Hakone Aphrodite 1971 2nd Night 50th Anniversary (Sigma 283)
Hakone Aphrodite, Hakone, Japan – August 7, 1971
Disc 1 (65:48) The Circle Game (Buffy Sainte-Marie), Soundcheck / Announcement, Atom Heart Mother, Soundcheck, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Soundcheck, Echoes
Disc 2 (43:53) Soundcheck, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Soundcheck, Cymbaline
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s first visit to Japan, a short tour featuring two concerts at the Hakone Festival and one in Osaka. In the collectors market the celebration actually began in late 2020 when Empress Valley released All Together Now – Hakone Aphrodite (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1423/1424), a complete recording of the first performance August 6, 1971 as part of the Hakone Festival. There have long been vinyl and CD titles featuring portions of the Hakone Festival, none given a firm date of which performance, but the EV title confirmed that the previous sources were indeed from the second night.
Sigma has issued a number of titles featuring the second performance, Aphrodite 1971 (Sigma 133), Hakone Aphrodite 1971 Master Recording (Sigma 138), Hakone Aphrodite Remastered and Restored (Sigma 139), Complete Aphrodite 1971 (Sigma 160), and the five disc compilation Aphrodite 1971 (Sigma 194). Now Sigma is presenting their sixth title featuring this material, after Sigma 194 one has to ask if we need another title of this stuff. Well from my perspective the answer is yes. I actually passed on Sigma 194 as I found it redundant since I have the other Sigma titles plus the excellent Godfather title First Time In Japan (Godfatherecords 993/934/935). Secondly, this new release presents the complete concert featuring a mix of the three best sources with mastering done by the person responsible for the Graf Zeppelin label. This made this new set a no brainer as the Graf Zeppelin label has been producing excellent Led Zeppelin titles since their debut ten years ago.
The first disc is based upon Recorder 2 and was the basis of Aphrodite 1971 (Sigma 133) and disc 1 of First Time In Japan (Godfatherecords 993/934/935) with missing portions coming from source 4 (Sigma 138 & 139) and source 5 (Sigma 160). The second CD is mostly Source 5 with small patches from source 4. The mastering on this new title is excellent, the sound of the three sources is as good if not better than the previous titles. The transitions from source to source is seamless and well done, this being an open air gig it makes the transitions easy on the ears as all three have that open air timbre. Most importantly to me is that source 5 (Sigma 160) does not have the metallic sound caused by excessive noise reduction, it now retains the original analog warmth.
Finally is the packaging, the inserts feature pictures that are actually all taken from the Hakone Festival, the interior tray has the event poster, as does the numbered sticker. The CD’s have a picture of Roger with his hair blowing in the wind, also from Hakone. I have always found the previous sources’ fragmentary nature makes for a difficult listen, not hard on the ears but the lack of tuning and chatter made for a dry experience, the amalgamation of sources to me is perfect, the best of the best is used and the concert is finally complete. The sound is easy on the ears and a great listening experience, for me, this is my go to title for Hakone 1971.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)