DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, SD Blu-ray (2013)

Fascinating behind-the-scenes exploration of one of the most important rock albums ever.

Published on September 22, 2013

The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, SD Blu-ray (2013)

The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, SD Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons
Directors: Pink Floyd
Studio: Eagle Vision EVSBD309949 [8/27/13]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD
Audio: English PCM stereo
Subtitles: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese
Extras: Over 40 minutes of bonus footage including: 
Brain Damage – A complete solo acoustic performance by Roger Waters together with his thoughts on the song.
Money – Roger Waters and Alan Parsons discuss the song, intercut with David Gilmour playing guitar and Roger Waters playing bass.
Us And Them – Richard Wright talks about writing the song and plays solo piano, along with excerpts from the full album track.
Breathe – A complete solo acoustic performance by David Gilmour.
Time – Roger Waters discusses the track followed by an excerpt from the animated video used at Pink Floyd concerts and Roger Waters original demo recording.
Gilmour’s Guitars – David Gilmour illustrates the guitar parts from three tracks on the album: Breathe, The Great Gig In The Sky and Us And Them.
Length: 92 minutes (both feature & extras)
Rating: *****

This is one of a new series of Blu-rays in which standard-definition video material is upsampled for Blu-ray presentation along with the higher-res lossless soundtrack, although in this case it is only PCM stereo.  (It was originally released on DVD in 2003.) The documentary takes a close look, track by track, at the making of the 1973 album, using interviews with all four members of the band: Rogers Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright. (Who by the way look fine, unlike some other rock musicians still doing their thing.) They play tunes and demonstrate themes in the album, which while not the first concept album, many have been one of the most successful ever. Their original engineer, Alan Parsons, plays some of the original multi-track tapes on the mixing board and gives an insight into the whole musical sense of the album.  Archival footage shot during the making of the album fills out the documentary. Pink Floyd’s late designer, Storm Thorgerson, is also included.  This “Making of…” Blu-ray follows up as a sort of sequel to their effort of last year titled The Story of Wish You Were Here.

It’s now been 40 years since the original release of the iconic album, and it has stood the test of time beautifully, being still one of the best-selling albums ever.  Roger Waters states that “Dark Side of the Moon was the most important artistic statement of the last 50 years.” Well, that’s Roger Waters. He, after all, had supplied all of the lyrics and the concept idea for the whole album. I might modify that to “one of the most important artistic statements in pop music of the last 50 years.” The general consensus of the talking heads in the documentary is that the album was a complex expression for a rather grim time, and the four band members agreed that it was the most  focused thing they had done in their entire career.

Dark Side of the Moon dealt with such heavy themes as alienation, paranoia, madness, war and death. The mental decline of their former member Syd Barrett was a strong factor in some of Water’s lyrics. The album has an overall hypnotic and compelling effect on most listeners, and has been an audiophile favorite for four decades. I fondly recall trying out various subwoofers with the heartbeat sounds on the album. We reviewed an audiophile remastered vinyl of the album here, and a two-CD remastered set from EMI here. However, for my ears nothing beats the Capitol multichannel SACD mix 30th Anniversary Edition (CDP7243-5 82136-2 1-US), which is still available.

The image quality seems about as good as original Blu-ray. There is a bit too much repetition of a collage of images evidently tied in with an Antonioni film for which they supplied a soundtrack which was little used in the end. Waters’ imitation of Antonioni is hilarious. I frankly haven’t had time yet to view all the 40 minutes of provided extras but plan to do so soon because they look equally fascinating. Altogether this Blu-ray is a great exploration of this landmark album in rock history.

—John Henry




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