Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ Immersion Edition – Album Review
Pink Floyd‘s six-disc “Immersion Edition” box set of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ is a lovingly assembled collection offering interesting new perspectives on the creation of one of rock music’s most enduring albums.
This lavish package, with photo books, replica concert tickets, and drink coasters, along with three marbles and a scarf adorned with that famous prism artwork, is the crown jewel of the first wave of the band’s massive “Why Pink Floyd” reissue campaign.
All this memorabilia, as cool as it is, properly takes a backseat to the wealth of audio and visual treasures included in the three CDs and two DVDs on the collection. (A sixth, Blu-ray disc simply and logically repeats the content of the two DVDs.)
The original ‘Dark Side’ album is here, of course, remastered quite nicely — not that it ever sounded underfed. The real fun starts on disc two, which features a 1974 live concert performance of the album that effortlessly recreates nearly all the sonic intricacies of the studio album without sounding stuffy or stilted.
Next up is an audio-only DVD that’s going to team up with your home stereo system to turn your living room into one gigantic set of headphones, with your choice of 1973 stereo or quadrophonic (4.0) mixes, as well as a 2003 5.1 surround mix, each in your choice of nerdy or super-nerdy audio quality.
The fourth disc brings visuals into the mix, with live footage of a pair of pre-’Moon’ tracks performed in 1972, a half-hour documentary (slightly infomercial-ish, but still fun) and an hour’s worth of the trippy video footage displayed behind the band during various tours in support of the album, all set to the studio versions of the songs.
The last CD is where the real exploration begins, with the original 1972 studio mix of ‘Dark Side.’ It’s a slightly harder-hitting version of the album, displaying just how much refinement went into the final version. There’s nothing particularly shocking on here – it’s not like ‘Us and Them’ featured a tuba solo on the first go-round, for example. However, the track launches directly out of the church organs at the end of ‘Money’ with just the piano and saxophone, instead of the slowly enveloping bass and guitar introduction we’ve all come to know so well.
You’ll also notice louder, more intrusive running sounds during ‘On the Run,’ a broadcast from Apollo astronauts during ‘The Great Gig in the Sky,’ more laughing during ‘Brain Damage,’ things like that. A pair of instrumental connective pieces from a pre-release 1972 live run-through of the album (very cool, but you can see why they were cut from the album, would have loved to get that whole show) and three demos round out the ‘Dark Side’ material.
Richard Wright’s piano-only demo for ‘Us and Them’ is as lovely as ‘The Hard Way,’ an instrumental track from the uncompleted ‘Moon’ follow-up album ‘Household Objects’ (they were going to try to make a whole album without musical instruments) is odd. But it’s Roger Waters’ guitar and vocals version of ‘Money’ that reveals the naked genius of Floyd; strip away all the production and what have you got? An absolutely brilliant song.
It’d be a blast to hear more of the songs in this same skeletal form, but it certainly seems like Pink Floyd opened the vaults as fully as possible for this box set, and hearing the effect even the smallest changes from each of the four visited stages of the album’s evolution have on the listening experience demonstrates just how perfectly unique ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ truly is.
Watch a Tour of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ Immersion Box Set