesized but also features some fine lead work from Gilmour who used a couple of guitars to create the Uni-Vibe guitar effect. It’s very much a piece that keeps the album continuously flowing and its ending makes way for it to flow into the next track perfectly and effortlessly.
Track 9. Brain Damage.
The lyrics that Waters wrote for this song are very much tongue in cheek and were inspired by his former bandmate Syd Barrett who very much suffered from mental illness though most likely self-inflicted. Once again the band’s road manager back then Peter Watts’s manic laughter can be heard and it’s thanks to the multitrack recordings that you can also hear the tubular bells that Mason played in the song. The lunatics in this song could also apply to those in power and there are enough of them.
Track 10. Eclipse.
The final track on the album transcends from the previous track and being as they are both relatively short tracks they are quite often played together. Both tracks were also penned and sung by Waters, although on this final track everyone joins in. Within the context of the lyrics, he uses the sun and moon as symbols of dark and light, good and bad and that is what everything under the sun is pertaining to.
The final words at the end “There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun” were spoken by the doorman of Abbey Road Studios at the time Gerry O’Driscoll. You can also hear faintly in the background an orchestral version of The Beatles smash hit song “Ticket To Ride” that was being recorded in the next studio at the time by Hollybridge Strings.
If anything “Eclipse” puts the album to bed very well and summarises very much of the concept behind it all perfectly even if for some it’s quite puzzling. Once again the way the second side of the album has been stitched together is very much like one continuous piece with how it all flows.
Summary & Conclusion…
To sum up and conclude my review of The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion Box by Pink Floyd. Firstly I would like to point out that no matter how much you love this iconic album there is no way I could ever consider this box set as a must for Floyd fans, especially at its original retail price point of over a hundred English pounds sterling. In reality, a box set like this is worth no more than £60 and even that is a considerably high price point to pay for the small amount of music media content it has to offer that you cannot get your hands on a lot cheaper outside of the box.
My only genuine interest in getting this box set was for the blu ray because it contained Alan Parsons original Quadrophonic mix. That and the music media content that is on CD 6 are the only things in this box that you cannot lay your hands on (though of course the Quad mix can be obtained easily enough on vinyl). However, setting up a system like that is gonna cost you a lot more than an arm and a leg to play it and getting a copy still in mint condition today is highly unlikely.
Regarding the content that comes on the 6th disc. Although it is interesting it’s only really demo content and this is the sort of material you used to get for free as bonus tracks on reissues of albums years ago some even give you an extra disc for free. Even though it is unreleased content it does not have any real genuine value and is certainly not enough to entice one to spend money like this on a box set.
The Dark Side Of The Moon may very well be a perfect album but unfortunately, its recording was far away from that and even though first-generation original master tapes were used on the content that is contained in this box set the album never had what one would call a reference point recording. The downside is that the album was only ever recorded on 16 tracks to which they shoved way too much information onto them to make the album what it is.
No matter what pressing or version you have of the album it will always sound like mud in parts such as I mentioned on “Brain Damage” in the stereo & surround mixes of my review. There are of course other parts on the album that are not so clear as well and no matter how good the mixing engineer is it is impossible to clean those parts up.
However, the album contains nowhere near the muddy mix that Brian Humphries gave to the bands 1977 album Animals which was recorded on 24 tracks. You could say that James Guthrie had a much easier task of cleaning up that album up, not only was it recorded with 8 extra tracks it also had less information shoved onto them.
I am sure many of you will already know that Guthrie’s 2018 mix of Animals finally got released this month. It’s also quite an interesting mix but I shall leave that for another day and another review.
I personally don’t think there will ever be a definitive version of TDSOTM unlike the Definitive Editions of the Yes albums that Steve Wilson mixed. I certainly don’t think Guthrie has Wilson’s ears either but for my ears, the best mixes of this album were done by Parsons and as I mentioned both the Stereo and Quad mixes are the real key points of this release.
In my own opinion, the best possible way to listen to the album is with the Quad mix it is, without doubt, more definitive and defines more than the 2003 5.1 mix that Gutrhie did. Though as I mentioned there is no real reason why any surround FREAK! should not be content and happy enough with that 5.1 mix and I certainly would not recommend laying out 80 bucks or more to get your hands on the quad mix as I did.
Box sets like this are really more of a vanity item that one can look at and put on display, they are a million miles away from an honest package that costs less and offers you more for your money (as the Jethro Tull packages do), especially regarding the actual music content that comes inside them. Here you are paying more for the SWAG! that comes in them more than anything else to which the biggest majority of it is not fit for the purpose it was made for in the first place.
That is my genuine honest viewpoint regarding both Immersion box sets that have been released so far of Pink Floyd. It’s also the reason why I could never recommend them though I dare say others might not quite see it like I do. However, if for some reason you feel the need to obtain this box set and come across it cheap enough brand new. I certainly would try and avoid the European releases of it unless you want to go through the same rigmarole as I did getting the blu ray replaced 😊😊😊.
Quad Mix Heaven For A High Price…
The CD tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. (2011 Remaster)
01. Speak To Me. 1:07.
02. Breathe. 2:49.
03. On The Run. 3:45.
04. Time. 6:53.
05. The Great Gig In The Sky. 4:44.
06. Money. 6:23.
07. Us And Them. 7:49.
08. Any Colour You Like. 3:26.
09. Brain Damage. 3:46.
10. Eclipse. 2:12.
CD 2. (Live At Wembley 1974)
01. Speak To Me. 2:45.
02. Breathe. 2:50.
03. On The Run. 5:08.
04. Time. 6:31.
05. The Great Gig In The Sky. 6:50.
06. Money. 8:40.
07. Us And Them. 8:09.
08. Any Colour You Like. 8:10.
09. Brain Damage. 3:43.
10. Eclipse. 2:18.
CD 6. (1972 Mix & Previously Unreleased Tracks)
01. Breathe. 3:10.
02. On The Run. 3:30.
03. Time. 6:56.
04. The Great Gig In The Sky. 4:11.
05. Money. 6:52.
06. Us And Them. 7:15.
07. Any Colour You Like. 3:25.
08. Brain Damage. 3:50.
09. Eclipse. 1:36.
10. The Hard Way (from the ‘Household Objects’ project). 3:09.
11. Us And Them (Richard Wright demo). 5:39.
12. The Travel Sequence (Live In Brighton 1972). 4:36.
13. The Mortality Sequence (Live In Brighton 1972). 3:24.
14. Any Colour You Like (Live In Brighton 1972). 4:44.
15. The Travel Sequence (previously unreleased studio recording). 2:21.
16. Money (Roger Waters demo). 2:37.