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The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary Box Set (Music Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Album
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A must-have anniversary box set from one of rock 'n roll's all time greatest groups that presents the remastered original studio version in multiple formats and adds a great live concert recording of the same playlist.

I have  owned this legendary recording in nearly every format since it was first released in March 1973: the original LP version, an audio cassette, a Mobile Fidelity remastered vinyl disc, a CD, and a hybrid SACD with two-channel and 5.1 surround sound options. In 2011, EMI released a box set with three CDs,  two DVDs, and one Blu-ray disc with a high-resolution (96kHz/24-bit) 5.1 surround mix. I passed on that set because I knew if I lived long enough with my hearing still intact Pink Floyd would release this 50th anniversary edition on its own label.

Background

David Gilmour (vocals, guitars, Synthi AKS), Nick Mason (drums, percussion, tape effects), Roger Waters (bass guitar, vocals, VCS 3, tape effects), and Richard Wright (organ, piano, electric piano, EMS VCS 3, Synthi AKS, vocals), collectively known as Pink Floyd, began working on their eighth studio album in 1972 with recording engineer Alan Parsons in the EMI studios.  Pink Floyd was also joined in the studio by Dick Parry (saxophone), Claire Torry (vocals) and back-up singers Doris Troy, Lesley Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John.  As striking as the music of The Dark Side of the Moon was, the wordless record cover with a prism spectrum against a black background, designed by the late Storm Thorgerson and drawn by George Hardie, stood out in its own right. This recording achieved multi-platinum status and these new 2023 remasterings by James Guthrie and Joel Plante received the hearty approval of surviving Pink Floyd members Gilmour, Mason, and Waters.

Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary Edition
Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary Edition

What’s in the Big Box?

This 13-pound (!) box  includes the following items:

  1. CD 1: The Dark Side of the Moon remastered original studio album in a gatefold sleeve with 12-page booklet.
  2. CD 2: The Dark Side of the Moon Live at the Wembley Empire Pool, London 1974 in a gatefold sleeve with 12-page booklet with cover design by Aubrey Powell and Peter Curzon. Original 1973 line drawn cover artwork by George Hardie
  3. LP 1: The Dark Side of the Moon remastered original studio album in a gatefold sleeve with original posters and stickers.
  4. LP 2: The Dark Side of the Moon Live at Wembley Empire Pool, London 1974 in a gatefold sleeve with 2 posters featuring designs by Ian Emes and Gerald Scarfe. Original 1973 line drawn cover artwork by George Hardie.
  5. Blu-ray 1: Original album 5.1 surround mix (96kHz/24-bit) and stereo mix (192kHz/24-bit); 5.1 surround mix (dts-HD MA 4) and stereo Mix (dts-HD MA).
  6. Blu-ray 2: Dolby Atmos Mix and high-resolution stereo mixes (192kHz/24-bit, dts-HD MA).
  7. DVD: Original album 5.1 surround mix (Dolby Digital @ 448 kbps and @640 kbps) and remastered stereo mix: (LPCM 48kHz/24-bit).
  8. 160-page Thames and Hudson hardback book containing black and white photographs from the 1973-74 UK and US tours taken by Peter Christopherson, Jill Fumanovsky, Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgeson.
  9. 76-page book of music scores of the original songs.
  10. Memorabilia: Replicas of two 7” singles (1)”Money/Any Colour You Like”; (2)”Us and Them/Time”. Replica of an EMI pamphlet and invitation to the preview of The Dark Side of the Moon at the London Planetarium on February 27, 1974.

The Playlist

  1. “Speak to Me”
  2. “Breathe” (In the Air)
  3. “On the Run”
  4. “Time”
  5. “The Great Gig in the Sky”
  6. “Money”
  7. “Us and Them”
  8. “Any Colour You Like”
  9. “Brain Damage”
  10. “Eclipse”

The Audio

I would recommend starting with the remastered LPs, followed by the CDs, the DVD (Audio-only) surround mixes, the first Blu-ray surround mix and cap things off with the Blu-ray Dolby Atmos mix. It will become obvious why the Atmos mix should be saved for last since its swirling sounds will transport listeners to another audio realm where they will encounter the overhead voices of “Breathe,” Claire Torry’s unearthly  wailing on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” the all-present clanking cash registers in “Money,” and Dick Parry’s seductive saxophone during “Us and Them.” The 1974 Wembley Empire Pool concert recording runs ten minutes longer than the studio version and recreates how the live audience energized Pink Floyd. If played at a high enough volume, this stereo disc gives the illusion of a multichannel recording. In comparing the remasters to the originals in my library detail after detail jumped out of the CD tracks and record grooves of the studio recording like I have never heard them before. Also, the bass lines were better fleshed out,  the vocals had greater presence and those muttered asides are now much clearer.

The Supplements

As noted in the box contents, there are enough “extras” to make nearly every Pink Floyd fan happy. What this set does not carry over from the 2011 so-called “immersion” box set are previously unreleased 1972 studio tracks, a 25-minute 2003 documentary film,  concert films from 1974 British and French Tours and the 1975 US Tour, several tracks from a 1972 Brighton concert and some demo material. Frankly, I did not miss these items although PF completists are welcome to disagree with me.

The Final Assessment

The 2020s have been a great decade for 50th anniversary sets but The Dark Side of the Moon box set goes well beyond any that I have seen or heard to date. With shipping, this tribute to one of the greatest rock groups of all time will set you back over $300.00 but, if you are even thinking about it, better buy this set now as I have seen secondary market prices already over $400.00 and they will continue to increase with time. Highest recommendation.


Pink Floyd — The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary is out now from Pink Floyd Records.

 


  • Label: Pink Floyd Records
  • Artist: Pink Floyd
  • Run Time: 626 Mins.
  • Street Date: 24 March 2023
  • Audio Format: Dolby Atmos | 5.1 surround (96kHz/24bit) DTS-HD MA, Dolby Digital @448kbps and 640 kpbs) | Stereo (192kHz/24-bit) DTS-HD MA, LPCM 48kHz/24b, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
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A must-have anniversary box set from one of rock 'n roll's all time greatest groups that presents the remastered original studio version in multiple formats and adds a great live concert recording of the same playlist. The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary Box Set (Music Review)