THE PLAYLIST | Best Covers Of Dark Side Of The Moon
“The sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon”
Released in March, 1973, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon remains a timeless work of art. Unlike many works of musical art which have taken on a cult status – The Velvet Underground & Nico, Big Star’s #1 Record, and Love’s Forever Changes, Dark Side Of The Moon differs in that it sold very big from the start.
In truth, the album has sold forty-five million copies and stayed on the US Billboard Charts for fourteen years (1973 – 1987) – dropping off and then returning yearly ever since. For an album that runs for 42 minutes, and sports a simple black cover with a light spectrum straight out of a physics textbook, its longevity has defied all the odds.
It also begs the question: beneath those sonic qualities, what really is it all about?
“Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash”
The Dark Side Of The Moon is a work with a clear direction. A conceptual album symbolizing the despair and at times the dark reality of humanity. When originally released, the album’s format was on vinyl (or cassette), and the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides are representative of those themes.
For example, Side A represents the journey of life; birth and infancy (‘Breathe (In The Air)’), fear and anxiety (‘On The Run’), the passing of life (‘Time’) and eventually death (‘The Great Gig In The Sky’). The B Side then represents greed and wealth (‘Money’), paranoia (‘Us And Them’) and a descent into madness (‘Brain Damage’). Towards the conclusion we get a lesson and part tribute to Floyd’s fallen hero Syd Barrett, a thread that would run into the following albums Wish You Were Here and The Wall.
“And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”
Presently, the principal lyricist of the album Roger Waters, now estranged from the remains of Pink Floyd (David Gilmour, Nick Mason), is in the process of re-recording The Dark Side Of The Moon. Why? Nobody really knows, but to some (yours truly) it is a project that is not needed – the original has stood for fifty-years, and will survive time itself.
According to a Rolling Stone Magazine article, he is quoted as stating “(because) not enough people recognised what it’s about, what it was I was saying then,” (February 9th). Before that happens, I have put together a playlist reflecting the influence and scope The Dark Side Of The Moon has had. From acts who primarily focus on Alternative Metal, Folk, Southern Rock and Jazz, it gives us a picture of how important this album really is.
#1. Gov’t Mule – Speak To Me
Very few bands have the stamina of Gov’t Mule. The side project of The Allman Brothers Band, has made a tradition of paying tribute to their influences. For example Holy Haunted House, a live tribute to Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy and the similar Stoned, a tribute to the Rolling Stones. But they went one step further with Dark Side Of The Mule, where the Southern Rock and Blues outfit took on a 3 hour set of Pink Floyd numbers, which included a majority of Dark Side Of The Moon.
#2. Gov’t Mule – Breathe (In The Air)
Including the two tracks here by Mule, it seems to keep the collage ‘Speak To Me’ and the dreamy ‘Breathe (In The Air)’ together as one caustic opening. Thankfully Mule kept that dimension of steel guitars that beautifully tone the landscape that is forming.
#3. Mary Fahl – On The Run
Not the most widely covered Pink Floyd song, so does have to be paid to Mary Fahl for venturing into the void with this. In many ways Fahl keeps that paranoid fear of travel and flying while expanding on the original sequence. The singer-songwriter took a change of pace from her Folk and Adult Contemporary music framework and instead created a tribute to Floyd and the album with 2011’s From The Dark Side Of The Moon.
#4. Godsmack – Time
This is an onslaught of a tribute by the Massachusetts based Godsmack. Usually treading a line between Heavy and Alternative Metal, they reign in that intensity to give ‘Time’ some fittingly sonic praise. Some fourteen years into their career, and with the 2012 release Live And Inspired, fans received a bonus disc containing this Pink Floyd classic along with covers of The Beatles, Joe Walsh and Metallica.
#5. The Flaming Lips – The Great Gig In The Sky
If there was a band today, who takes the same creative risks as Pink Floyd did, then Flaming Lips are that band. It is no surprise they paid dues to their influence, and in 2009 they did that with some respectful results. With collaborative help, and released under the name; The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon, everything is summoned up perfectly. The complete album is remodeled, and worth noting here; Peaches recreates the original Clare Torry vocal parts that have to be heard.
#6. Velvet Revolver – Money
There is no denying how sadly missed Velvet Revolver remain, and the loss of vocalist Scott Weiland means we will perhaps never see them return. This cracking version of ‘Money’ appeared as a bonus song on their ‘Slither’ CD single, but hearing Slash reimagine the guitar lines of David Gilmour, and Duff McKagan put an extra edge on Roger Waters’ bass playing, this is an exceptional reworking.
#7. Between The Buried And Me – Us And Them
The North Carolina intensity of Between The Buried And Me has consistently blazed a respectable career since the beginning of the century. Usually a band connected with Metalcore, and Progressive Metal, for their covers album, 2006’s The Anatomy Of, the band let fans into their influence and featured this track. Altogether an interesting collection of King Crimson, Queen, and Depeche Mode tracks found between Sepultura, and Metallica covers.
#8. Robben Ford – Any Colour You Like
The American Jazz, Blues guitarist Robben Ford has played with the legends of music. He has lent his hand to the sound of Miles Davis, George Harrison and Joni Mitchell, alongside these sessions he has kept up a very steady and productive solo career. With ‘Any Colour You Like’, he is joined by drummer Aynsley Dunbar (Frank Zappa), keyboardist Steve Pocaro (Toto), and bassist Tony Franklin (Jimmy Page) for the 2002 tribute album A Special Tribute To Pink Floyd. That title nails exactly what it is.
#9. Robby Krieger – Brain Damage
Well this is a gem that should not be hidden away. The Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger covering a Pink Floyd song is a surprising choice but equally exquisite to hear. From Krieger’s In Session album from 2017, an album of obvious sessions with guest musicians, the guitarist a string of talent such as Jackson Browne, Hawkwind’s Nik Turner, and William Shatner (yes, Captain Kirk). On ‘Brain Damage’ he is joined by keyboardist Geoff Downes (Buggles) and XTC’s Colin Moulding to recreate the drama of the original.
#10. Hans Zimmer – Eclipse
There is a valid reason why this version of ‘Eclipse’ is important, and why it is included here. Hans Zimmer recreated the song for the 2021 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, the second attempt of creating the mammoth sci-fi novel into a visual spectacular. However, over the years there have been many attempts to bring Dune to the big screen. In the early seventies, French director Alejandro Jodorowsky was set to create a ten hour movie adaptation, with Pink Floyd providing the soundtrack. Unfortunately that project failed to take off, nevertheless this is a fitting tribute or throwback to the idea.
The complete playlist:
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon: