Yes, the album does synch astonishingly well with The Wizard of Oz, but that’s just one of the remarkable things about Pink Floyd’s historic Dark Side of the Moon, which was released 40 years ago. The disc also pushed the envelope on multi-tracking and tape looping, as well as mixing, making Dark Side as much an accomplishment of engineering as musicianship and ushering in the era of the studio engineer as star.
In the case of Dark Side engineer Alan Parsons — who was also responsible for inviting powerhouse singer Clare Torry to wail on the LP’s “The Great Gig In the Sky” — that was literal. He became a cult artist and then a hit-maker with the studio group he led between 1975 and 1990 under the name the Alan Parsons Project.
But in the long run what’s even more remarkable than the sonic beauty and innovation of Dark Side of the Moon is that it froze one of the greatest rock bands at their creative peak in a confluence of imagination, virtuosity and poetic lyricism that is now forever trapped in amber — becoming a permanent benchmark of excellence and humanity for future generations of listeners and musicians.
Of course, the concept album was well-established by the time Dark Side of the Moon reached record shops, but the recording’s perfect weave of storytelling and sound still make it a truly exceptional member of that camp. Bassist-singer Roger Waters’ lyrics achieved a poetic high in experimental rock, comparable to Dylan and to Hendrix’s most emotionally rich lyrics, like “Drifting” and “Castles Made of Sand.” Also contributing to the disc’s humanity is a variety of voices — recordings of the band’s road crew, the studio doorman and even Wings’ guitarist Henry McCullough (“I don’t know. I was really drunk at the time.”) — responding to questions Waters had written on flash cards. The cards were lost partway in the recording process, leading to interesting ad libs like “When was the last time you were violent?”
Ultimately, the disc’s sides tell an open-ended story about the trials and joys experienced over the arc of a lifetime, with the surging tides of the music sustaining the tales of yearning, fear, satisfaction, doubt, vision and transcendence.
Dark Side of the Moon was embraced by both listeners and the music industry upon its release, climbing quickly to number one. The album continues to sell thousands of copies a week and has reached a total of more than 34-million sold around the world. Staring with its March 1973 release, Dark Side spent more than 11 consecutive years on the Billboard album charts.
According to Pink Floyd legend, only one thing could stop the progress of the Dark Side recording sessions at London’s Abbey Road studios — the weekly broadcast of British comedy TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The band members were such big fans that they invested part of the profits from the album into the comedy troupe’s first film, the gutsy, hilarious satire of religion and English culture Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
As for Parsons, his efforts on Dark Side of the Moon earned him the first of his eight Grammy Awards — so far — for engineering.
Ask any rock fan to name the greatest-ever rock guitar albums, and you had better be prepared to sit for a while. Led Zeppelin IV, Appetite for Destruction, Paranoid, Van Halen’s self-titled debut: the list of such albums could fill an encyclopedia. Still, some albums filled with stellar guitar work have flown under the radar. Confining our picks to full-band efforts—as opposed to solo LPs—we present 10 such albums below.
Flash: In the Can (1972)
After giving way to Steve Howe, original Yes guitarist Peter Banks went on to form Flash, one of the era’s greatest (if least known) prog rock trios. With an ES-335 as his go-to guitar, Banks (who passed away earlier this year) and his mates created a masterpiece with the band’s second album. “I never considered using any guitar other than the 335,” he told Gibson.com, in a 2010 interview. “It was like wearing the same suit every day, but a suit that was always clean, neat and pressed-- and always reliable.”
Wishbone Ash: Argus (1972)
Championed by Ritchie Blackmore, Wishbone Ash forged an unlikely style that wedded the prog rock artiness of Yes to the twin-guitar power of the Allman Brothers. On their third album, the group delivered an exquisite blend of pastoral folk fare and meticulously crafted hard rock. Guitarist Andy Powell’s serpentine runs on a Flying V became a trademark for the band.
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (1988)
At their best, Sonic Youth employed the twin tools of abrasion and melody to hammer out something beautifully sublime. On this sprawling, deliberately fractured two-disc set, guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo employed ringing harmonics, molten distortion, and alternate tunings as they veered between the urgency of punk rock and avant-garde experimentation. Not since the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat had an album so deftly maneuvered between art and chaos.
Television: Marquee Moon (1977)
Released against the backdrop of the punk explosion, Television’s 1977 debut consisted of New Wave art rock centered on a jaggedly brilliant twin-guitar approach. Guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd crafted serpentine leads that soared with clarion-call beauty. Artists such as Patti Smith and Sonic Youth drew extensively from Television’s stylistic approach.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Zuma (1975)
Neil Young once describe his work with Crazy Horse as mysterious and cosmic. Those qualities are in great abundance on Zuma, an underrated album that saw Young locked in glorious tandem with Crazy Horse guitarist Frank Sampredo. The epics “Danger Bird” and “Cortez the Killer” boast astral solos that sound wrung from another dimension, while blurring the lines between lead and rhythm playing.
David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
David Bowie vexed critics and fans throughout the ‘70s with his chameleon-like changes. One of his most dramatic mutations occurred with the release of this hard rock effort. Sporting thunderous bass lines and ferocious riffage from guitar great Mick Ronson—who of course played his legendary ‘68 Les Paul Custom —the album wedded doomsday theatrics to an emphatically British brand of heavy metal. Bowie and Ronson never sounded more menacing.
The Guess Who: American Woman (1970)
The Guess Who were already known as makers of radio-friendly pop by the ‘70s. But with this guitar-drenched effort, the group gained credibility among their harder-rocking peers. High points include the psychedelic-tinged “No Time” and the classic title track—a muscular rock anthem built on an unforgettable riff worked up by Randy Bachman during a concert jam.
Lou Reed: The Blue Mask (1982)
Lou Reed once said that to play rock and roll, nothing beats the tried-and-true format of two guitars, bass and drums. This brilliant album gives credence to that assertion—with an emphatic emphasis on the guitars. Reed and co-player Robert Quine offer up stunning six-string interplay from start to finish. Recognizing the guitar-centric nature of the album, Reed mixed his and Quine’s guitar parts separately into the right and left stereo channels—the better to isolate their interlocking parts.
Montrose: Montrose (1973)
Although this monumental album eventually went platinum years after its release, its commercial popularity was far outstripped by its longstanding influence. With all due respect to such bands as Steppenwolf and Grand Funk Railroad, Ronnie Montrose forged a hard rock style that, in retrospect, anticipated the six-string pyrotechnics that would come to dominate the metal landscape in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Not surprisingly, Montrose employed a Les Paul as his go-to guitar during the making of the album.
Mott the Hoople: Mott (1973)
Fresh off a big score with their recording of Bowie’s “All the Young Dudes,” Mott the Hoople entered the studio in April 1973 and, in two weeks, created a masterpiece. Inspired by some of the strongest material frontman Ian Hunter would ever write, guitarist Mick Ralphs delivered a textbook-worthy showcase of memorable riffs and economical solos. His monumental guitar break on “Hymn for the Dudes”—played on a Les Paul Junior--is essential listening for any player seeking to learn how to craft a song-serving solo.
Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty was rushed to the hospital last Saturday (Aug. 24) after experiencing shortness of breath while performing in Switzerland. It’s since been determined the veteran vocalist suffered a stroke.
As reported by Classic Rock, the incident marks the second time in two months McCafferty has experienced breathing problems during a performance. The first incident occurred on July 9 in Cranbrook, Canada, when the singer collapsed just 30 seconds into the band’s opening song. An associate of the group told Classic Rock, “Dan is alright, but I think we will not see more [tour dates].”
McCafferty’s health woes come in the midst of sessions for Nazareth’s 24th studio album. A list of gigs on the band’s home page has been removed.
In 1977 Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band sold out the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Detroit for 8 consecutive nights. It would take 36 years for an artist to match that, when Motor City native Kid Rock managed the same feet earlier this month.
As a surprise to his fans, Rock brought up Seger as a special guest for the encore. Rock and Seeger did “Old Time Rock And Roll,” and “All Summer Long” to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd.
Rock and Seger have shared the stage on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, and they’ve made guest appearances on each other’s albums. Speaking to Classic Rock after the show Kid Rock said he’s open to future collaborations with Seger: “I’m sure there’s more for us to do. Those shows went so great. It was beyond mind-blowing. There’s definitely something there.”
Bob Seger is getting ready to head back in the studio to work on a follow-up to 2006’s Face The Promise. Although no release date has been set, Seger has been playing the song “All of the Roads” during his latest tour, which is supposed to be included on the new album.
Peter Frampton, Paul McCartney and Tommy Lee have all worked with Italian musician Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo (real name, Simone Cogo) on the Bloody Beetroots’ new album, Hide. The Bloody Beetroots usual sound is a mix of electro/rock music.
McCartney joined Rifo on the recent single “Out of Sight.” Frampton guests on a track called “The Beat.” Lee lends a hand on a tune called “Raw.”
"I was impressed by the creative energy in the room when you get three musicians from three different generations vibing together in the studio," Rifo said after working with McCartney and producer/bassist Youth on "Out of Sight."
The cover art for Hide was created by Italian comics illustrator Tanino Liberatore, the hand behind the cover art for the Bloody Beetroots’ last studio album, Romborama.
“It’s my attempt at trying to make a really hard-edge type Dead Kennedys sounding song," guitarist Mike McCready explains. "Jeff Ament brought in a lot of his real punk-rock ideas. The school he comes from is that, and I wanted to dive into that side."
The clip is directed by Danny Clinch, who directed the band's Immagine In Cornice concert DVD as well as John Mayer's Where The Light Is and Foo Fighters' Skin and Bones.
Lightning Bolt, which is the band's first album since 2009's Backspacer, will be released on October 14. The band is currently on the road in the US through December, and will headline Australia and New Zealand's Big Day Out festival in January.
Joan Jett has told L.A. Weekly she can’t see the point in a Runaways reunion. She thinks there would be more bad than good were it to take place.
Lita Ford reported in 2012 that she, Jett and Cherie Currie had settled the differences resulting from their 1980 split, that she had dined with both her former bandmates. The topic of getting back together was raised.
But, at the time, Ford added: “I don’t know how Joan feels about it. I couldn’t get a solid answer from her. If she decides she wants to put together the Runaways again, I’d be in 100 per cent.”
Now, Jett now tells L.A. Weekly, “I don’t really get why we should do it – the down side is bigger than the up side. It would be fun for people to see, but you’ve got to remember we’re not who we were in 1976. It’s not worth it to me. We had a great band that kicked ass for three and a half years. I’m very protective of it because it was very special to me.
“To come back and have the press judge us… Plus, you can’t gauge the dynamics of the band. I’m just not sure it would be the reunion the fans are looking for.”
Jett releases her new Blackhearts album Unvarnished in October 1. She says, “It’s some of the better writing I’ve done in a long time.”
There’s been a London “pop-up” store for Jimi Hendrix. Now it’s the turn of The Clash.
“Black Market Clash” will open in London’s Soho district in September.
The store is opening to mark the release of The Clash’s Hits Back and Sound System collections, alongside re-releases of all of the band’s studio albums.
The shop/gallery is art-directed and curated by the surviving members of the band and Robert Gordon McHarg lll of The Subway Gallery. “Black Market Clash” will be open from 7-22 September 2013 at 75 Berwick Street, Soho, London.
It will sell and display rare Clash memorabilia, including instruments and stage clothing.
Sid Bernstein, the music promoter who famously brought The Beatles to Shea Stadium and Carnegie Hall, has died. He was 95.
Bernstein was key force in fomenting the ‘60s British Invasion of America. In addition to showcasing The Beatles, he brought such artists as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits and The Moody Blues to the U.S. when the careers of those bands were in their early stages. Other artists he for whom he served as promoter included Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and, later, Lenny Kravitz.
The concerts he promoted for The Beatles are legendary. On February 9, 1964, the group debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show and, three days later, played two shows at Carnegie Hall. Bernstein brought the band back a year later for the famous Shea Stadium concert. He remained active as recently as last year, releasing an album titled Sid Bernstein Presents.