Hakone Aphrodite, Hakone, Japan – August 6, 1971
Disc 1 (70:31) Atom Heart Mother, Green Is The Colour, Careful With that Axe Eugene, Echoes, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Disc 2 (28:46) A Saucerful Of Secrets, Cymbaline
Pink Floyd played two concerts on their first trip to Japan on August 6 and 7, 1971 as part of the Hakone Festival, several fragmented sources are in circulation and as the subject of this review, a new source has emerged with the most complete source yet. The earliest sources have been released as Echoes Of Japanese Meddle (Shout To The Top STTP 153), Aphrodite (Sirene 160), Memories Of The East (Sigma 24), First Time In Japan (Godfatherecords 933/934/935), and Aphrodite 1971 (Sigma 133), all of these titles were culled from two fragmentary sources. Late last year Sigma premiered a third incomplete source as Hakone Aphrodite 1971 Master Recording (Sigma 138) and Hakone Aphrodite Remastered and Restored (Sigma 139) and while still not complete the sonic quality was improved and we got Set The Controls for the Heart Of The Sun and an uncut Echoes. Now we have a fourth source to provide the most complete version of the concert to date. The sound quality is very good, I find it comparable to the third source, if anything the drums are a bit low in the mix when the full band plays, and the sound does breathe like many outdoor concert recordings do. The main issue with this tape is the mastering, noise reduction has been applied, for whatever reason, and it has left the “metallic” sound attributed with heavy handed mastering as a result, for me this completely ruins the title.
The recording is close to being complete, there are cuts between songs but are well done, no music is lost and you do get song introductions as well so the best of both worlds so to speak. There is a cut during Echoes from 2:09 to 2:54 that has been filled with recorder 3, hard to comment on it other than the noise is especially bad during this portion. Over all the band’s performance is great and very well received, there are some fireworks going off during A Saucerful Of Secrets that are quite interesting as so many recordings from Japan feature well behaved crowds, nice to hear a bit of hell raising from the festival goers. I have always like Sigma’s mastering, in my opinion they have always been tasteful and what embellishments they have done only made the tape sound better, except for now.
The packaging is nice, great looking cover and the rear and inside pictures are live shots from the festival. This set comes with a numbered sticker and an excellent recreation of the festival program. All this cannot save this title from the crap mastering. Hopefully Sigma rectifies this and gives us a “Raw and unprocessed Master” soon.