For any artist, a book focused on one album could be a tall order, in terms of telling the story, and keeping the interest. For some bands, famed for hell-raising, there could be a compelling story driving the creation of their latest masterpiece, but Pink Floyd have never been lumped in to the same category as, say, The Who or Led Zep in terms of excesses.
However, in the right hands, a compelling story can be related about one particular album or era, and Brian Southall, who worked at EMI Records/EMI Music for 15 years, has written the excellent Dark Side of the Moon Revealed, which is now in bookstores in a relaunched edition (it originally appeared in 2013) and heartily recommended. At the base of our review, you’ll find a competition to win one of three copies of the book.
Things start with a thorough guide through most, if not all of the key figures particularly relating to The Dark Side of the Moon (albeit with the odd typo and layout glitch which seems to peculiarly affect this section alone). It is good to have some background on some of the lesser known characters, all of which playing key roles in the project.
The book proper starts with two well-researched and paced chapters running through the band's early days, with a certain focus on the recording front (partly informed by Southall's background), and the record company aspects of their beginnings as a professional outfit.
The focus then shifts to the development of The Dark Side of the Moon, not just from a musical point of view (with some fascinating discussion of the 1972 shows, which premiered the piece to the public), but from a presentation and release point of view as well. This includes some previously undiscussed commentary regarding the reservations that the Floyd had over the US record company side of things - in particular, the band's releases appearing on Tower Records, seen as a minor label, and Capitol Records itself being perceived as less than enthusiastic over the band's catalogue.
In then steps Bhaskar Menon, then chairman of Capitol, who (as the book details) was determined to have the Floyd's then new album on the Capitol label rather than face the prospect of it going to their rivals CBS.
Following on from a surprisingly readable and absorbing section on the business machinations to convince the band (and more specifically, Steve O'Rourke, their manager) of the suitability of Capitol as the US label for the release of the album, here are some great insights into the creation of the iconic cover - including detail of how the plan was to shrink-wrap The Dark Side of the Moon to keep any identifying names or titles away from sight: an idea, of course, finally used on Wish You Were Here. There's even some coverage over the confusion/contradiction in various places about whether or not the album title should include 'The'. As a rule, we tend to include the definite article when mentioning the album, but as Southall relates, there are even contradictions on particular versions of the album release!
Once the narrative reaches the release of the album, a decent commentary then sets out the success of the TDSOTM over the years, but continues the story, giving a précis of the years that followed. Despite not in any way to the same depth or detail of the rest of the book, the story is told well and provides a good look at what was to come, bringing things relatively up to date. The only slight odd note for me was the final section of the book which has small (roughly half-page in many instances) essays by enthusiasts of the album - fans and those within the Floyd "universe" - all giving their memories and perspectives.
With Southall's unique position, in terms of employment and also access to various members of the band, technical and creative teams, and management, this book provides a surprisingly absorbing look not just at The Dark Side of the Moon (although the focus is naturally on this), but is generally a well written guide to the band.
You can order the book through the following direct links: Amazon UK, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Spain and Amazon Italy.
WIN A COPY!
With thanks to the publishers, we have three copies of this book to give away in the latest Brain Damage competition. To enter, all you need to do is answer this question correctly:
- Under what alternate name was The Dark Side of the Moon known as in the early days?
Email your answer to
with the subject line of "DSOTM Revealed Book competition", and include your name and mailing address. The closing date is February 5th, 2016, and all entries received by the end of that date will be in with a chance of winning. Just one entry per household please - and best of luck to you all!