Hakone Aphrodite, Hakone, Japan – August 6, 1971
(54:20) Atom Heart Mother, Echoes, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
When a new source emerged for Pink Floyd’s performance at the Japan Hakone Festival my interest was piqued. While all that exists of this concert is fragments this new recording gave us just a bit more of the puzzle and in very good quality. Sigma released the first version of the recording on silver as Hakone Aphrodite 1971 Master Recording (Sigma 138). The source tape was originally recorded in mono but during duplication was mixed to a false stereo and given to the tapers cousin, this caused a slight delay in one channel. An enterprising fan took note of this and fixed the issue, it is his work that is featured for this release, one that came hot on the heals of the first tape. Not wanting to waste more money on another redundant title, I was able to borrow a copy for reviewing purposes.
After back to back listening’s of these two versions of the tape I struggle to tell a real difference, if anything the new and re master version is just a hair clearer like going from a 7 to a 7.25. It should be noted that I do not listen to these recordings under head phones, where the subtle differences may be more noticeable. The other difference is that for the re master Echoes and Set The Controls for The Heart Of The Sun positions have been changed as most believe STCFTHOTS was the encore for the performance.
The recording is very good and well balanced, all instruments and vocals can be heard, sounds like the taper was close to the stage as the sound levels are better than the other version, the frequencies seem too bulked into the middle and the lack of upper end make it sound rather flat. That being said this is, in my opinion, the best sounding of what circulates. The main highlight on this new tape source is Set The Controls for The Heart Of The Sun, since there are cuts between all songs and the fragmentary nature of the other recordings make it difficult to decipher exactly where in the set the song was played, the version here is a typically wonderful version of the song, Richard Wright’s keyboards are perfect in the mix and the song is nicely detailed making for a wonderful listening experience. The other highlight of this tape is we finally get a complete version of Echoes, even Roger’s introduction to the piece is complete “Ok this is a new piece, and it’s called Echoes”. Typical of early versions this one has the alternate “Planets singing face to face” lyrics, despite the long journey to get to Japan, the band sounds refreshed and play a superb version of the song. So there you have it, another piece of the puzzle, I love early 70’s Floyd and was quite excited to see a new tape fragment appear after all these years, and while not complete, highly enjoyable.
The packaging is typical for Sigma, full color inserts with live shots from the festival and made to look like a companion piece to the Sigma 138 edition of the tape. For people who do not have a copy of this recording in their collection, this is the preferred version, for those of us who have the earlier version, no need to waste more money as the differences do not even come close to justifying the investment of this title.