on 28 September 2011
First thing to do was to play the start of Breathe from my older version (Shine On Box Set) just to get an idea of how things used to be. I then put the same segment on from the 2011 remaster and to be honest, there was slight difference in the treble but I don't think there is much in these so called remasters that makes them any better than those done in the 90's.
The second disc is a live recording of DSTOM from 1974 and showcases a band at the height of their collective power.
Breathe starts off with some nice guitar work from Gilmour that really did make me sit up and say `Oh that's nice'. On the Run was excellent as was Time, with Rick in fine vocal form.
The Great Gig in the Sky was certainly very well done but it doesn't compare to the original, especially the vocals. On this recording it became something of a jam session with Roger's bass seeming to dominate the mix, which does show us what a competent player he really was.
After hearing David singing for most of the album it was quite a contrast to hear Roger singing the last two tracks. I had never found the difference as profound on the studio version so it made for an interesting listen. The gap between the end of the song Eclipse and the `There is no dark side to the moon really' speech is abrupt, almost as if the band wanted to stop and go for for a cup of tea.
In conclusion, the live version of DSOTM is well worth the money and I am likely to play it in preference to the Pulse version.
This is my 3rd cd version of this album,also had the vinyl,way back in the day,couldnt help myself the carrot of the live disc sold me,so what do you need to know?
Disc 1 : is the original disc,remastered by James Guthrie again,his '94 remaster was perfect as far as i could tell and truth be told i cant really detect any noticeable difference,sometimes with these 'new' remasters i think you will convince yourself to hear something different.initially on first play i thought possibly a little clearer,the background voices slightly more audible,after a couple of listens with the headphones and comparing to the prev disc im not too sure.Whats not in dispute is this is a fantastic piece of music that has stood the test of time,beautifully arranged.played and recorded nearly 40 years ago,its hard to believe there will be a first time buyer,so i guess most will know already what their buying.
Disc 2 : now i've never heard any live 70's recordings of 'dark side...' so this was my principle reason for buying and its well worth it,clocking in at around 12 mins more than its studio counterpart there a couple of moments were the band add in a little extra,nothing too much to change the overall feeling and what a performance,all four members on fire and a sound quality that frankly stunned me,i thought a recording 37 years old may suffer but this is absolute quality and worth the purchase price alone.
The sound quality on the remaster is excellent so no worries there,the packaging ,well that a different story.the 2 discs are housed in a tri fold digi pak which the seams are already tearing,the housing for the discs quite tight,so beware when taking in/out,the booklet is very average,no improvement on the '94 remaster,just the lyrics and photos already available previously,all housed in a flimsy slipcase,if it wasnt such a superb musical release i would have been tempted to dock a star.
The rhetorical question of course is why not just release a live set from wembley '74? answers on a ten pound note to EMI.
Ultimately its the music that counts and this is a 10/10 on both cd's,a truly wonderful album with outstanding live bonus disc.
on 8 October 2011
For me, Dark Side of the Moon is not just about the music (which of course is amazing) but the whole package. Like The White Album and Quadrophenia, it's the extras which make owning these albums a real pleasure and give the sense that you have acquired a piece of art. With prices of mint condition original presses of DSOTM going for hundreds of pounds, this seemed like a good opportunity to get hold of a fresh print at a not unreasonable price (under twenty quid), particularly as my old vinyl edition (4th or 5th press I think) is a bit long in the tooth and the posters have long since disappeared. I also have the 30th anniversary CD which has kept me going on the iPod for the last few years.
Receiving this album through the door really did recreate that long-lost thrill of receiving a brand new vinyl LP. Compared to my old edition, the rainbow colours really stand out on the beautiful black sleeve. Inside, all the components of the original package are present and correct. The pyramid poster looks slightly more purple than my original which was more blue while some of the pictures on the group sleeve have been flipped to show that Dave and Roger are actually not left-handed guitarists, something that always bugged me about the original poster! In addition, there is a stunning new poster (by Storm Thorgerson?) which reproduces the sleeve design in swirly, psychedelic paints. A couple of clues on the sleeve tell you that this a new edition though. The sleeve was printed in the EU (rather than GB) while a sticker on the back refers to (takes a sharp intake of breath) a digital remaster. I know there will be lots of people who will take umbrage at this idea but the information on the sleeve that the album is also available in 8-track cartridge format may prove to be a red herring for analogue lovers.
So how does the all-important 180g slab of plastic sound on the wheel of steel? Pretty good actually. The vinyl itself is solid with little flex and there is no noticeable surface noise, clicks or pops. The album doesn't sound too different from previous vinyl and CD versions I've heard but the one thing I have found is that it is noticeably easier to track the bass line while some of the keyboard sounds seem to emerge more from the mix. All the special effects (especially the clocks) still sound amazing and I couldn't hear evidence of this being a digital transfer. I can't really give a more considered assessment than that though not having heard a 'holy grail' pressing on a top end system but in the end it's the music which counts. I leave others to quibble over the relative merits of all the different editions of this album but I am very happy with this purchase. The MP3 download code included with the album is a nice touch but does not include any of the extra material included in the expanded CD sets which is a shame. I would have at least liked the Empire Pool show without having to pay separately for it.
on 13 June 2003
Fans of Pink Floyd know DSOTM like the back of their hand; they can recite the lyrics, hum the melodies and play air guitar like pros. The question is, can this SACD version make it sound any better? Put simply, yes it does....and then some.
Floyd's music has always lent itself to cutting edge audio technology and the 5.1 SACD mix is proof of this. Using an SACD player and a 5.1 system you get true surround sound. Now this means that the voices in "Speak to Me" swirl around the listener, clocks chime as if their in your room and coins jangle about you. But more than this, now that there are 5.1 channels of sound the music is clearer and better defined. It has more presence, placing the listener in the centre of the music. It provides a full audio experiance.
Yet it it incredibly subtle. Now instruments are intricately placed to enhance the listening experiance; there are no gimmicks here. In "Time" the rototoms sound as if they are in the centre of the room, as if they are directly in front of you. The sax in "Us and Them" comes solely from the centre speaker given it far more clarity than before (the sax used to get lost in the mix before, I felt). Subtle effects, yet hugely effective.
All in all such near studio-like quality in the sound (this depends on how good your system is) adds to the music, sharpens it, makes a thirty year old album seem new.
For any Floyd fan DSOTM is an essential purchase and this SACD is just as neccessary. Get it whilst you can...
I've just worked out that I've bought Dark Side of The Moon 4 times.
Once on Vinyl
Once Original CD
Once SACD 2003 (?)
And now this version.
The music is wonderful, the live album is wonderful but the thing that really lets this down is the cheap and nasty card cover.
I've only had this item a week and a half and the card cover is beginning to crease and become covered in finger marks even though I am a bit of a fuss about treating my cd's with care.
I just think considering the big loud fanfare this reissue series received it is an opportunity wasted.
Perhaps in 5 years they'll release it again in a proper hard wearing cover and I'll get the opportunity to buy it for the 5th time.
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2011 SINGLE-DISC VERSION ***
I've reviewed the 2011 remasters of Pink Floyd's "Meddle" (1971), "Obscured By Clouds" (1972) and "Wish You Were Here" (1975) - all three are sonically amazing but hugely disappointing on the packaging front (miniscule booklets that exclude original details and don't expand your knowledge a jot). It's pretty much an identical story here. But let's get to the details first...
The vinyl LP "The Dark Side Of The Moon" was originally released 10 March 1973 on Harvest SMAS-11163 in the USA and 24 March 1973 in the UK on Harvest Records SHVL 804. This 26 September 2011 single-disc version (released 27 Sep 2011 in the USA) on EMI 50999 028955 2 9 is a straightforward 10-track remaster of that Number 1 studio album. A 2CD 'Experience' Edition and a 6-Disc 'Immersion' Box Set are also released Monday 26 September 2011 (see separate entries for details). This single-disc 'Discovery' reissue comes in a gatefold card sleeve with a newly laid-out 12-page inlay inside (total playing time 42:59 minutes).
[Note: original copies of the vinyl LP famously came with 2 posters, 2 stickers and a titled 'Pink Floyd The Dark Side Of The Moon' sticker on the front - this new issue doesn't feature any of these original items, but instead simply uses the now familiar untitled `prism' artwork]
Like all the other albums in this 14-title reissue series - "The Dark Side Of The Moon" has been mastered by JAMES GUTHRIE and JOEL PLANTE at the Das Boot Recording Studios in Tahoe in California (Guthrie is a Sound Engineer associated with the band since 1978). The original 1st generation master tapes have obviously been given a thorough going over because it truly feels like each segment has had a staggering amount of time spent on them - worrying out every single nuance possible. The audio result is truly impressive.
God knows how many times this 'cash cow' of an album has been reissued on CD - and yet another version will probably make even the most die-hard of fans yawn and even feel a little angry. But - outside of the amazing SACD version of 2003 - this new 2011 'Discovery' edition is absolutely the best it's ever going to be for those of us with a lesser budget. The now famous opening heart-beat and 'loony' voices of "Speak To Me" sound extraordinary - which in turn lead into the sonic wall of "Breathe (In The Air)" - and it's a WOW. The remaster hasn't dampened anything or over-amplified it for the sake of volume (the dreaded loudness wars so many talk of) - it's just 'there' - all the instruments present and swirling around your speakers in superlative clarity. And while "Time", "Money" and the lovely "Us And Them" were always going to be audio wonderland with their myriad effects and top-drawer Alan Parsons's production values - it's the last track on Side 1 that impresses the most. The truly gorgeous and innovative "The Great Gig In The Sky" is on the 'Immersion' mega box set in its original bare-bones state - later beefed up with the incredible Acapella Vocal of CLARE TORRY - and what a smart move that was. Even in its very quiet opening and ending passages - it sounds BEAUTIFUL - and not for the first time brought a tear to a weary eye. I also love the "Any Colour You Like" instrumental on Side 2 (some DJs have been mixing it in with Dance and Funk 12" in their sets) and by the time "Eclipse" finishes this concept of concept albums (lyrics above) - it's very hard not to be impressed at the work Guthrie and Plante have done here.
I wish I could say the same for the staggeringly unimaginative packaging. The 'Pink Floyd' logo you see in all the photos advertising these new reissues turns out to be a sticker on the outer shrink-wrap that gets lost the second you unpeel it. The card sleeves are like The Beatles 09/09/09 EMI reissues - glossy and flimsy - so they smudge with finger prints the second you open them and are easy to bend and crease. The CD itself has the new generic artwork (the sticker design on the outer packaging) repeated in different colour variations throughout the series - a sort of Turquoise and Pale Green for "Meddle", a garish Red and Pink for "Obscured By Clouds", Blue and Green for "Wish You Were Here" and here - Black And Grey for "Dark Side..." But where's the beautiful band poster, the two Hipgnosis-designed stickers, the deep blue triangle/prism Harvest label of the English LP? This ludicrous new design has no relevance to the original and speaking of the disc itself - there's no protective gauze sleeve for the CD either so it will scuff on repeated plays. The inner glossy gatefold could easily have featured these - instead we get two useless sepia-tinted pictures of the pyramids - how imaginative...
But the skimpy booklet is the biggest disappointment. It has the lyrics of the original album (which were on the inner gatefold) reset in the new booklet against a background of god-awful Storm Thorgerson images. Of the millions of words written about this most famous of rock records, there isn't even a history on the album. There's no pictures of European and Worldwide 7" sleeves for "Money" and "Time" (singles lifted off the album), no pictures of the band, no 7" edit versions etc - naught to get your teeth into. OK - it does look nice and does the job adequately - but that's all. It's a lazy-assed approach on behalf of EMI and undermines the sterling work done on the sound front. I hate to come across like some nick-picking fan boy here, but it would have been nice to actually 'discover' something on this so-called 'Discovery' version (docked a star for that).
To sum up - the remaster is gobsmacking - a stone five stars - but sadly we get mediocre presentation that completely undermines the original power of the vinyl album when you got it in your hands all those decades ago. Still - with the truly beautiful sonic upgrade thrown in - the casual listener is advised to dig in, rediscover and enjoy.
Die-hard fans however might want to wait for the Japanese Editions that will inevitably arrive in 2012 on the far superior SHM-CD format (a better make of CD playable on all players). With their faithfully reproduced artwork and audiophile reproduction - they may give your bank manager a cold sweat - but they will absolutely be the ones to get if the best is all you'll accept.
Despite my gripes about presentation - "Meddle", "Obscured By Clouds" and the wonderful "Wish You Were Here" should be your next port of call. I suspect many music lovers will feel exactly the same...
PS: fans of memorabilia should note that for this launch - HMV London is giving away a titled banded-envelope containing 6 colour postcards in the same style as the one in the original "Wish You Were Here" LP (girl diving into a lake) for customers who purchase 2 titles in this reissue campaign. They're gorgeous and will probably become future collectables.
I couldn't help myself - I'm an obsessive collector, a Floyd fan and I love box sets, so there was no way I'd be able to avoid buying the Immersion edition of DSOTM...
Unfortunately, what we have here is some superb musical treats for the Floyd fan, padded out with a load of unnecessary junk to bump the price up.
First, the music - the remaster of DSOTM is good as it has ever sounded. The quality of both the live performance disc and the bonus disc of demos and rarities are top-notch - they've been cleaned up superbly, and they sound dynamic and clear without a trace of tape hiss. Furthermore, the content itself is well worth hearing - Rick Wright's solo piano demo of "Us And Them" is worth the price of admission on its own, and the track from "Household Objects" is surprisingly good. If you are a Floyd fan, the bonus discs are must-listens.
The surround mixes of DSOTM are interesting - the inclusion of both Blu-Ray and DVD seems a bit unnecessary, as all the content is duplicated across both formats, and hardly justifies HD video, given its age - a single DVD-Video disc and a DVD-Audio disc would have been more than adequate, and could have held all the video and audio in both standard and HD formats.
And then we get onto the padding. The booklets are a disappointment - yes, a lot of photos, but the only words are the lyrics to the album, which we all have already, and a page from Storm Thorgerson telling yet again the story of how the band chose the cover artwork. Nothing from the band at all - there is so much that could have been included - interviews, reviews, reminiscences - but nothing. The concert ticket and backstage pass replicas are pointless. But the real crime is the scarf, marbles and coasters - I suspect the marbles are the ones Storm Thorgerson has clearly lost in order to come up with such a load of rubbish...
What Floyd should have done was to release a 5-disc set, with the three audio CDs, a DVD-Video and a DVD-Audio disc, and a decent booklet. £50 for that, and everyone would have been happy. Instead, we get this huge white elephant, and in order to hear the bonus material (that most serious Floyd fans would *really* want to hear), we have to pay for a lot of unnecessary junk that will surely only end up in landfill.
Could have been so much better...
on 20 October 2011
I'm a longtime huge fan of Pink Floyd and of course I had to have these immersion packages but I have to say that it was a bit of a disapointment. I mean the audio and video material are great and perfectly restaured and produced, the visuals and Thorgersone design is beautiful as always, nevertheless considering the price tag I find the whole packaging a tad cheap: none of the disks were in place when I opened the box because they are(n't) kept in place by some cheap plastic adhesive buttons, and as I would expect some scratches were made prior to even have teared the plastic wraping of the box. The BluRay and disk 6 come in a slip carton case which I am never very found of and the whole thing stays inside the box loose and ratling. Also the marbles look cheap... I'm considering taking all the disks out of the box and store it on my CD shelve inside some good old Jewel cases that will surely prevent even more scratches. It would be great if in the upcoming WYWH and the Wall immersion boxes they'd correct these major flaws. Come on, it's an over 100 box with 6 disks...
on 6 October 2006
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said about Dark Side. For what it's worth I can only try to explain my recent simultaneous discovery of Pink Floyd and their masterpiece. I've been into all sorts of music from hip hop, Prince & Nirvana to dance music, but I'd never really ventured into the realms of classic rock. I bought DSOTM on a whim one day, listened to it from strart to finish and was so blown away by it I listened to it again straight away. It's simply a superb musical experience, a journey even. The lyrics are simple but meaningful, David Gilmour's guitar playing is spectacular, and the whole album falters nowhere from the opening bar to the last fade. This really is a must own album for anybody who loves good music. Makes the vast majority of "verse/chorus/verse" popular compositions seem a complete waste of time.
on 26 September 2011
Floyd / EMI really missed a chance here. This really could have been something truly incredible, but alas it's truly overblown and lacking in substance worthy of its ticket price.
Granted there may be a small percentage of fans out there that want a bit of memorabilia, there's nothing wrong with a bit of fun, but surely not when it's at the expense of the remainder of the package. I would imagine the vast majority of fans out there who are prepared to fork out the top dollars for a set such at this want quantity and quality, gimmicks I imagine would be well down the list.
In terms of what is provided here the live at Wembley set from 1974 really does sound astonishingly good, absolutely miles above even the soundboard recordings readily available for share from this era. However as this is also available as part of the 'Experience Edition', the question is what does one get that makes this upgrade worthwhile?
The 2 DVD's / 1 Blu-ray discs are chocked up with surround versions of the album and replications of the projections (concert screen reels) played on the big screen behind the band at the time. The fact that this is what makes up the vast majority of 3 of the 4 bonus discs (to the Experience Edition) is IMHO what lets the Immersion set down big time. Firstly the SACD version of the album is readily available and to my ears absolutely flawless. It simply has to be one of the best hi-res surround sound releases on the market, so i can't imagine there would be too many folk out there that would actually be excited by, or need further surround sound versions of the album.
The concert screen reels are pleasant enough, but can really only be seen as bonus material as there's no concert footage of the band playing to go along with them. What would have been ideal is to present a full DSOTM performance on DVD with these concert screen reels provided as a bonus angle. In fact this set is totally void of *any* footage of the band performing DSOTM (except for tiny snippets during a 25 minute doco that was made to promote the SACD release of the album back in 2003). What live footage we get is of Careful With That Axe Eugene and Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, and this is so good it's actually heartbreaking that no further footage was dug up, restored and provided.
The set is rounded out with another CD, and it features an early mix of the album by Alan Parsons, presumably before Chris Thomas was brought in. It's an interesting listen and great for fans buying the box set as no doubt they all know the album back to front. It's an aural version of spot the difference. Speak to Me hadn't been spliced together as an overture yet, Clare Torry is absent from Great Gig and the track is 30 sec shorter. Hearing the naked version of this song really highlights what a lift it received from her vocal improvisations. The dialogue interspersed throughout the final mix hadn't been added as yet here so it's also interesting to hear the album stripped of that, but when one is so used to it, it's quite noticeable in its absence. No heart (drum) beats bookend the album, rather a Moody Blues-esque mellotron-like chord commences the album, and a fade out of the final chord of Eclipse rounds it out. Also apparent now is how much effort was put into the final mix in terms of building the suite of songs that finish the album to a full climax and release. The segues of Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage and Eclipse kind of limp together here, but on the final mix each songs entry packs an increasingly bigger punch building a memorable finale to such a deserved classic album! The early mix whilst solid enough shows the band making an obvious improvement on Meddle, but still trying to define themselves. There's no doubt had they released this early mix it would have sold well, but it would certainly not have taken the band into the stratosphere the final mix did.
The remainder of the bonus tracks on this CD are definitely worthy and warrant inclusion in this set. The Hard Way (from the aborted Household Objects project) which, whilst not pre-empting any of the sound of Wish You Were Here, sounds years ahead of its time. In fact if the track had managed to get a bit of a groove happening it could almost be a proto-Massive Attack sound. I can only assume the synth-like sound is actually the wineglasses that are often made mention whenever the band refers to the session. It's a great sound and alone makes this track worth listening to more than once!
Two demos are included: Us and Them is just Rick plonking away on the piano (without vocals), and Money simply Roger on acoustic guitar giving a very earnest vocal perfomance (which I actually love!) His original splicing of money and cash register noises is tagged neatly on the end. The true highlights of this disc are the 3 live tracks from 1972. The band at this point were such an amazing live band and these tracks really highlight the jam-nature of the band at this point free from the controlled song structure they imposed on themselves as they became a bigger phenomenon. The Mortality Sequence contains just one run through of the chord progression that became Great Gig, the remainder being a lovely chordal improvisation from Rick on the organ. Any Colour You Like is relaxed and has beautiful playing from Gilmour and Rick, then Nick starts increasing his frequency of drum fills and the song for 30 odd seconds is totally rocking! The Travel Sequence appears in both live and studio form, and I assume was dropped from the album in favour of On The Run (they both share 16ths on the hi-hats) and for being another instrumental. It would have been filler on the album itself but makes for a great outtake/bonus track!
However the high points of this disc again highlight what could have been! Why not another full set of DSOTM? Imagine if this box set contained the prototype live version (from 1972) as well as the aforementioned '74 Wembley set. I'd gladly trade my marbles and scarf for that!! Who in their right mind wouldn't?? The sound quality of the '72 tracks featured here isn't as strong as the '74 set, but I doubt there'd be too much complaint about that, it's still miles above bootleg quality and very enjoyable. I guess tellingly the 3 tracks supplied are all instrumental, so perhaps messers Gilmour and Waters vetoed their vocal performances from this particular gig. If that's the case that's a real shame, being a bonus feature I could live with the vocals being off mike, cutting out, or even being a bit out of tune. It definitely wouldn't be a deal breaker.
Finally the last real let down of the set is the booklets. The two booklets enclosed should have been reduced to one, and a further booklet should have been commissioned by EMI giving extensive interviews with the surviving members of the band (even interspersing handpicked quotes from Rick) and session engineers. There's no discussion of the live material (audio or visual) or concert screen reels, no discussion of the Household Objects project or the dropped Travel Sequence track... All of which would have made killer (not to mention essential) reading.
Genesis really set the benchmark for reissuing their back catalogue and genuinely giving their fan base what they wanted in terms of a value packed upgrade. 2 box sets issuing much in the way of live tracks and rarities, followed up some years later by solid sonic upgraded SACD surround sound mixes for each album that came with bonus DVD's of interviews/making of docos + TV appearances and concert footage (some broadcast quality interspersed with some bootleg quality, but at least a document for fans to enjoy) Those wishing to dive in for box sets were rewarded with further bonus tracks and DVD footage + essay booklets. All in all a pretty simple and satisfying benchmark to at least try and reach.
Alas with Floyd we have been given gimmicks and a just a taste of what could have been a truly worthwhile and immersing experience.