March 1, 1973: The Dark Side of the Moon Released

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Dark Side MoonSome albums are landmarks. Some are masterpieces. Some are phenomena. Pink Floyd‘s eighth studio album is all that and more.

Hats off to David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and Roger Waters!

It may have only reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 for one week, but the heavily conceptual album stayed on the chart for 741 straight weeks from 1973 to 1988 – an as yet and never likely to be broken streak. It made the chart again in 2009 when the trade magazine changed its measurements for catalog releases.

Released on March 1, 1973, and with worldwide sales of some 45 million copies, it is one of the best-selling albums ever. (Estimates put it behind only Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and AC/DC’s Back in Black in worldwide sales.)

The group toured the record’s material extensively in the U.K. and even previewed it live for the press in February 1972 at London’s Rainbow Theatre before recording sessions at EMI’s famed Abbey Road Studios in the summer of that year and January 1973. The album utilized some of the most cutting-edge recording technology and instruments (like analog synthesizers) of the day. And it still sounds modern and not at all archaic in the digital age.

Its themes were hardly the usual stuff of pop music. Madness and by inference the deteriorating mental state of Pink Floyd’s founder Syd Barrett are one of its concerns. Serious notions like greed, mortality and human conflict are also among its lyrical concerns. It seemed to capture the social concerns of its era while, like its timeless sound, continuing to be relevant decades later.

Related: Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett: The Early Years

The Dark Side of the Moon was an expression of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out,” says Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. It raised the group from large cult progressive rock status to stardom and set up later monuments like The Wall. It also yielded the group their first U.S. hit song, “Money.”

“Money” became their first American chart hit, reaching #10 on Record World (#13 on Billboard). “Us and Them,” the follow-up released in February 1974, never reached the Hot 100.

Related: Our review of Roger Waters’ “Us + Them” tour

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At one point the album was slated to be titled Eclipse (A Piece for Assorted Lunatics). In the early-to-mid-1990s, somebody somewhere synched up The Dark Side of the Moon with the film The Wizard of Oz and noted numerous uncanny parallels, as if it were written as a soundtrack. Pink Floyd and those around them deny any intended connection between the two works.

Quite simply, a classic rock masterpiece.

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