"Dark Side of the Moon was an expression of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out," Roger Waters says at the outset of this fascinating documentary chronicling the creation of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, an album that remained on the Billboard charts for an astounding 741 consecutive weeks. Waters should know, as the 1973 concept record so elegantly laced with universal and timeless themes of alienation, paranoia, madness and death was the first Floyd platter with lyrics penned entirely by Waters.
Brimming with great sound bites, this is among the more fascinating installments in the "Classic Albums" series, catching up with all four members of Pink Floyd, as well as original engineer Alan Parsons, album-cover artist Storm Thorgerson, and journalists David Fricke and Nigel Williamson (who argues that Dark Side ... represents the moment progressive rock "went mainstream").
In addition to taking a track-by-track look at (and listen to) the album's creation — including extensive footage dedicated to the band's seminal experimentation with loops, synths and other effects — the DVD also includes archival footage (live performances of "Set Your Controls For the Heart of the Sun" in 1968 and "Echoes" in 1971), plus acoustic versions of Waters performing "Brain Damage" and guitarist David Gilmour (still in fine voice) singing an unplugged version of "Breathe." Elsewhere, keyboard player Richard Wright takes viewers into the chord sequences for "The Great Gig in the Sky" and Parsons invites viewers into the control room to hear how "Us and Them" sounds without reverb and echo.
Drummer Nick Mason calls Dark Side … "the most focused moment in our career." The same can be said for the Classic Albums series, which has now raised the bar for this kind of documentary.