Roger Waters’ revival of Pink Floyd’s classic album is a mess
I’m kicking this off by declaring I had a Pink Floyd phase, and The Dark Side of the Moon was my most cherished album at one point. So when it came to my attention that Roger Waters, a singer of Pink Floyd, was re-recording and remixing the album, titling it The Dark Side of the Moon Redux, I had mixed sentiments. I assume Waters must have crafted this passion project to celebrate the original album’s 50th anniversary. Still, with that being said, this redux should’ve never seen the light of day (or darkness of the moon) because it’s the most unnecessary album ever created. The Dark Side of the Moon is a classic that has not aged since its release in 1973. This is no different from giving a perfect standalone movie an unnecessary sequel. But I gave this record the benefit of the doubt; maybe Waters would win me over. After hearing the first single, any hope I had instantly ceased to exist.
This new album follows the same tracklist as the original, with only minute changes to two titles. This new record opens with “Speak to Me.” Here, the listener is presented with a drawn-out, bland, and generic monologue about life and death. What made the original “Speak to Me” so special was its instrumental snippets of nearly every song on the album, previewing what was to come. In comparison, this new album just contains an intro track that overstays its welcome. This song rolls into “Breathe,” the only track I thought was decent, and the only track in which Waters’ voice actually sounds like he is making an effort. The next track, “On the Run,” has another monologue of no clear structure over bursts of the keyboard effect used in the original “On the Run.” Rather than trying to pay homage, it just comes off as a pernicious copy of the original instrumental.
Next in the tracklist is “Time,” one of the fan favorites in the original album. The mix of instrumentals, the extended intro, and the beginning orchestra of old alarm clocks going off made that song highly memorable. This new version of “Time” contains a very minimalistic instrumentals, turning it into a dull cover of the original. Preceding is “Great Gig in the Sky,” where if you know the original song, you are just as morbidly curious as I was. The original song contains an uncredited woman singing incomprehensible sounds. Here, we are presented with a very autotuned and watered-down humming produced by Waters that lasts only two minutes. I don’t think this song is a trainwreck, but when it gets compared to the original track, it just makes the listener wince.
Afterward comes “Money,” my favorite from the original album, and the first single I heard for this redux. What made the original version great was its blend of fast rock and the mix of the cash register sounds. In this new “Money,” we are given a very moody, bluesy, jazzy, hard-to-stomach version of the original. This is also one of many tracks on this new record that goes over seven minutes. Personally, I cannot see any listener pursuing one of these songs and listening to it in its entirety. I believe Waters’ voice on this track is the main problem. On this track, it sounds as grainy as a fifty-year-old vinyl record. He leans heavily into the coarseness of his voice, sounding a bit like Tom Waits. Now, I may be being a little too cynical here—Waters could just be sounding this way from old age. But if that were the case, why does he sing so much better in the tracks prior? If we’re breaking it down, “Breathe,” for example, is much more difficult to sing than “Money,” where he actually sounds suitable for his age.
Next comes “Us and Them,” the smooth jazz break on the initial album. In the new album, though, it lacks any of the colorful jazz the original track consisted of. Waters’ voice is as flat as paper on this track. The new “Us and Them” contains a repeating and fading effect in the verses as the original did, but it sounds like a sound effect that was given for free in GarageBand. The chorus does sound fairly identical to the original, with several keyboard tones that match perfectly to the original tone. There are also some bright guitar plucks scattered towards the end, which I did find enjoyable, but they were not enough for me to relisten. “Us and Them” then transitions into “Any Colour You Like,” but rather than the colorful, hypnotic, art pop of the original song, here, you just have a very forgettable song. The track features Waters talking over a heavy bass-reliant track, using short bursts of the keyboard effect from the original song. Afterward comes many fans' favorite song on the album, “Brain Damage,” but this new track gave us a washed-down version of the original that lacks any of its morbid charms. This is the only song on the album where Waters kept all the original lyrics without adding any more, but it is worth noting that he removed the lunatic’s laugh that was in the original song. “Eclipse” is the last song in the tracklist, which “Brain Damage” plays into. What was an epic conclusion on the original album is ruined by a very dreamy and airy-sounding track that lacks any of the compellingness the original song contained. The album suddenly ends without any build-up, and it is over.
It is worth noting that I went into this record with an open mind. A lot can happen to someone’s creativity over fifty years, but this sounds like an effortless cash grab on Waters’ part with Pink Floyd being over. It is hard not to compare this redux to the original Dark Side of the Moon when it has a big name and influence on rock music. If you go into this album expecting this to be like a “Dark Side of the Moon 2” or a re-recording of the original album, you will be severely crestfallen. If this was marketed as some kind of jazzy revision of the album, maybe it would have been received better. To summarize this album in a sentence, it is a passion project without the passion.