You Don’t Need to Break the Bank to Celebrate 50 Years of Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”

The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is my favourite album of all time. Full stop. It is the album I love the most, the one I can pretty much listen to whenever I want and enjoy it. The song “Time” features what I think is probably my favourite lyric ever, courtesy of Roger Waters:

Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught
Or half a page of scribbled lines

The Dark Side of the Moon speaks to me more now than it did back some thirty plus years ago, when I was obsessively listening to it and The Wall while wallowing in my teenage angst. Because, at 46 years of age with a daughter who is growing up way too quickly, every year is getting shorter, and I am battling against those plans and scribbled lines I don’t want to come to naught.

Make no mistake, with 45 million copies of The Dark Side of the Moon sold worldwide, I’m clearly not the only one who has found comfort within its 43 minutes. Hell, I’ve bought it more times than any other album, other than perhaps The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. I had it on cassette and cd when I was in high school (the cd was part of the Shine On box set); I bought the 30th anniversary SACD remaster in 2003, even though I didn’t have a SACD player. I had it in the Oh, By The Way box set of 2007, the 2011 Discovery box set and the massive Immersion set released that same year, and which featured live music, alternate mixes, Surround Sound offerings and so much more (including marbles!)

Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon 50 years ago, so of course they’d find a way to celebrate that milestone. In this case its a new box set which I’ve elected not to purchase since the only “new” thing included is a Dolby Atmos mix which I listened to this morning via Apple Music and found sadly completely unnecessary. The whole Spatial Audio concept sounds good in theory, but after listening to DSOTM for the 2000th time, the only thing I could say was enticing and new with this experience was that the voices heard throughout the album were a little more upfront. Other than that, it’s the same great album, but certainly not worth shelling out hundreds of dollars for a new box set of.

The set also comes with a new hardcover photo album that thankfully one can purchase separately (you can do that here, if you’re inclined.) The good news about Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon is that it is, as you’d expect from the band, beautifully put together. The less good news is that it is solely a photo book, with some album art included that documents the process that became the legendary album cover. There is NO copy until the back of the book, and even then we’re only given simple context for the photos. There’s nothing contained here that details the history of DSOTM‘s creation. Yes, it would be tough to get an accurate account from Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and the late Richard Wright considering the ongoing animosity between Waters and Gilmour, but this feels like a horribly missed opportunity to give some sort of historical context for such a truly monumental occasion.

I’ve long considered myself a Pink Floyd completist; I own both The Early Years and The Later Years sets, which were purchased at full price when they came out (and for the record, I’ve never regretted the decisions or the expenses); this time, though, as much as I love The Dark Side of the Moon, yet another box set was not only unappealing, but based on what we got, was also pretty unwarranted if there wasn’t much new to share. If you want everything DSOTM, you can still find the Immersion box set out there for a price that, while hefty, arguably justifies its costs, at least musically in comparison to the new 50th anniversary set.

Otherwise, save your money, grab some headphones and listen to your old cds or stream the Atmos mix, and wait for Roger Waters’ re-working of the album, which is due out later this year and that will at the very least give us something genuinely new to listen to.

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