ORLANDO – In some people’s minds, they probably seem distinctly connected with the 1970s, but George Weremchuk says Pink Floyd also happens to be one of those rock bands that continuously gets rediscovered with each new generation of rock fans.
He should know: Weremchuk teaches a class called The History of Rock & Roll at the University of Central Florida, and said his 20-something students are all familiar with the progressive and phychedelic rock band from the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps best known for their 1979 hit song “Another Brick in The Wall.”
“I’m surprised and continuously amazed when we do Pink Floyd, how many of these younger students are familiar with this band,” Weremchuk said. “They weren’t even born yet and they’re familiar with the band.”
One reason Pink Floyd continues to appeal to music fans, regardless of age, is the long-standing popularity of their best known album, “Dark Side of the Moon.” The band’s eighth studio LP, it was first released in March 1973 and remained on the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 until 1988. It also produced the hit single “Money” and sold more than 45 million copies.
Anyone unfamiliar with the album has an opportunity to not only discover it, but hear it performed on stage this month. Hard Rock Live at Universal Orlando will perform “Dark Side of the Moon” on Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m. as part of its Classic Albums Live series.
Weremchuk says he understands why this LP continues to be considered a masterpiece of modern rock music.
“I think it still holds up real well,” Weremchuk said. “It’s one of the highest grossing albums of all time. It ranks in the Top 5, behind (Michael Jackon’s album) ‘Thriller.’ It kind of brought Pink Floyd more into the mainstream because prior to that, their albums — while very good – were made up of songs that tended to be really long, and this is the first time they made their mark on the U.S. radio market. The songs are of a length that can be played on the radio, as opposed to their previous albums.”
“Money” was released as a single in May 1973, and reached #13 on the pop Billboard charts.
“Obviously everyone knows ‘Money,’ but the other songs on there are even better tunes,” Weremchuk said. “I think the songs were more accessible in terms of length, so they started to get more airplay. And with this album they became better songwriters and were able to distill ideas into a managable five, six or seven minute song. Plus they were known for their live shows.”
That’s one of the Pink Floyd legacies that Hard Rock Live is likely to capitalize on during the show, which will recreate what it calls “Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide, performed note for note, cut for cut.”
Founded in 1965, Pink Floyd played in London’s underground music scene until the release of their first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” in 1967. They went on to become phenomenally successful in the 1970s with albums like “Wish You Were Here,” “The Wall,” and, of course, “Dark Side.”
“They were one of the first psychedelic bands in the London scene,” Weremchuk said. “They were always known for combining music with multimedia light shows and projections of images. They were from the mid-1960s, and the 1970s was the beginning of bands playing in huge arenas.”
Their stage shows built up their popularity, he said, but their legendary status got cemented when “Dark Side” moved them from more experimental earlier albums into the mainstream.
“With this album, when I was listening to it again, one song kind of leads into the next,” Weremchuk said. “There’s a term, ‘concept album,’ and to some extent this can be considered one of them. If you listen to one song, it starts off slowly and builds, and there’s a direction there where you can listen to the album as a whole and see there’s a beginning and an end. The songs on there really shift very slowly. There’s some great textures, and all these songs and soundscapes that kind of meld in and out, and I think that’s one of the big lasting legacies of this album.”
Freeline Media contributor Brek Dalrymple was a teenager in the 1970s, and he remembers falling in love with “Dark Side of the Moon” when it first hit record stores.
“I used to sit in my room with the lights off, jamming out listening to it,” he said.
Even today, Weremchuk said, “There’s this mystique associated with Pink Floyd. They haven’t been together for a while now, but their legacy lives on.”
Heidi Bolduc, the program director at The Phoenix Network in downtown Orlando, has taken the History of Rock & Roll course at UCF and is a member of the 20-something generation. She’s aware of the enduring reputation that “Dark Side” has, but frankly admits she likes today’s rock music a lot better.
“I like classic rock, but it’s not something I get into,” she said. “I get into newer rock, personally. There are people my age, twenty-somethings, who are into that genre. Most of the people my age like it because they grew up with their parents listening to it, and got into it and continued to like it.”
That’s the case, she said, with “Dark Side.”
“That album is definitely one of those revered albums, and anyone familiar with rock in general has heard it and is familiar with the songs,” she said. “But for me personally, I listen to the music and can’t appreciate it as much because I’m not from that era. I wasn’t around for that whole acid rock movement.”
To get tickets the Classic Albums Live performance of “Dark Side of the Moon,” call the Hard Rock Live Box Office at 407-351-5483 or log on to HardRockLive.com for more information.
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