“A Saucerful of Secrets” was titled “The Massed Gadgets of Hercules” in its earliest performance and became a Pink Floyd live staple from 1968–72. A live version of the track is available on their 1969 double album Ummagumma, and an alternative version is seen and heard in the film Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii, which was performed at director Adrian Maben’s request as he thought it would be a good addition to the film.
The band felt we achieved something with the title track of A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). I can’t say as I fully understood what was going on when it was being made, with Roger sitting around drawing little diagrams on bits of paper. But throughout the following period I tried to add what I knew of harmony and bring it slightly more mainstream, if you like. And the way they worked certainly educated me. We passed on all our individual desires, talents and knowledge to each other.
Live performances of the song differed significantly from the studio version. The closely miked cymbal sound that starts the piece was instead performed as a two-note drone on the bass. For the “Syncopated Pandemonium” section, Richard Wright usually had to be content with playing his Farfisa organ instead of pounding a grand piano with his fists as on the studio recording (the version on Pompeii being a notable exception). The “Celestial Voices” section started with just organ as per the studio version, but gradually added drums, bass, guitar and wordless vocals, provided by David Gilmour.
The Japanese release of this song was simply titled 神秘 (shinpi?), which translates as “Mystery”. The album A Saucerful of Secrets, itself, also carried this title.
The song was Gilmour’s first songwriting credit with Pink Floyd. On the original vinyl, and early CD issues, his name was misspelled as “Gilmore”. This was corrected with the remastered version released in 1994.