Move over, Taylor Swift — Roger Waters has re-recorded the most famous albums he made with Pink Floyd in the ’70s to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The project, titled “The Dark Side of the Moon Redux,” will be released on October 6. The album’s first single, “Money,” a 1973 novelty single that was the band’s biggest hit, was released today as an audio track and lyric video.
Any similarities to Swift’s re-recordings end with the basic concept, with Water saying he’s not meant for the new version to replace the old version, but to complement it as a more mature version of the material.
As for the big question of who will replace his estranged former partner David Gilmour, on vocal and lead guitar, the seven-and-a-half-minute “Money” seems to answer that at least in part. After taking over Gilmour’s role on the microphone in the song, Waters “sings” the song in a whisper spoken voice, and the guitar solo is replaced by what appears to be a new long poem set in a metaphorical boxing ring. The melody has been significantly altered in other ways; It’s more blues and less rocking, with no cash registers, random voices, or other sound effects. Some of the early listeners who heard of it after it came out in the wee hours compared it to a recitative by Leonard Cohen.
Another hint of what the new releases might find was found in an 11-second instrumental clip of “Breathe” Waters posted as a hint of things to come on Wednesday, which in its brevity was more similar to the well-known version than to the new “Money.” Then, to coincide with the album’s official announcement, Waters released a YouTube interview in which he talks about the concept and has some revamped music playing in the background.
In the video interview, Waters cites the 50th anniversary of “Dark Side” as an opportunity to do a “re-imagining” and “a way to celebrate the 50 years since the original recorded version of that work has survived, by making a different version of it. Not to supersede or replace it, but to remember it and as an adjunct to it, and to advance the original concept work of the original recording, all those original songs.”
“I love the original recording, by the way, and I love what Nicky (Mason) did and what Rick (Wright) did and what Dave did on the original recording,” he continues. “The new recording is more reflective, I think, and more indicative of the concept of the record. It’s a reinterpretation and I hope we can get more out of it than we did in 1973 when it first came out, because it’s been a part of our lives for 50 years, and yet we still don’t breathe air yet. Breathe. Breathe in air.”
The CD will follow the album’s original 10-song sequence. So does the double-LP, but this version will have a bonus track on side 4, “an additional 13-minute original composition inspired by the re-recording as the final track.” It is labeled, at least for the time being, simply as the “Original Composition”.
The album was produced by Gus Seyffert with Waters, and the lineup of musicians will be familiar from his touring band, including Seyffert on bass and other instruments, Joey Waronker on drums, Jonathan Wilson on guitar, Johnny Shepherd on keyboards, Via Mardot on theremin, Azniv Korkejian on vocals, No lapel, and key arrangements on vocals.
Until recently, Waters remained with Sony Music, but it appears that relationship has finally come to an end after decades. The announcement stated that the album would be on an independent label, SGB Music, with Cooking Vinyl distributing.
Waters’ previous project, the “Closing Sessions” EP, also consisted of re-recorded material – mostly from “The Wall” and “The Final Cut” and was released on Sony Legacy in December. These two projects are rare additions to a solo Waters act that has been as inactive on the recording front as it has been as prolific as touring. Since 1992’s Amused to Death, he has released only one traditional album of new studio material, Is This the Life We Really Want? In 2018, he also released his version of Igor Stravinsky’s novel ‘The Soldier’s Tale’.
The new “Dark Side” arrives timely in some ways, given the 50th anniversary, and inappropriate in others, considering how polarizing Watters’ character has been in the past few years, due to his staunch support of the Palestinians and his outspokenness against Israel. He has also drawn criticism for his support of Russia’s rationale for starting the war in Ukraine and its preference for China’s position in Hong Kong, as well as his traditional complaints about US leadership.
Some fans also felt caught in the middle in the bumps, and Waters and Gilmore occasionally tossed at each other during their long estrangement, which recently resulted in Gilmore’s wife Polly Samson calling Waters an anti-Semite and a lip-syncher, and Gilmore signaling his approval. Waters responded by saying he was looking into legal action, but that possibility never came to public attention again. These exchanges occurred prior to Waters’ recent hot water, as several German cities attempted to stop his tour there on the grounds of what they believed were anti-Semitic remarks and/or fake Nazi imagery in Waters’ recreation of “The Wall”.
On tour, Waters gives a very faithful recreation of the wealth of Floyd’s material performed every night, with the band members doing recreations of Gilmour’s parts, so these new rearranged studio releases mark a break in the Floyd co-founder’s usual approach to the old.
While Swift’s re-recordings have some similarities to the past, in terms of bands revisiting their catalogs to try to prove the value of the new masters, Floyd fans have been at a loss in their attempts to think of other instances in which rockers of Waters’ stature have been brave or foolish enough to undertake a full album remake that is actually looking to ditch familiar arrangements.
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