This Day in Music, June 28: Come Over To The Dark Side

By , Contributor

On this day in 1997, the classic Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon spent its 1,056th week on the U.S. album chart.

Generally regarded as Pink Floyd's masterwork, and probably its best known, the qualities of The Dark Side Of The Moon have perhaps been taken for granted in recent assessments.

Part of its enduring appeal is the strength of the material - every track bears scrutiny on its own, but contributes to a cohesive listening experience that is greater than the sum of the parts. Pink Floyd members don't recall planning a magnum opus, although they did acknowledge that they had created something special when it was finished.

In the pre-Internet age, it wasn't too commercially suicidal to preview new material before its release, so Floyd were able to knock the album into shape over several months of road work. The first official airing of The Dark Side Of The Moon live was at the Brighton Dome on January 20, 1972, although the Dark Side portion of the show had to be curtailed at the start of "Money" for technical reasons. The first full performance was in Portsmouth Guildhall the following night, after which almost the entirety of 1972 was spent with the band performing Dark Side live, interspersed with visits to Abbey Road Studios to work on individual songs.

The album's themes, including alienation, capitalism, and death, had been crystallised, and the band settled on a title, The Dark Side Of The Moon, only to discover in the course of 1972 that blues-pop duo Medicine Head had already used the title for their own album. Despite a UK #3 hit in May 1973, Medicine Head's album didn't chart at all, so Floyd felt free to use it as well.

The album was an immediate and longstanding hit, Pink Floyd's first #1 album in the US, while peaking at #2 in the UK. It is estimated to have sold more than 45 million copies, and is certainly one of the top five biggest-selling albums of all time.

Its success has spawned many legends - some spurious, as with the rumour that if the album was played while watching The Wizard of Oz movie, and started exactly when the MGM lion roared the third time during the movie's intro, very interesting connections could be made between the two. The band have consistently denied any intentional connection.

Only last week, The Dark Side Of The Moon re-entered the Billboard album chart at No. 47, continuing the record-breaking run of the longest-listed album in Billboard's history.

However, one pinnacle still eludes it: although it scaled the US chart on 28 April, 1970, its highest position in the UK has been No. 2 (kept off the top spot by Flashback Great Hits Of The 60s at the time of release). 

Now, with Roger Waters touring The Wall to sell-out crowds around the world in 2011, and EMI Records having announced a massive catalogue campaign to launch in September of this year, all that might be about to change.

The Dark Side Of The Moon in its re-released form, which will include the first outing of their Wembley 1974 'Dark Side' concert, plus a collector's box set, is reported by UK trade paper Music Week to be No. 1 in Amazon UK's pre-release chart, which has a distinguished record in predicting the actual commercial chart.

So The Dark Side Of The Moon may finally hit No. 1 in the UK - 38 years and six months after its initial release.

2011 looks like the year of Pink Floyd... again.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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