Flaming Lips cover Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' album; results are surprisingly awful

It should come as no surprise that the Flaming Lips have covered Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety—they’re clearly indebted to (and in love with) the tripped out, experimental side of Pink Floyd. What is a surprise, however, is that their retooling of the album is tedious and unsatisfying.

The album opens with punk icon/activist Henry Rollins reciting the interview snippets that begin the original Dark Side (he even provides the requisite maniacal laughter), but his straight-faced readings of these well-known phrases (“I’ve always been mad”) sound like bad community theater. When the group delves into “Breathe,” they recast the tune as an energetic Krautrock jam, but Wayne Coyne’s odd stop-start vocals don’t match the propulsive backing band.

Speaking of backing bands, Stardeath and the White Dwarfs (headed by Wayne’s nephew, Dennis Coyne) assist the Lips throughout the album. The best song on the record, “Time/Breathe (Reprise),” is attributed solely to them on iTunes, so they don’t ruin their developing reputation. They actually imbue “Time” with some much-needed muscle, and the tape-looped cough they add to the song is a nice Steve Reich touch.

For “The Great Gig in the Sky,” electro-rock provocateur Peaches shows up to squeal a rendition of Clare Torry’s famous wordless vocals. Her performance is funky but not fresh—it’s a fair attempt to make it her own, but she fails to hit the listener on a gut level.

The absolute worst moment on The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon (yeah, that’s the full name of the album) is “Money.” The Lips turns the Dark Side’s biggest hit into a plodding, tuneless waltz with irritating vocoder vocals—it’s rare to hear a song sound so mechanical and cartoonishly dopey at the same time. Take a listen to it after the jump:

The whole album isn’t embarrassing, but its better moments—the instrumentals “On the Run” and “Any Colour You Like”—are merely bearable. There isn’t enough fascinating material here to justify an official release of this project. Why does this fail so miserably? It might have something to do with the fact that even today Dark Side sounds ahead of its time (a rare feat for a 70s prog-rock album), whereas this album recasts all nine songs in a King Crimson-lite style that has sounded stale since well before Dark Side was even released.

It’s not that this crew doesn’t reinvent the material, it’s that they allow their versions to bring out the cheesiest elements in the Flaming Lips’ sound. Some of the synth squiggles here sound like they belong in Plan 9 from Outer Space instead of a tribute to Pink Floyd’s groundbreaking, gorgeous album.

One thing you have to give them credit for, though: Coyne and company were smart enough to hold off on releasing this album until the very end of the year—otherwise this stillborn would be a shoo-in for those Worst Albums of 2009 lists. What do you think? Is it an affront to the original, or does it actually tickle you pink (floyd)?

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
The 10 best singles of 2009: EW’s definitive list
The year in NSFW video: What were the gnarliest, nakedest music clips of ‘09?
The ultimate 2009 mashup
The most watched YouTube videos of 2009

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • ks

    SACRALIGE!!!! (sp)

    • travelloversdate

      I agree totally

    • p3ngin

      It’s hard to come out as good as a band that set there greatest master piece almost 40 years ago, I think the lips are on fire and need to keep on rolling with whatever they are doing. I just hope this doesn’t discourage people from going out and seeing what the flaming lips are all about.

    • Gen W

      Sacre Bleu!!

  • Jerry

    Just listened to the Flaming Lips version of “Money.” Just terrible. I don’t know what else to say.

  • Dee

    BLASPHEMOUS!!!!! wat the hell did they do to “Money”!!!!

  • Brian

    It’s barely awful. And they didn’t do anything to “Money” except cover it. No blashemy involved. It’s a decent tribute and I think the knee-jerk, out-of-hand dismissal of it is unwarranted. In any case, the Lips released one of the best albums of the year and one of the best of their career. If they want to noodle around with a ’70s stoner rock classic, they have every right to. Great year for the Flaming Lips.

    • Brian

      Clarification: “one of the best albums of the year and one of the best of their career” refers to ‘Embryonic,’ not their cover of ‘Dark Side.’

    • p3ngin

      Ty it was a decent album, nothing spectacular and i am a huge lips fan. But that said it’s better than any other floyd songs covered in the last 15 years. Besides the live show they did for the album on new years was freakn amazing.. much love go listen to some lips albums and learn about some good weird music.

  • Andy

    Horrendous!

  • just call me j

    wow…the level of suck-itude that the lips drop this song to is off the chart. “breathe” is actually the song that made me fall in love with floyd, albeit 24 years after “dark side” was released, and changed my perception that floyd was one of those bands that only “bad kids and burnouts” listen to (hey, i was raised by a cop in podunk berks county pa). i hear the words, and know it’s “breathe,” but with the screechy guitars and the bongos, i can’t recognize the music. epic fail, lips, EPIC FAIL.

  • Kevin

    It’s REALLY bad… but then I’ve never been a huge Flaming Lips fan. There are always a couple of good-to-great songs on each Lips album hidden amidst a bunch of nonsensical silliness. It’s not that I don’t like odd, non-traditional soundscapes, but I like my psychedelia to be of the mind-tripping variety as opposed to the room-full-of-children-banging-on-pots-pans-and-synths variety.

  • Tom

    what has the music industry come to….this less than average cover album makes me dislike modern music more than i already did.

  • Tad Ghostal

    The only cover of Dark Side that’s worth a listen is Easy Star All-Star’s “Dub Side of the Moon”, an all-reggae version that actually brings something new to the table.

  • lunchboxx

    I’ve always hated these guys. But now I hate them even more just for being pompous enough to think they can try and remake this. Its classic for a reason. Leave it alone.

  • Eric In Racine

    This doesn’t surprise me. They did a horrendous cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”…maybe they should just stick to original material rather than slaughtering classic rock.

    • frosting

      Oh God… of all the songs to cover, this is the one song that should be left entirely alone. Only a band at Queen’s level (like Muse, for example) could do it, and even then I would still highly recommend that they leave it alone and cover another song. Bo Rhap is just too easy of a song to butcher, because of how difficult it is to sing and perform it, considering the level of talent that created it.

      • John

        I like Muse, but they are not, so far, AT QUEEN’S LEVEL. Muse is not even at Coldplay level. Muse is yet to deliver a masterpiece or a career defining album, like Queen or even Coldplay. People compare them to Radiohead, i don’t get the comparisons when Yorke and guys released more than 4 masterpieces. Muse has good to great albums, but hey are yet to achieve something bigger and better than that. Now everyone loves Muse, but hey, they’re not the best one of the best band ever, and that’s Queen’s level.

      • John

        Sorry i meant:

        * i don’t get the comparisons when the Yorke and guys released

        *Now everyone loves Muse, but hey, they’re not one of the best bands ever, and that’s Queen’s level.

  • Larry Mac

    Interesting.. but weak. I agree that Easy Star All-Star’s “Dub Side of the Moon” is much better, and a joy to listen to. Plus Les Claypool of Primus has done much better covers of Floyd songs on his various projects i.e. frog brigade, etc.

  • Jean Genie

    Gosh – we thought the Flaming Lips could do nothing wrong. It’s their turn now. Sorry, Greg Kot.

  • Dave

    Wow, the “Money” cover is indeed stunningly bad…it is the musical equivalent of nails on a blackboard.

  • steve d

    i dunno, i think it’s kind of funny. money makes me laugh…it’s a mechanical and dopey song to begin with.

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