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Home arrow Reviews arrow Box Sets arrow Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon 2011 Immersion edition
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon 2011 Immersion edition Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Sunday, 30 October 2011

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion boxsetWhen the Why Pink Floyd remaster and collectors edition release schedule was announced, and the contents of the sets revealed, fans across the world were rightly stunned by the sudden change of heart over what they were to be treated to, with the vaults being opened up for the first time so that the fans could hear lost gems. The scale of the releases took everyone (very pleasantly) by surprise, and comments made by Nick Mason have furthered the general excitement by hinting at more to come.

Anyway, today our attention is on The Dark Side Of The Moon. Having Discovered the single disc edition of the album, Experienced the expanded two disc set which is augmented by the band playing the album live at Wembley's Empire Pool in 1974, we were ready to Immerse ourselves in everything that this six disc, two book, three marble, one print, five collector card, one replica ticket/pass, nine coaster (and one scarf) set has to offer!

From that little run-down you'll realise that this is not your normal, run-of-the-mill collection, and therefore to continue our reviews from this release programme, we've taken a detailed look at the contents over the last few weeks (it takes a while to fully appreciate everything on offer!), including a track-by-track analysis of one of the many highlights of the set, the 1972 Early Mix of the album...

Let's start by running through the contents, disc by disc.

The first CD contains the album, remastered sensitively in 2011 by James Guthrie. We review this in our look at the Discovery Editions and Box Set. The new edition features a little polish here and there, but no major differences to that heard in 2003 for the 30th anniversary release. But let's face it - the set would be incomplete without the "basic" edition!

Disc two, also a CD, holds the live performance, recorded over two nights in November 1974 at the Empire Pool, Wembley. The venue, once an Olympic swimming venue (hence the name) was subsequently renamed the Wembley Arena, although the pool does still exist under the main floor. The owners aren't allowed to remove this due to the protected status of the building, although this does cause a few acoustic issues for sound engineers setting up shows there, we understand! The live recording is hugely enjoyable, and one we have found ourselves going back to often. Superb instrumental separation, a confident, absorbing performance, and a nice atmosphere all add up to a real pleasure. This disc is the other disc found in the Experience edition, again reviewed separately here.

Disc three is the first of two non-region coded DVDs, and in this instance, is audio-only. It provides the stereo mix of the album, as per disc one, two different resolution versions of the Alan Parsons Quad mix from 1973, and two different resolution versions of the 5.1 mix created for the 2003 SACD release (useful for those who either never bought this, or for those without the necessary equipment to play SACDS - which form the majority of music lovers, as the format never made it into the "mainstream"). All of these mixes sound great, but for even better quality, you'll need to play disc five...

Disc four is the second non-region coded DVD, and contains video material - Careful With That Axe, Eugene and Set The Controls, both filmed in Brighton, June 1972 (discussed below), the 2003 DSOTM documentary (also discussed below), and the screen films from the British and French tours of 1974, and the North American tour of 1975, synchronised to stereo and 5.1 surround audio. These screen films are fascinating and give an idea of one aspect of the mid-70s tours. It's interesting to see how they developed as the tours progressed, and also how the odd image seems to be censored or changed depending on where it was to be shown.

Disc five is a non-region locked Blu-ray disc, and principally covers the same material as the DVDs which form discs three and four, above, but also offers it in higher quality (96kHz/24bit) uncompressed linear PCM high resolution audio. This gives stunning renditions of the music, irrespective of which version you pick. If you are able to play Blu-ray discs in multi-channel, we really urge you to give this disc a thorough run-through. Your ears will thank you! The HD nature of the visual side is nicely done - the main menu screen gives various refracting prisms, and an instrumental mix of Breathe accompanies you while you make your choice from the options available. The video included on this disc is nicely presented, from the 1972 footage which displays little in the way of grain, to the 2003 DSOTM documentary.

Going into a little more detail on this, the Brighton footage clearly shows its attempt to cope with available light - yes, there is a little grain but that's entirely consistant, the colours are strong, and the performances are very atmospheric. The sound has a degree of hiss and a slight lack of dynamic range, but having seen this a number of times over the years on various compilations (official and otherwise) this is clearly the best version to date. It's just a shame that either no other songs were filmed, or that if they were, the footage has never been shown in public. Curiously, of the two tracks, Set The Controls seems in generally better quality but that's possibly due to different lighting effects on stage making life easier for the cameras.

The 2003 DSOTM documentary is a fascinating 25 minute look, created for the SACD release. If you've not seen this before, it's a good examination of the album's creation, with all four band members interviewed for it.

As with the DVD, the Blu-ray also contains the hidden "easter egg" of an extra piece of audio. It's also the best way to view all of the audio/video content, if you've the equipment to play it.

Finally, we get to the CD which is disc six. For many fans, this contains some of the biggest gems of the whole set. In a moment, we'll share with you a Brain Damage contributor's track-by-track look at the Alan Parson's mix heard here for the first time, but let's look at what else you get on this disc first.

Possibly the most unexpected track on this disc is The Hard Way, an outtake from the aborted Household Objects project. Sounding nothing like I was expecting (indeed - it wouldn't have sounded out of place if they'd have labelled it a demo from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason!) this proved a fascinating listen and a taste of what could have been, had their patience at this rather tortuous idea lasted longer.

Following up this gem, is Richard Wright's demo of Us And Them, which is beautiful, and sad, and just performed on piano, without any vocal or other adornment. There's also a demo of The Travel Sequence, and Roger's original demo of Money. Rounding out the early versions are live renditions of The Travel Sequence, The Mortality Sequence, and Any Colour You Like, all recorded live in Brighton, 1972, and showcase how these tracks initially sounded, before they got refined into much more what we all know now. As a stepping stone to the final version, engineer Alan Parsons completed a much talked about early mix, which until now, has not been in the public domain...but now it is, and it forms the next section of this review, where we take a track-by-track look at how it differs.

REVIEW OF PINK FLOYD'S THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON EARLY MIX (ALAN PARSONS, 1972)
By BD contributor, Eric Blaustein
EQUIPMENT USED:
Receiver – Yamaha Rx-V757, set to "7ch Stereo"
CD Player – Sony SACD player SCD-C200ES, using an optical audio cable, set to regular CD function
Speakers (Front L&R) – Polk Audio Tower Speakers (RTi10)
Speakers (Center) – Bose cube speaker
Speakers (Rear L&R) – Sapphire Tower Speakers (ST2 MKII)
Sub – Infinity (WF-50H)
Headphones – Sennheiser (CX 485) & (PXC 350 NoiseGard)

TRACK 1: Breathe (In the Air)
When I sat back on my couch, preparing to once again listen to one of the most groundbreaking and sonically pleasing albums of all time, I was in for quite a surprise: The familiar heartbeat that bookends the classic album, the ticking of clocks, Floyd roadie Chris Adamson's “I've been mad for fucking years…,” and the giggling and manic laughter of Peter Watts were all absent!

In fact, upon reading the track listing, one can clearly notice the track “Speak to Me” does not appear. The reason? Avid Floyd historians will be able to tell you that according to Roger Waters, the voices weren't added until the end of the final 1973 mix that we have all come to know and love.

Instead, we are treated to an alternate introduction to the opening track. A minor chord is sustained for about 25 seconds and all the while, the chord is panned down along with a volume crescendo, giving the listener the feeling that a plane is landing while passing just over our heads. At about 0:25, the familiar E-minor (9th) chord kicks in identical to the 1973 original album.

The coolest feature about this mix is that all of the different instruments and vocals can be heard more clearly, giving the album a more simple and at the same time, spectacular sound. On the “Dark Side of the Moon 2003 Documentary,” David Gilmour informs us that the 1973 release comes from 3rd generations tapes. I'm going to venture to say that this 1972 Early Mix is from a 1st generation tape, thus explaining its crystal clarity.

For example, at 1:28, two notes from David's Lap Steel come out of the right speaker that alters the entire “lap steel intro”. When I listened for this on the original album, I was able to hear it, but it is so faint that I never knew it was there. It is also just as inaudible in the SACD version as well.

The harmony part of David's double-tracked vocals are much more pronounced in this mix, giving the entire song a brighter feel, almost as if some had increased the speed on a vinyl record player. This reminded me of when The Doors released their 40th Anniversary remastered self-titled album in 2009. In it, the entire album is played back a faster speed, thus bringing the entire album a half-step higher! To clarify, this is not the case with “Dark Side…”

Throughout this mix of “Breathe,” Roger's bass has a more deliberate feel as if we can hear every note being played and not lost among the other parts. It also appears that the volume of his bass is also a bit louder. Likewise, Nick Mason's drum parts are more clear and distinct but no apparent difference in volume.

Saving the best for last, Rick's piano and organ parts out of the right speaker/ear are amazing! Again, these are parts never heard before on the original album AND on the SACD. I recommend putting on a good pair of Sennheiser headphones in a quite setting: Between the last word of the line “Breathe, breathe in the air…” and “Don't” in “Don't be afraid to care,” Rick plays a few notes that contribute to the “new feel” of one of my favorite Floyd songs.

Also, listen for the chord changes via Rick's organ, also from out of the right speaker/ear when Gilmour sings the following lyrics in CAPS: “For LONG you live, and high you fly” “and SMILES you give, and tears you'll cry,” “ALL you touch and all you see” “Is ALL your life will ever be.” These now audible organ chord changes lead into the famous “rushing” organ parts that we're all used to hearing.

TRACK 2: On The Run
Aside from watching “Live in Pompeii” and Classic Albums “The Making of the Dark Side of the Moon” a million and one times, I'm not too familiar with the “Synthi A” or the “VCS3” to write exactly what's going on in this piece. However, I did notice a few differences, followed by commentary on “The Travel Sequence”. This track is 20 seconds shorter than the 1973 release. The woman's voice making airport announcements, along with “Live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me. Haha!” were absent. Additionally, the footsteps appear much earlier on this version than the 1973 release. A few new sound bites such as a British ambulance and a train whizzing by make their appearance. The piece quietly finishes sans airplane crashing sound with the initial ticking of clocks that segue into “Time.”

It's interesting that the Floyd were “were not all that happy” with their jam-piece, “The Travel Sequence” during the recording of DSOTM. On the same CD as the “1972 Early Mix,” are two versions of “The Travel Sequence.” After hearing both “Travel Sequence” tracks several times, I love it MORE than “On The Run” for a few reasons: first, the Floyd get very little credit for their “jamming out ability.” I love Nick and Roger's work together. A fool once labelled them as “the most boring rhythm-section in all of Rock & Roll.” I disagree. Mix this with David's “scat” and Rick's syncopated piano chords and we're talking “Jam-City.” Second, I've always wanted to hear more “jam” pieces from The Floyd than just “Echoes” and “Any Colour You Like”.” I'm not criticizing the brilliant ground-breaking work they did with “On The Run,” but I'd love to get my hands on a “Dark Side” studio mix with more human “Travel Sequence” instead of the mechanical “On The Run.”

TRACK 3: Time
Aside from the enhanced clarity, the biggest difference between this version and the original album is there is more echo on Gilmour and Wright's vocal parts. Additionally, there is a “heartbeat-like” rhythm during both of Rick's vocals and the second half of Gilmour's guitar solo. The song also ends without seguing into “Great Gig” as heard on the 1973 album.

TRACK 4: The Great Gig In The Sky
When I first heard this version, my first reaction was, “What the bleep happened to the vocals?!?” quickly followed by, “Wow! Listen to that organ!” I'm a huge admirer of Rick Wright's contributions to Pink Floyd. He's the John Paul Jones of the group. Without his musical talent and input, the Floyd-sound along with their success would not have existed. Sit back and enjoy this jewel! (PS – I could do without the NASA crap)

TRACK 5: Money
I guess Roger found more toys to play with in his ex-wife's pottery shed for this intro on "Money"!! Joking aside, it's a pretty neat intro. This track is ALL Gilmour in the left speaker/ear! Whenever I've listened to this song, I love hearing David's "scat" playing opposite to Rick's keyboards. This version brings David's non-solo guitar parts to life!

There's that "playing in a tunnel" sound during David's solo as well as Dick Parry's sax solo. However, Dick's real moment is during "Us and Them". Back to the guitar solo: right at 4:00, the echo disappears and it's just "virgin sounds" from David's guitar. Also there's some interesting guitar work from 4:04 to 4:30. However, my favorite guitar lick from this track comes right at 5:16 to 5:23. It's that classic Gilmour-bluesy sound that would make Clapton jump out of his seat and play air-guitar. Again, it's not the complexity but the style in which he plays.

Another favorite part is the ending where we would usually hear the voices. Instead, we're treated to Gilmour singin' and scattin' his way into Rick's "Us and Them" intro. Here's an interesting bit for all you Floyd-heads: At 6:19, we hear Gilmour whisper "Yeah!" I always thought the "Yeah" was part of the "voices" that were added on later but apparently Alan Parsons was very clever to time the voices in with Gilmour's vocals. The end result on the 1973 album goes like this: "I certainly was in the right, that geezer was cruisin' for a bruisin'...Why does anyone do anything?...[Gilmour] Yeah…Why does anyone do anything?...I don't know, I was really drunk at the time."

TRACK 6: Us and Them
If there was a reason to fall in love with "Us and Them" all over again, it's the piano/bass/sax intro during the first 34 seconds of the song. I absolutely love it! Dick Parry's sax throughout this version is amazing! I enjoyed hearing the "Live at Pompeii" "doo-doo, doo-doo, doooo" between the words "Us" and "Them" I always wondered why it never made it to the final mix.

As for the repeated echo of the voices, it's interesting hearing them without the echo in the spots where they usually are. Also, there are parts where we're not used to hearing the echo and Parsons adds echo.

TRACK 7: Any Colour You Like
This is one of my all-time favorite Floyd songs. I pretty much had an "eargasm" after hearing this version. Listen closely to every note that Rick plays on your right speaker/in your right ear from 1:05 to 1:18. WOW! Also, David's "scat" vocals are clearer in this version. Happy times! I must add that I'm pretty pissed off that this song wasn't even mentioned during Classic Album's, "The Making of The Dark Side of The Moon" nor during the "2003 Documentary".

TRACK 8: Brain Damage
Not a whole lot different than the 1973 release, but one can enjoy the little differences: Rick's synthesizers at 0:07 and David's "country" guitar licks from 2:40 to 2:50. As for that crazy manic laughter: At first, I thought, "Clever!" Now, I'm not so keen on its overuse throughout the song. I prefer Peter Watts, thank you.

You can also hear the use of the "church bells" that were never heard before, except on the SACD version (using an SACD player of course) starting at 3:06.

TRACK 9: Eclipse
In the first few seconds, this track separates itself from any other version. Gilmour's guitar coming out on the right speaker/ear and throughout the entire track changes the entire feel. The backing vocals are clearer as well.

Lastly, if you listen closely, you can hear David clearly singing harmony starting at "All you create, all you destroy…" It becomes more apparent during, "All that you eat and everyone you meet…" and "eclipsed by the moon."

Overall, a thrilling glimpse at what might have been, but the thought that keeps on coming back to you is that they were absolutely correct in making the changes they did, and the resulting album which we all know and love, is the right version.


PRESENTATION (the packaging)
At the foot of this review, there's a video giving a full walk-through of the contents, but let's talk about it here too. The box is nicely designed, principally black with a fanned DSOTM prism. The rear is plain with a separate back sheet detailing the extensive contents. At around 11.5 inches square, it's just a bit smaller than a vinyl LP cover, but is almost 2 inches deep.

Ease off the heavy card lid, and under a foam insert, you'll start to find all the contents - marbles with their own pouch, a polybagged silk-style (viscose) scarf, nine coasters, an envelope with a nicely-reproduced ticket and backstage pass, and another envelope with a very good reproduction of a handwritten note from Roger talking about the questions posed in the studio (which has fooled a few people in thinking it was an original included in just a handful of sets!). There's also the 'Lichtenstein' DSOTM print, a 20 page book of Hipgnosis and Jill Furmanovsky's Floyd tour pics from 1972-74, a 36 page Storm Thorgerson designed book looking at various aspects of DSOTM, and finally, at the very back, all six discs, two of which are in card sleeves, the other four mounted to the back of the box.

Phew! Quite a collection of objects, even if some might seem a bit esoteric. Nobody can say, though, that thought hasn't been put into the overall package - it's not just a collection of discs in a bland case or box. The sturdy box feels just right for the cost, and the range of contents.


CONCLUSION:
This set completely confounded our expectations, and will continue to give us many happy hours of listening over the coming years. The quality of the presentation, and the extent of the material on it, has astonished and delighted us, and we think it an essential for Floyd fans. Whilst it is not cheap, it will repay you with the sheer variety of music included. With Immersion sets on their way for Wish You Were Here, and The Wall (and hints from Nick Mason of other sets under consideration) it's a great time to be a Floyd fan!

To help you with ordering the set, we've gathered together various major online retailer links. Purchasing through the links on our site will give much appreciated assistance towards things like our hosting fees, without costing you any extra on your order.

Order from:    Amazon UK    Amazon.com (US)   
Amazon Canada   
  Play.com HMV.com Amazon Germany
  Amazon Spain (ES) Amazon France Amazon Italy

UPDATE: There have been reports that the Blu-ray disc, over time, has developed faults for some people. The people behind the creation of these discs are surprised by this, but are investigating to see if they can determine what is happening for some people - is it a software issue? A hardware issue (specific players affected)? Anyone with a faulty disc can email  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  with the subject header of "Pink Floyd Immersion Box Dark Side Faulty Blu-ray".

In your email, please describe the problem: when did the disc stop playing, what brand of Blu-ray player do you use, what is the error message, etc..

FURTHER UPDATE: Following on from the above, the manufacturer has accepted that there was a faulty batch and are in the process of replacing them. Anyone with a faulty disc should email the manufacture at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and they will receive instructions on how to return the disc for replacement.

 
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