By Al Kaufman
To call Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon a rock and roll classic is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. One in 14 people under the age of 50 have owned a copy at one time. It remained on the Billboard top 200 for over 13 years.The album, which was heavily influenced by the mental illness of Floyd founding member, Syd Barrett, made use of the the newest technologies 1973 had to offer. The technologies were so good that the album still sounds innovative today. For many people, Dark Side of the Moon is the Citizen Kane of rock and roll.
For others, Flaming Lips are the Quentin Tarantinos of rock and roll. They are energetic and wildly inventive, but love to pay homage to those who came before them. But, hell, even Tarantino knows not to remake the Orson Wells masterpiece, so why would the Lips undertake this endeavor?
In a nutshell; because they can. This CD is going to easily break into two camps. Floyd fans are going to hate it, and Lips fans are going to love it. But if there is anyone out there who knows not of either Floyd or the Lips, that person would find plenty on this CD to keep him or herself enthralled. The rich, lush sounds of the original are replaced here by cacophony of sounds; everything from synths to saws, which add a whole other element of angst and paranoia into the mix. While the original album felt like a slow descent into madness, the new version seems to start and madness and then delves deeper. When it works, as it does on “Brain Damage,” the results are spine tingling, but as that mood gives way to the overblown guitars on “Eclipse,” one remembers that this is all really just an experiment, and not all experiments go exactly as planned.
While the Lips are to be commended for making this album their own, it is the times when they stay to close to the original that they really falter. The spoken word portions of the original were done when Roger Waters interviewed various friends of the band about a variety of topics; some inane, some provocative. Their answers were peppered throughout the album. Instead of doing their own version of this technique, the Lips simply used the same answers and had many of them read by the overly emotive Henry Rollins. And while electro-slut Peaches tries her best to duplicate the wails of Clare Torry on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” she comes up short.
Flaming Lips will not win over any Floyd fans with this CD, but they very well may open up some Lips fans to one of the best albums of all time, and when those people hear the original, they, too, may be disappointed. What the Flaming Lips have done is make another great Flaming Lips album. That it happens to be an album of Pink Floyd covers is incidental.