Words by Noel Davila
The question you must be asking yourselves is ‘Who would want to cover Dark Side of the Moon?’, an album so perfect in so many different aspects, that even its cover has become an iconic image. Pink Floyd released this classic album in 1973 and since then it’s been regarded as one of the finest records to listen to while taking drugs and/or having sex. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about this. This masterpiece of an album shattered records by staying 14 long years on the Billboard chart and received a loyal cult following when it was revealed that it runs in sync with the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz – something the band has repeatedly denied was done intentionally.
So after releasing an EP and a full-length album in 2009, The Flaming Lips have decided to close the year with a digital-only release of their version of Dark Side. With the help of singer Peaches alongside former Black Flag frontman and spoken-word artist, Henry Rollins, the Lips offer a very unique take on one of Pink Floyd’s most revered albums.
From the beginning, it becomes apparent that this version of Dark Side will be completely different. The first thing we hear is Henry Rollins’ familiar voice saying, “I’ve been mad for fucking years…” Throughout the tracks, Rollins comes in from time to time, emulating the voices heard on the background of the original recording. Other notable differences include Michael Ivins’ dirty bassline on ‘Breathe’, which gives the song more groove than the spaced-out rock of the original. Also, the vocal solo on ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is sampled from the original and given a filtered, AM-sounding treatment that makes it sound more like a Jack White guitar solo than anything else.
Speaking of guitar solos, some of David Gilmour’s solos are simply omitted, as is the case in ‘Money’, where we also find its memorable bassline intro played by what sounds like a guitar with a subtle tinge of a wah-wah pedal. ‘Us and Them’, the epic track that provided Dark Side of the Moon with its climax, is interpreted by the Lips in the opposite direction presenting broken down parts with Wayne Coyne’s vocals front and center with little accompaniment. The song’s original saxophone solo is played by a trebly sounding guitar, which was surely the job of multi-instrumentalist, Steven Drozd.
The Flaming Lips’ interpretation is a solid collection of peculiar sounds and original arrangements, which could have only come from this unparalleled band that began in 1983 in Oklahoma. Some reviewers on iTunes have called the album a desecration, while other reviews have an angry ‘How dare they?’ tone to them. Perhaps this album isn’t for everybody, considering that it shares more with early Lips albums than it does with a track like ‘Do you realize?’ If you only own Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it might take a couple of listens to really sink your teeth into this album.
Regardless, this work is further proof that The Flaming Lips remain one of the most creative and innovative bands of the past 30 years. Perhaps this recording will serve as a bridge for listeners to explore and experience early Lips albums and grasp the full scope of who they were in the past and how they became the gold and platinum selling artists we know and love today.
“Dark Side of the Moon”
© December 22nd, 2009
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