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Pink Floyd and the Dark Side of the Moon: 50 Years

Pink Floyd and the Dark Side of the Moon: 50 Years

Book Review by Todd McFliker

Correlated with the record’s anniversary, veteran music critic Martin Popoff’s Pink Floyd and the Dark Side of the Moon: 50 Years will be released in March. The new book shares historical facts and unknown tales, complimented by vivid live photos. SFL Music and I had the pleasure of speaking to the Canadian author about the generation-spanning masterpiece that explores themes of madness, time and greed.

SFL Music: You’ve written hundreds of books and articles on heavy metal and rock in general. What stands out about Dark Side: 50 Years?

Martin Popoff: It was very cool getting to write a book on a band like this because the concept wasn’t an interview based book. Otherwise, I was never going to be able to write a book on Pink Floyd. I also loved the idea that it’s a book on just one album, so I really got to dig right into it. I am a fan of the album and the band. It wasn’t until the late Seventies that I became a fan because we were angry metalheads as kids. Pink Floyd was far too mellow for us. But as my mind started expanding in the late Seventies, I probably came onboard with Animals (1977). Then The Wall (1979) before I got back to Dark Side (1973). Obviously this is an absolute classic. It almost seems like the very first perfectly recorded album where there is nothing lacking. Technology did not hold them back. It has all the highs and all the lows you would want. It’s almost like the first ultimate stereo test album. I clearly think of 1973 and this record as being a big leap up into audio perfection. Everything sounds as good as you could ever possibly want an album to sound like. It’s timeless. Before Dark Side, there were limitations to everything.

The other interesting thing about Pink Floyd is we always have that debate, are they a progressive rock band? They are so totally unique in what they do. They are quiet and dreamy. Some would say they have boredom built into what they do. It’s funny when you watch YouTube videos with young kids. I’ve seen the odd one that says ‘I can’t believe everyone raves about this album. It’s so boring.’ So that’s a funny thing about Pink Floyd. They are literally in no hurry to do what they’re doing. None of the individual players are trying to please anyone with virtuosity. It’s all about the atmosphere of what they put together. If you’re going to call Pink Floyd progressive it’s more because of their concepts and album covers. One of the other cool things that made them famous, it might seem kind of trivial today, is having all those little spoken word bits and sound effects in it. This is an album where they play that up to great mystery.

SFL Music: Can you tell me about the book’s artwork?

Popoff: This is a really nicely designed book. That why I like doing books for these guys, (publishers) Motorbooks. It comes in a slipcase. I also appreciate those old black and white English weekly music paper ads, so there are lots of those mixed in with the photography of the band live. There are 45 rpm record sleeves and pictures of weird stuff, like Abbey Road and some of the guests that played on the album. Every chapter is on an aspect of The Dark Side of the Moon. So at the end of it, you get a complete picture. It’s a full color book with great shots of memorabilia and the band playing live.

SFL Music: In your lengthy career, how have you seen publishing change with the internet?

Popoff: The interesting thing about it is that the publishing industry has barely changed at all compared to the music, where all physical platforms are essentially gone. Even downloading is almost gone because it’s all streaming now. Book have not changed very much. E-books came on and had their initial surge. Now they say e-book amount for 15% to 20% of books. But its relatively stable. Oddly enough, this industry hasn’t changed that much.

There are two changes I see from when I first started doing this (in 1993). First, there are many more rock books out there. The other thing is people don’t necessarily need a book like this. If you want to find out everything about The Dark Side of the Moon, you can just read pages and pages of things onscreen, whether it’s on your phone, a tablet or a desktop. All the information is out there to keep anybody who’s curious about any subject going for as long as they want. The nice thing about books is they get your eyes away from staring at a screen. It’s also a great way to collect photography. I think it’s nice to have images printed on paper in a book, so everything is in one place. So publishing hasn’t changed nearly as much as the music industry.

SFL Music: Can you give me some final thoughts on Dark Side: 50 Years?

Popoff: The neat thing about this book is it’s set up to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the album. Essentially, this book is the biggest, boldest, coolest, longest, version of a record’s linear notes with full color photos. It all takes you back to that album that you thought you knew everything about. I thoroughly enjoy getting this massive amount of detail on one small subject. You’re going to love Pink Floyd’s work of art even more after reading the book.

Everything that Martin Popoff has published is now available at www.martinpopoff.com.

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