Dark Side of the Moon A Capella – Vocomotion
This has been a crazy time for the bands that no longer exist. Led Zeppelin — 25 years deceased this past December — was on a recent cover of the influential British music magazine, MOJO, with the header: Most Important Band In The WorldToday! Waitdid someone say Derek and the Fucking Dominoes with Slowhand and Trucks? A brief reunion of all four members of a certain Vermont jamband on Trey Anastasios solo tourin the span of two gigs, three months agobrought a Def Con 5 meltdown on the net still lingering in the vast regions of Phish Nation. The classic Genesis lineup that included Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett have been rumored to be considering a return to the stage in 2006— an event only a fraction less momentous than a potential Phish ricorso in the grand scheme of What If We Do IT Just One More Time.
And then we have the intergalactic legacy of the mighty Le Floydian Pinkies. Lets be absolutely honest here. The super acid group has never really gone away, have they? Apparently, according to a check of the infamous Billboard charts, the Brothers Floyd have had an album in the Top 200 for 337 out of the last 350 years. This phenomenon dates back to early colonial daysor something like that. I kid, of course, in a Bob Dylan 136 protest singers142 sort of way. The figure is closer to 322 years. I think.
Dark Side of the Moon began this epic trend of the Floyd chart domination back in 1973. And that stranglehold over what is now four generations of listeners is quite profound when one considers that this was THE most avant-garde, anti-commercial band back in their psychedelic heyday. When they werent accidentally killing (ph)fish (11/2/98?!) in a pond in front of a stage in England with huge inflatable sea creatures, they were playing long two-song gigs with men dressed in gorilla outfits running through the crowd. What did it all mean? It didnt mean a damn thing and that was reflected in their heavy hip factor among the early long hairs. However, none of these eccentricities translated well to record sales and thats why DSOTM is such a transcendent piece of work that has stood the test of time. This album was a work of art created by four talented cats that had no clue how to reach a mass audience. But, fuck me, they knew how to experiment and clarify their vision after seven years of crazy knob-twisting and lyrical digressions. Bass guitarist, co-lead singer, lyricist and chief philosophical taxi driver, Roger Waters, hit upon the idea that the world needed words about the human condition. The key, indeed.
My sister-in-law came towards me with a holiday gift and a smirk. Im not a big fan of artists covering other peoples work unless your name is Dylan, Garcia, Weir or JEMP. Im also not a big fan of someone covering Pink Floyd. And to be handed an all a cappella version of Dark Side of the Moon by a bunch of unknown vocalists and guest speakers sounded cheeseball at best and unlistenable at worst — Bobby McFerrin on ludes, man. How can this possibly compare with the original?
I knew this was just for you, she said and I thanked her and put the thing on. Hmmmnot bad. Not bad, at all. Most impressive. Wellthe smirk was well justified.
The caveat emptor on the back cover reads: All sounds created by the human voice. No instruments or drums were used in this sound recording. This album is Wizard of Oz compatible. [Authors note: yes, Ive done the old Pink Floyd Dark Side/Oz syncho/covergio and it noodle-tripped us before I passed outyes, we had some liquid and green refreshments to help the process.] Anyway, when seeing the all sounds created by the human voice alleged cup coaster/disc, my wife said, Uh oh. Its going to sound like that guy from the Police Academy movies.
Alas, no. Somehow this gaggle of voices makes it all work without a hint of cheese or cringe. A good pair of headphones, as they do with the 73 work, helps quite a bit. What is perhaps most noteworthy is that the voices chiming in from ten different directions with superhuman rainbow colors make one appreciate the musicality of the thang again. This work was rooted in lyrical thematic passages centered upon the human condition. Work, time, relationships, paranoia, sanity, currency and the inner space of Here Comes Everymodernman filled the platter overflowing with amazing sound effects. Somehow, the voices on this new machineless recording conjure up the odd Moon cataclysm without much missed or abandoned. The real test for my jaded ears came in the swirling colors of On the Run, the comical handling of the clocks during the opening of Time, the sublime reading of The Great Gig in the Sky, and the twin masterpiece segment scored with taste, humor and pathos — Us and Them > Any Colour You Like. Brain Damage > Eclipse follows as it does on the original with goosebumps and glory and pomp and circumstance as the whole legion of voices roar towards a tumbling, rollicking conclusion. This is where the payoff comes: a lone voice that sounds exactly like David Gilmour opens Eclipse — a note of genius considering that this twisting splash in the Waters of the Floyd version sounds fantastic when it eventually joins the final chorus which lands one back on earth.
To return again? Yes, Virginia, there is no dark side to the slab resting on the moon.