CES 2003: Dark Side of the Moon Is Coming to SACD

CES: A new version of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ featuring 5.1 SACD Surround Sound was officially announced during an SACD press event and celebration earlier tonight at the Baby’s Night Club in the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas.

David Kawakami, the SACD Project’s North America Director revealed that Pink Floyd’s legendary album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ will be released worldwide as a single inventory, hybrid layer multi-channel SACD. Citing ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as one of rock music’s true classics, Kawakami said he was “very excited to make this announcement tonight”.

The album is scheduled to be released on March 3, 2003 to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the album. EMI also notes that this will be the first SACD disc release by Capitol Records in the U.S. market. (SACDs have been released on both the EMI and Capitol Records labels in Europe.)

Like the last major release of this type, the 22 disc Rolling Stones re-mastered series, the new edition of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album will only appear as a hybrid SACD disc — there will be no conventional CD version. As a hybrid multi-channel SACD, the disc will feature multi-channel SACD, stereo SACD and stereo CD versions of the songs on the album and will be compatible with CD and SACD players.

A Nod to the Rolling Stones and ABKCO Records
Tipping his hat to the success of the Rolling Stones re-mastered SACD series, David Kawakami noted that ABKCO Records has now sold over 2 million copies of the Rolling Stones SACDs worldwide. Kawakami introduced ABKCO’s President Jody Klein to the audience and praised his vision in making the bold move to release the Rolling Stones re-mastered series on single inventory, hybrid stereo SACD discs.

According to Kawakami, the Stones SACDs gave the SACD format “a real shot in the arm” and he is now hopeful that the major SACD releases announced at tonight’s event will move the format forward in the same manner.

Dark Side of the Moon Will Feature 5.1 Mix
EMI says that this will be the first time that ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ will be presented in “full 5.1 Surround Sound”. While that is true, 1970’s Quad fans will recall that ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ did appear during that era in a 4-channel, quadraphonic mix that was issued on quadraphonic 8 track tape and SQ Matrix quadraphonic disc.

The new 5.1 mix of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is being done by James Guthrie. Guthrie has acted as the producer/engineer for Pink Floyd for many years and was approved by the band for this remixing assignment.

Guthrie was responsible for the 5.1 mix on Roger Waters’ multi-channel SACD and DVD Video releases of ‘In The Flesh Live’ as well as performing the 5.1 mixes for two recent Pink Floyd discs on DVD Video: «Pulse» and «The Wall».

Also of note, a number of Multichannel SACDs have been mastered at Guthrie’s Das Boot Studios by well known mastering engineer Doug Sax. Albums in this group include Aerosmith «Toys in the Attic», Alison Krauss & Union Station’s «New Favorite» and «Live», Steve Tyrell «Standard Time», Ryan Adams «Gold», James Taylor «JT», Nickel Creek «Nickel Creek» and Johnny Mathis «Christmas Album». In fact, I’m told that Sax currently uses Guthrie’s Das Boot studio for all of his 5.1 multi-channel SACD mastering work.

James Guthrie had been invited to this evening’s event to formally announce the release of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’on SACD, however, Gutrie was unable to make the event since he is still finalizing the 5.1 mix for the release. Kawakami said that Guthrie was “chained to his console” at the moment to make sure that the new 5.1 mix of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is completed and the SACD discs are pressed in time for the March 3rd worldwide release date.

Comments on the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ SACD from EMI
At the SACD announcement event, a press release from EMI was handed out that included comments from EMI officials about the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ SACD announcement and release.

In the release, EMI officials said, “By all industry standards, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is a phenomenon. Known for its complex instrumental textures, the album firmly established Pink Floyd as one of the most innovative rock bands in rock history. Since its release in 1973, Dark Side of the Moon has sold over 30 Million Albums and spent an incredible 741 weeks on the Billboard’s Album Chart.

The release went on to quote Mark Collen, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for EMI Recorded Music as saying “We’re very pleased to be able to offer ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ to the millions of Pink Floyd fans for the first time in 5.1 surround sound. It’s perfectly suited to showcase the benefits of high resolution formats like SACD, which can faithfully capture the subtle nuances of the Floyd’s intricate music.

Also quoted was Tony Wadsworth, Chairman and CEO of EMI Recorded Music UK. Wadsworth says that “The hybrid SACD technology allows us to give the Pink Floyd fan a highly value added product. Both as a fully surround sound capable disc on SACD players and as a newly remixed and re-mastered CD for CD players. Pricing will be compatible with a regular full price frontline CD release.

Roger Waters Comments on the New 5.1 Mix of ‘Dark Side of the Moon
In the days leading up to this evening’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ SACD announcement, there has been much speculation and discussion about the release of the album. One of the questions raised by several people on Internet discussion groups is how would a new 5.1 surround mix of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’compare to the 4-channel quadraphonic mix of the 1970s?

Wondering about how that will play out, I checked with people close to the project. They confirmed that record producer/engineer James Guthrie is working very closely with the members of Pink Floyd to get their review and sign off on the new 5.1 mix of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as well as the quality of the SACD disc itself.

According to David Kawakami, Pink Floyd member Roger Waters was recently in New York to listen to a SACD Test Pressing of the 5.1 surround mix. Kawakami said that Waters had given a thumbs up to the version of the mix he heard.

Kawakami told the attendees at tonight’s SACD event that Waters also offered the following comment about the new James Guthrie 5.1 mix of the album: “Whilst remaining faithful to the original album, James’ new 5.1 mix adds a whole new sonic dimension. I think ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ really lends itself to 5.1. There’s more space for all the theatre. I love it.

It’s good to hear that the Pink Floyd band members are involved in the 5.1 remix and disc review process. The comment from Roger Waters suggests that the 5.1 remix portion of the project is going well. As to how the final product sounds to Pink Floyd fans, I guess we’ll have to wait for the disc’s release in March to see. But the information provided to date makes it sound like the upcoming SACD release of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ will be worth waiting for. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd — Coming to SACD in March