There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pink Floyd’s 1973 opus, Dark Side of the Moon, is one of the most iconic albums of all time. The Hipgnosis designed sleeve, A prism refracting white light into a rainbow on a black background, is in some cases more recognisable than the music itself. Even those who haven’t heard a note of Pink Floyd’s music will know what it is. Then, however, something different appeared on the market from Japan.
While details are somewhat scarce, is said that this alternative sleeve was created sometime in late 1977 or 1978 for Toshiba-EMI’s (TOEMI) mail-order only record club in Japan. These were a popular marketing tool in Japan at this time, and it is believed TOEMI wanted to expand their international artist repertoire through their club releases.
The unique sleeve artwork depicts a live stage scene from their 1977 Animals Tour, which adds to the narrative that this was released between 1977/78. The famous tan and red EMI label design also supports this date range. Further evidence in support of its record club origin is that there is very little on the sleeve or label that’s printed in English. The song titles, band name and album title of course, but very little else. The back cover is virtually all Japanese script. The lyric insert is similarly basic, albeit with English lyrics.
This is, without doubt, the rarest pressing of The Dark Side of the Moon, and it’s widely regarded to be the rarest Pink Floyd record never issued. This has sold as high as £3500, and is one of the ultimate investment pieces. Regardless of its origin and the divided opinion about when and why it was manufactured, there is no doubt about its authenticity and extreme rarity.
This article appeared in issue 25 of Long Live Vinyl magazine, available now
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