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Book Review: “Pink Floyd and The Dark Side of the Moon: 50 Years,” by Martin Popoff

“Dark Side of the Moon” was a game changer. The album was filled with lavishly produced stoner rock designed to be played on headphones in darkened/smoke permeated bedrooms decorated with parent offending black light posters. Alternately trippy and catchy, “Dark Side” became an everlasting AOR staple and yielded the Top Twenty single “Money, which was replete with quasi-heavy irony. The record’s ubiquitous inescapability resulted in a ridiculous decade and a half run on the “Billboard” album charts from 1973 to 1988. One could celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Dark Side” by doing a research paper on bongs or publishing a book in its honor. Rock NYC’s friends at the Quatro Publishing Group chose the second approach. Author Martin Popoff, who recently did a bang-up job on the “Bowie @ 75” tome is back in black, with a controversial side of rainbow, for “Pink Floyd and the Dark Side of the Moon: 50 Years.”

This is very much a book about the history of Pink Floyd as it is an examination of “Dark Side.” The band’s early roots, their psychedelic rock credentials, and the importance or early departee Syd Barrett are efficiently reported. One must appreciate Popoff’s unwillingness to play the shill, commenting, for instance that “Ummagumma” was comprised of “two fairly insufferable vinyl records.”

A book like this is designed for hardcore nerds, so there are chapters on studio equipment, sound effects, the spoken word passages, album design, etc. The actual blow by blow evaluations of each song lean toward technical performance descriptions and Popoff clearly admires the album much more than I do, but as much as he should for the target audience. I know very little more about the individual members of the band as people after reading the book than I did beforehand. The author treats Roger Waters somewhat with kid gloves, stating that his propensity for controversial statements and stances is basically part of his lifelong DNA. My personal impression is that starting with “Dark Side” Waters viewed the other members of Pink Floyd in the same way that John Fogerty viewed the other members of CCR, as unappreciative sidemen who only served to get in the way of his ideas.

A nice touch is that the book jacket has a black and white background to the naked eye, then adds rainbow colors when photographed. As I’ve mentioned on other Quatro Publishing coffee table like music books, the packaging is as important as the writing. Hardcore Pink Floyd fans will love the pictures and artwork. Even the simple existence of such a book will validate their opinions concerning the importance of Pink Floyd. Also, it’s being officially released on Valentine’s Day. What better gift for a Baby Boomer loved one could you get than this nostalgic look back on a bleak album that documented the-examined-life-isn’t-worth-living alongside mama, weer all craze now navel gazing? This should go down swimmingly with high blood pressure medicine.

Grade – B+

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