Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Best Album Covers: The Dark Side of the Moon


This is the next entry in Best Album Covers, a series begun right here. The first successful long-playing microgroove record for the phonograph was introduced by Columbia Records back in June of 1948. Yet, album covers (the paper board packaging that held them) didn’t come into their own graphically till decades later. Eventually becoming the cultural stamp on the music of the time. Catching the eyes of potential record-buyers and later their ears and minds. Melding the musical experience with the artist into a unique visual form.

Why Compact Disc versions of album art don’t exactly raise the same reaction these days was looked at in this post. Although, music label artistry continues to be noticed and discussed among the material published today. The bits and bytes are looking over their shoulder, though, because vinyl hasn’t entirely gone the way of the dinosaur. Online or at the record shops still out there. Cover art hasn’t lost purpose, either for old and new. Mostly, it’s my contention while digital reigns supreme, its vigor among fans lacks the tactile passion of the past LPs.

Hence the reason for this series. Some register more with me musically than others, though. Yet, the artwork will always take center stage, at least here. Let’s continue shall we?


Since this series has sat awhile, languishing I lament, might as well return to it with an album cover that tops so many ‘Best of’ lists. The Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd. Allmusic covered what made this striking gatefold LP sleeve, sublimely designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, better than most, musically:

“…what gives the album true power is the subtly textured music, which evolves from ponderous, neo-psychedelic art rock to jazz fusion and blues-rock before turning back to psychedelia. It’s dense with detail, but leisurely paced, creating its own dark, haunting world. Pink Floyd may have better albums than Dark Side of the Moon, but no other record defines them quite as well as this one.”

It’s interesting to note indigo, normally part of the traditional division in the light spectrum, was missing from the delineated colors the designers had coming out of the cover’s prism.

Rick Wright suggested we do something clean and graphic,” designer Storm Thorgerson told Floyd biographer Mark Blake. “Not photographic.” Accomplished that for sure by using the very darkest color as a statement. Certainly, done to startling effect while paired with a refracting geometric prism to set it all off.

It was black and white, but a color beam was going through it. Using that as a jumping off point, the team at Hipgnosis created the iconic cover”, as Rolling Stone would put it. I can’t say it’s my greatest LP cover ever, but the cover’s influence on other album art, especially in the use of black as a means to focus your attention, remains more than weighty — for over four decades now.


Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: The Dark Side of the Moon
Date: 1973
Label: Harvest
Track Listing (and yes, turn that record over):

Side one

  1. “Speak to Me”
  2. “Breathe”
  3. “On the Run”
  4. “Time”
  5. “The Great Gig in the Sky”

Side two

  1. “Money”
  2. “Us and Them”
  3. “Any Colour You Like”
  4. “Brain Damage”
  5. “Eclipse”

The entire series can be found here.

23 Responses to “Best Album Covers: The Dark Side of the Moon”

  1. jackdeth72

    Hi, Michael:

    One of those rare, wonderful albums where each cut is memorable. Holds its own. And is often better than the last.

    Oh, great minimalistic album cover too. There’s a reason why its the most popular collection of songs. Vinyl or disc!

    I always liked ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, ‘Dain Bramage’ and ‘Eclipse’ for its background vocals and laughs.


    • le0pard13

      I remember that post, Ruth. This cover has proved to be so influential. Thank you very much for the comment and the post linkage, my friend. Much obliged :-).


  2. Morgan R. Lewis

    I have mixed views about Pink Floyd’s music — some of it I like, but some of it’s just ephemeral fluff. But that’s certainly one of the greatest album covers. Iconic.

    The absence of indigo in the spectrum isn’t all that surprising. Indigo is a relatively “new” addition to the standard rainbow, newer even in recognition than orange (which pre-New World was referred to as “yellow-red”; the color is named for the fruit, not the other way around as many people think.) Of course, “new” in this case means 1600s, which should have granted it some traction, but there’s an oddity about indigo. About 50% of people are indigo-blind, seeing it as a form of blue or violet rather than a separate entity. Hence there’s been a constant debate as to whether it counts or not.


  3. filmplicity

    Not a fan of this album but the cover art is class. I’d say Pink Floyd are one of the few bands whose cover art I like as much as their music. That pic of the guy swimming in sand from Wish you were here is a classic. The Echoes picture book is a feast for the eyes too.


    • le0pard13

      It’s quite an album cover. And that certainly was wild one for ‘Wish You Were Here’. I’ll have to check out The Echoes now that you’ve mentioned it. Many thanks, Ronan.



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