Pink Floyd-The Dark Side of the Moon (Classic Albums) (2003)

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Released 5-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Booklet
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Bonus interview material
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 49:01 (Case: 84)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Matthew Longfellow
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Roger Waters
David Gilmour
Nick Mason
Rick Wright
Alan Parsons
Case 6 Clip and Ring
RPI $26.95 Music Pink Floyd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
Spanish
Italian
Dutch
French
Portuguese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "Dark Side Of The Moon was an expression of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out....
It is driven by emotion; there is nothing plastic or contrived about it, and I think that's one of the things that has given it its longevity."
- Roger Waters

"There is no dark side of the moon, really - matter of fact, it's all dark.... The only thing that makes it look light is the sun."
- Gerry O'Driscoll (the Irish doorman at Abbey Road studios, interviewed for the "Dark Side Of The Moon" sessions)

    What is it about this album that makes it a "classic" rock album, and beyond the scope of just rock music, one of the most important artistic statements of modern times? Why has this album endured so well over the last 30+ years and why does it continue to endure? Why did it and why does it continue to speak to music audiences across generations and geographies? Why is it both the most successful charting record of all time in the US - a fact - and also, when looked at objectively and irrespective of your own personal rock music tastes, the most logical nomination for the accolade of "the most successful/influential rock music album of all time"?........ But above all, what is the album actually saying? What is "The Dark Side Of The Moon" a metaphor for? and what is the concept and the individual songs themselves all about? Further, how do musicians and critics analyse both the music and its impact?..... Well, this documentary from the TV series Classic Albums, as screened on SBS TV, aims to answer all of these important questions. It sheds much light on what went into and what is behind "The Dark Side Of The Moon".

    ... From the moment that the "Classic Albums" TV series concept was first conceived, there could be little doubt in anyone's mind that this particular rock album, of all of rock's "classic" albums, would have to demand being featured in this series. The resultant documentary and background material as presented here in full on this DVD should be enough to make any rock music fan - let alone just Pink Floyd fans - lick their lips with anticipation; a chance to explain and put into context "The Dark Side Of The Moon".

    "Dark Side" was recorded in Abbey Road Studios London in sessions between June 1972 and January 1973. To put this particular time and place into context, at the time the finishing touches were being put to the mixes in January 1973, Paul McCartney and Wings were bunkered in the very next studio at Abbey Road recording their next album - and so would unwittingly find themselves contributing in small part to this classic rock album, and director Adrien Maben was quietly and prophetically filming the Floyd as they went about their work recording and mixing - not because Adrien Maben knew or even suspected that what he was capturing on film was rock music history in the making - he didn't, he was simply (and in hindsight, this was just an amazing but thankful coincidence) filming extra footage to fill in his 1971/72 concert film Pink Floyd: Live At Pompeii.

    And what a magical period in Floyd's history this winter of 1972/73 would turn out to be. It captured a period when all four band members were finally coming to the grips with taking the reigns on a new musical direction following the sad departure of front man Syd Barrett; a period when Roger Waters would confidently step forward to fill the songwriting void and spearhead the band's artistic direction (a transition from writing pop songs to writing material with "something to say"). Yet it wasn't just Roger's heartfelt and extremely direct emotional sentiments that made this album the classic album it became (although this was a large part of it), for this winter of 1972/73 was also a period when the relationship between the four band members was at its most harmonious and the creative juices from all sides were flowing, so that the vehicle to carry Roger's compelling humanitarian sentiments would be the music created by the collective and unified input from all four equals in the band.  This was a period when all four band members were working towards their common goal, harmoniously unified in their artistic expression. That common goal was simply, as Roger wryly puts it, "to become rich and successful". And they would succeed once the fruits of this winter's work was released. "Dark Side" would become the magnum opus that would forever change the lives of the band members and propel them into a completely new world of fame, recognition and accomplishment. This change would of course go on to influence both the relationships and the subject matter of all the material to follow. And in a wider context, it would also forever change the history of rock music in so many ways, birthing the modern "concept album", showcasing a new era of instrumental and studio experimentation in rock music albums, and previewing rather complex and tediously manual techniques that would later become automated by machines and recognised as "music sampling".

    This documentary is very well put together. It features newly recorded interviews with all four band members, plus engineer Alan Parsons and mixing supervisor Chris Thomas. As with the previous episodes of this "Classic Album" series, this documentary also gives a detailed analysis of  individual songs on the album, the recording process and, most fascinating, the opportunity to hear reconstructions from the master 24-track recordings. It also explains in simple language what the "Dark Side" concept is saying and offers an analysis from rock journalists as to how/why the songs gel so well together to tell the concept story. It also explains aspects such as what the album cover is about and how it came to pass, and other fascinating trivia surrounding the album's recording.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is of high quality, being a modern production, well-shot and well transferred to DVD.

    The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, as originally shot and presented on TV.

    The image quality of the newly recorded interview footage - the majority of the documentary - is quite sharp. The footage consists of simple locked-camera shoots in various recording studios (the band members' in-home studios?), and is all appropriately lit and recorded on what would appear to be modern DV-cam, so it is pretty hard to go wrong with image quality here. Shadow detail - what little of it is required - is sufficient and there is no low level noise. This interview footage is interspersed with various pieces of archival footage, including original 1973 footage of the band recording "Dark Side" in Abbey Road (taken from Live At Pompeii), some live concert footage of the Floyd dating back to 1968, several photographs of the band over these years, and some fascinating excerpts from promotional music videos for several of the "Dark Side" tracks. The quality of this archival footage is of course of lower standard than the newly recorded interview material, with the old promotional video clips in particular quite grainy, but all of it is still eminently acceptable and watchable given their rarity value and insight.    

    Colour cannot be faulted, with nice saturation, accurate skin tones and solid black levels.

    MPEG artefacts are restricted to some minor pixelization noted in some backgrounds. Film-to-video artefacts are restricted to some minor aliasing in the fine lines of some photos and the old Abbey Roads studio footage, but it is quite infrequent. There are no film/source artefacts noted in the main interview material - they exist, of course, in the archival footage.

    Several subtitle languages are provided, however, surprisingly, English isn't one of them.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As with the video transfer, the audio transfer is of high quality.

    The only audio track provided is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack (at 224 Kb/s).    

    Dialogue quality is very clear and distinct throughout, with no audio sync problems.

    The audio transfer also delivers with the music, which is of course predominantly the music from "Dark Side" itself, along with some other Floyd recordings. All music has been taken from cleaned, re-mastered sources and delivered with amazing clarity, as if it had been recorded only yesterday. Audio transfer quality is high across the music range, delivering from faithful bass to clean midrange to tight percussion.

    The audio track includes some surround information for the music, and this works well to draw out the soundstage during these sections. For the rest of the feature, when interviewees are talking, the rears fall silent as would be expected.

    There is nothing for the subwoofer to do for the majority of the documentary, when interviewees are talking, but it does assist with the music, and most effectively for the "Dark Side" heart-beat.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   

Menu

     Both the menus and the extra are presented in the commensurate aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The menus are animated, well themed and easily navigable.   

Bonus Material (total 35:52)

    Divided into 12 chapters and with a "play all" option, the bonus materials covers additional interview footage and impromptu solo performances of various "Dark Side" songs and licks from the band members. This extra is the cream for Pink Floyd fans, as it provides the chance to see/hear much of the originally-seen interview footage and the impromptu solo performances as used in the 50-minute edited documentary, but here in uncut form and in a more full context. Further, there is quite a bit of information and topics discussed in this extras material that didn't make the 50-minute cut at all. The additional material and input provided by all band members here is highly enlightening and, as with the documentary proper, all four are completely open and honest in their responses. It is interesting to note that in all of the interview footage, both the edited documentary and this extra footage, you cannot hear any interviewer asking questions or even prompting the interviewees for a response; it is as if the time had finally come for each band member to feel completely comfortable with opening up and offloading their experiences free of prompting for this documentary. There has obviously been a lot of water under the bridge for these four guys, but it seems the time for acrimony and past recriminations and accusations has finally past, and it is particularly heart-warming to see each band member give full praise and credit to each of the other's input for this album - as of course it should be. All interviews are fascinating, but the David Gilmour material in particular is noteworthy for how generous he is with his time, recreating with absolute precision and passion so many of those most famous "Dark Side" guitar riffs and effects.

    A great extra, with the same high quality video and audio as per the main feature.

Booklet

    I was always confused as to what constitutes a "booklet", exactly. How many pages does it have to be to be a "booklet", rather than a "leaflet" or "fold-out page". Does only a 4-page fold-out sheet of paper count as a "booklet"?... Well, probably so here, and in any event deserves mention for its colourful pictures and useful purpose in showing all the "Dark Side" album artwork - both the original 1973 artwork and the artwork to adorn subsequent album/CD pressings. Plus this booklet also contains all the original album production credits, which is quite handy if you want to refer to them during the documentary to refresh your memory of who contributed in what capacity to the production of this musical masterpiece.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   This title is released in both Regions 2 and 1 in identical format to our Region 4 release.

Summary

    "Dark Side Of The Moon" is undoubtedly a "classic album" of rock and worthy of featuring in this great TV documentary series. The album's influence on rock music - and moreover, popular music culture and recording techniques in general - is undoubted. I doubt there will ever be another collection of rock music as important or influential as this one. Certainly, one would have to assume there could not be another in the future to stand the test of time and speak to multiple generations as well as this album has - I certainly doubt there could ever be another music album in the future to rival charting consecutively for 14 years in the world's largest music market.

     This documentary is a must have in the DVD collection for anyone with a serious appreciation of rock music, and should appeal to a wider audience of anyone who has ever been touched by this important musical and artistic achievement. Video and audio quality are first rate, as expected, and the extras provide further in-depth understanding over and above the feature alone.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
PAL speed-up? - Paul REPLY POSTED
Should all PAL music DVDs be avoided ? - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio) REPLY POSTED
PAL speed-up - Paul REPLY POSTED