"Dark Side Of The Moon: The Making Of The Pink Floyd Masterpiece" - John Harris

Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon book - John Harris
John Harris - Dark Side Of The Moon
Artwork by Storm Thorgerson
Published by Da Capo Press (USA), October/November 2005

Dark Side Of The Moon: the one album above all that sums up, and represents, Pink Floyd, in the public's mind. The album that saw the culmination of a young band's dreams come to fruition. The album that also had the members growing up, becoming aware of the meaninglessness of money, war and suchlike, and looking at life, death and the bits in-between.

It is with this in mind (and to provide a handy, well-informed precis for the casual reader) that John Harris takes us through the history of the band. Kicking things off with the prologue, Harris has the band members (especially Roger Waters and David Gilmour) in reflective mood, back in 2003/2004.

This well-written, well-paced book features the whole story of the album, from the early days of the band, through to every aspect of the development of the music and recording, retold through the extensive interviews with all members of the band, together with other key individuals involved.

The book is bolstered with rare photographs; the US edition (Da Capo Press) is peppered throughout with unusual shots, many of which have come from Nick Mason's own archives. The UK edition, for some reason unknown to us, sadly features just a selection of these shots. The text is, however, identical across all editions.

The large number of obviously first-hand interviews, and the use of Nick's pictures, give an added edge to the book, distancing it from other books which can sometimes be simply rehashes of other published works.

Harris finds the musicians in candid mood, talking honestly about DSOTM's genesis and roots, and Harris, too, keeps a sense of perspective about the music.

He has clearly worked hard on each step they took to the finished piece - one particularly interesting sequence has Harris analysing, almost beat-by-beat, the stumbling attempt at a public debut of the piece in Brighton, England, in January 1972. This aborted performance gave an absorbing vision of the work at that time - with some songs a world apart from the final, recorded versions, some 14 months later.

He has also garnered, in his research, an incredible amount of detail on the recording sessions - more than we've seen published anywhere else - and this segment of the book is a captivating look at the reality of these sessions, how each track developed, and the band's style of working.

For those who think a book focusing on a single album is a narrow topic, think again. Harris has brought the creation (from the band's earliest days, right through to the recording sessions themselves) into sharp, lively focus. It is an absorbing and well-constructed look at a classic album, with refreshingly honest views from all the main protagonists.

With enough new material and information to satisfy even the most knowledgeable Floyd head, the drawback (other than the fewer pictures in the UK edition) is that it leaves you wishing for other albums to be covered in similar depth. How about it, John?

The publishers have set up a special website - www.darksideofthemoonbook.com - which is definitely worth a visit. Alongside information about the book and the author, there is a ten picture photo gallery which includes four from Nick's archives (such as Earls Court 1973 and Syd Barrett, late 1967), and four from Jill Furmanovsky's archives (such as Brighton 1972, on stage). There is also an excerpt from the book - the prologue.

Orders for this book can be placed through these special links: Amazon.com (US/International), Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, France and Germany.