Classic Rock Corner

Dark Side of the Moon: Best Blockbuster Album Ever?

Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd's seminal album about mental illness, the inevitability of death, and anxiety born of living in modern society, turns 38 today. It remains one of the most successful...

Wait a minute? DSotM is 38 years old? How is that possible? It seems like just yesterday that a young, proto-mulleted Rocks Off was buying his first batch of cassettes for his new tape deck - a birthday present from Mom and Dad, probably to keep us from screwing around with their turntable.

Roger Waters and the boys came home that day in a plastic bag nestled alongside David Bowie's Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Quiet Riot's Metal Health (don't judge). If Floyd's (arguably) greatest slab is almost 40, then that means Rocks Off is... well, let's not talk about that right now.

The album spent a mind-boggling 741 weeks on the Billboard charts, finally slipping off in 1988. Its current worldwide sales sit at 45 million, still a formidable total, but no longer No. 1 (two albums have sold more). Still, looking at Floyd's companions atop the list of best-selling albums got us thinking: These other guys have moved a lot of product, but are any of the other albums with over 42 million* copies sold actually better than Dark Side?


Michael Jackson, Thriller

Worldwide Sales: 110 million

Arguments For: The King of Pop's magnum opus leads the next contender by a greater than 2:1 margin, and its slick production and hooks are matched only by its ubiquity. To this day, the only house we've ever been in without a copy was our grandparents' - who did have Off the Wall.

Arguments Against: Not many. "The Girl is Mine," maybe. And the inescapable knowledge of the freakshow he would soon become.

Verdict: We can certainly see the arguments, but in Rocks Off's opinion, DSotM is still better.

AC/DC, Back in Black

Worldwide Sales: 49 million

For: While Moon was a natural result of Pink Floyd's growth as a band, Back in Black was the album that wasn't supposed to get made in the first place. AC/DC almost broke up after lead singer Bon Scott's death five months earlier. Instead, they released what would become the second best-selling album of all time, containing several of the band's biggest hits.

Against: Uh...we're kind of sick of "You Shook Me All Night Long."

Verdict: Man, this is tough. We're going with Back in Black, even though it's like comparing lush, textured apples to aggressive, pile-driving oranges.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar