This Day in Music staff writers | No-one in March 1973 could have imagined that an album released in that month would still be thrilling listeners decades later, but it’s true. Generally regarded as Pink Floyd’s masterwork, the qualities of The Dark Side Of The Moon have perhaps been taken for granted in recent years, but a return to it with fresh ears reminds the listener of its strengths. Part of its enduring appeal is the quality of the material, there simply isn’t a bad track on it, with a listening experience greater even than the sum of the parts.

As to its subject matter, Roger Waters said in 2003 that it was ‘An expression of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out.’ He said it was about ‘all the pressures and difficulties and questions that crop up in one’s life and create anxiety and the potential you have to solve them or choose the path that you’re going to walk.’

The band initially convened in December 1971 and January 1972 at Decca’s West Hampstead Studios in Broadhurst Gardens, London and then at a warehouse owned by The Rolling Stones at 47 Bermondsey Street, South London. One of the musical elements, to become ‘Us And Them’, already existed, having begun life as a rejected musical sequence by Richard Wright for Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. Another, to become ‘Brain Damage’, was a piece of Roger Waters’, created in the writing sessions of the Meddle album in January of that year.

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 full-length performance was at the Guildhall in Portsmouth, England, on January 21st, 1972, after which almost the entire year was spent with the band performing Dark Side live, interspersed with visits to Abbey Road studios from May onwards to work on individual songs.

Session singer Clare Torry, was a regular at Abbey Road. She had worked on numerous cover albums, and after hearing one of those albums Alan Parsons invited her to the studio to sing on Wright’s composition ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’. She declined this invitation as she wanted to watch Chuck Berry perform at the Hammersmith Odeon, but arranged to come in on the following Sunday. The band explained the concept behind the album, but were unable to tell her exactly what she should do. David Gilmour was in charge of the session, and in a few short takes on a Sunday night Torry improvised a wordless melody to accompany Wright’s emotive piano solo. She was initially embarrassed by her exuberance in the recording booth, and wanted to apologize to the band – only to find them delighted with her performance.

In 2004, Torry sued Pink Floyd for songwriting royalties, on the basis that her contribution to ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ . . .
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We have a book! Pink Floyd – I Was There which contains over 400 eyewitness accounts from fans who saw Pink Floyd live in concert. Available in print and all digital formats.
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Also from This Day in Music: 20 Jan 2002, George Harrison had the posthumous UK No.1 single with the re-release of the 1971 former No.1 ‘My Sweet Lord’. Harrison’s single replaced Aaliyah’s ‘More Than A Woman’, the only time in chart history that one deceased artist had taken over from another at No.1. ‘My Sweet Lord’.


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