Osaka 1971 (Sigma 67)
Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – August 9th, 1971
Disc 1 (50:05): Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun, Atom Heart Mother
Disc 2 (73:54): Echoes, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Osaka 1971 on Sigma is a new release on featuring the master tape of the August 9th, 1971 show in Festival Hall. The sound quality is very good. The taper paused the tape between numbers to eliminate the tune-ups, and there is some distortion in very loud passages, but nothing too extreme.
It is the same tape source that contributed two songs, “Cymbaline” and “Fat Old Sun” to the old vinyl release Pink Floyd (kp339-kp344) and “A Saucerful Of Secrets” to Fourth Eclipse Night (Highland HL593/594) along with the Osaka show on March 9th, 1972.
The first release of the entire show can be found on Live In Osaka 1971 (Zeus Z20102701/2). The Sigma sounds noticeably more clear than Zeus (although some distortion is still present). Sigma also runs slower than Zeus, restoring the music to its original pitch. As such, it is a significant upgrade over the older release.
Pink Floyd scheduled only three shows on their first tour of Japan in August 1971. The first two were in Hakone at the open air festival on August 6th and 7th and the final on August 9th in the Festival Hall in Osaka on August 9th with support by Buffy St. Marie and The 1910 Fruit Company at all three.
The tape opens with Waters introducing the medley of “Green Is The Colour” and “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” This is a short, dramatic pairing that had been utilized for more than a year up to this point. The mellow opening tune is a bucolic and pastoral foil for the mechanized psychedelic crunch that will comprise “Careful With That Axe Eugene” and the better part of the next two hours.
After the two Ummagumma song two new tracks are played from Atom Heart Mother released the previous October. “Fat Old Sun” had already been expanded to three times the length of the studio recording with extra guitar solos in the middle and superlative interplay between Gilmour and Wright. Waters introduces “Atom Heart Mother” as the last song of the first set before they play an eighteen minute version without orchestra and minimal vocals but with emphasis is upon the instruments.
The first song of the second half of the show is “Echoes.” Zeus print this on the artwork under the initial working title “Return Of The Sons Of Nothing” but Waters introduces it under the correct name in these shows. However it still has the extra lyrics not found in the studio version: “Two planets meeting face to face / One to the other cried, how sweet / If endlessly we might embrace / The perfect union, deep in space / If Heaven might this once relent / And give us leave to shine as one / Our two lights here forever / One light blend /And through that longing to be one / The parting summons sound is wrong / I’ll see you back to travel on / And on and on, around the sun.” The depth of the recording enhances the chugging bass-lines in the middle of the piece and the finale.
“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” gets off to a noisy, clanging start and Wright leads the band into atonal explorations in the most psychedelic song of the evening. Compared to the new material it sounds slightly out of date in the program but is nevertheless effective.
“Cymbaline” is one of the more concrete and melodic songs in the set and the audience are extremely quiet during the footstep interlude in the middle.
The encore is a twenty-minute version of “A Saucerful Of Secrets” that, while sounding slightly dated has moments of true terror and religious awe in the middle during the “Syncopated Pandemonium” section. This is one of the early Pink Floyd’s most effective stage pieces which reached the height of its development and performance during this time.
Osaka 1971 is packaged in a double slim jewel case. Sigma use some photographs from the same photo session from when Pink Floyd visited Japan in 1971 and even some of the same pictures from the tour programme. The sound quality and overall mastering of the tape is enough to make this definitive for this particular show and is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)