Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" on SACD

PINK FLOYD The Dark Side of the Moon Capitol Music SACD Look at the redesigned cover: the original art is now enshrined in a stained-glass window. It's a beautiful transformation-as well as a perfect metaphor for the six-channel mix inside. For some listeners, this may mean that the mix is overly respectful. For others, it may mean the mix is appropriately reverent while still providing a robust surround experience.

For me . . . James Guthrie has done a marvelous job of taking the church of The Dark Side of the Moon and transforming it into a cathedral. He begins with some surround-by-stealth in "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" before pulling you into the drifting (but not dizzying) movements of "On the Run." He envelops you in the big choruses of "Us and Them" and "Brain Damage" but still shows you newly identifiable layers of sound. And then there are the exquisite details: the scraping guitar in the middle solo of "Money," the tactile clocks of "Time."

That said, the SACD falls short of five stars for two reasons. First, no matter how faithful the mix is or isn't, I still think the use of the center channel is too subtle. The one time it's used prominently, for the breathy sax of "Us and Them," gives me a chill that I wish I could get again and again. Second, though the new cover is splendid, the 18-page booklet is disappointing. Yes, the lyrics are here, but there are no new essays or liner notes. Instead, you mostly get images of Dark Side paraphernalia. Do we really need a 1-inch-square photo of a Pink Floyd "Millennium Series T-shirt, 1999"?

If you don't own an SACD player, this hybrid disc will let you hear the stereo mix on your CD player. My advice: buy an SACD player! Think of the surround mix any way you like. This reissue still eclipses every Moon that came before.

MORE
Tales from the Dark Side James Guthrie talks about his great gig in the studio remiixing Pink Floyd's classic in surround Another Phase of the Moon Original engineer Alan Parsons explains why the SACD mix doesn't speak to him
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