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Rolling Stones – The Lost Millard Masters (Vinyl Gang VGP-340)

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The Lost Millard Masters (Vinyl Gang VGP-340)

When the Rolling Stones visited Los Angles on the STP in 1972 they played four shows scattered through the county with one in Long Beach, one at the Hollywood Palladium and two at the Forum.  It was seen as a triumphant return to California after the bitterness of how their last tour ended. 

Their return in the Tour Of The Americas three years later in 1975 presented a different set of circumstances.  They were touring with new member Ron Wood and with a large back up horn section.  The Stones have auxiliary musicians on stage with them including the horn section of Steve Lawrence, Stave Madaio, Bobby Keys and Ed Davis, the same ones who joined them on the previous two tours. Billy Preston also supplemented the sound and plays several of his own songs later in the set. It is interesting that the horn section is minimized compared to the previous three tours in favor of Preston’s keyboards.  

Instead of shows in multiple venues scattered throughout the county, they booked five shows at the Forum, the biggest arena around and transformed it to fit the tour’s theme.  As it was reported in NME, “The Usherettes at the Los Angeles Forum all wear short Roman tunics, and calf-length, white mid-sixties style boots. The outfit gives them the looks of dowdy go-go dancers or the late shift at the Circus Maximus massage parlor. Only the heavy torches they carry indicate that they have a job. The job is to get a few thousand jostling Rolling Stones fans tidily in to their seats, and that, believe me, is no mean feat.”

The Lost Millard Masters presents the final three of the five LA Forum shows.  Utilizing the Mike Millard tapes, the title is really a misnomer because gaps in the Millard tapes are filled with alternate tape sources to produce the full show.  Millard has just recently obtained his very best equipment, just in time to capture the Led Zeppelin concerts in the vicinity the previous March.  These are his first Stones concerts and the sound quality on all of them are excellent.  

LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA – July 11th, 1975

Disc 1 (78:44):  Intro – Excerpt from Fanfare For The Common Man, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, If You Can’t Rock Me – Get Off Of My Cloud, Star Star, Gimme Shelter, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Happy, Tumbling Dice, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It), Band Introductions, Heartbreaker

Disc 2 (79:27) Fingerprint File, Angie, Wild Horses, That’s Life, Outa Space, Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Rip This Joint, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Sympathy For The Devil

Previous releases of the July 11th show include American Tour 1975 (Idol Mind Productions IMP RSLA-0075-01/02), The Romantic Part of the Rolling Stones (Fan 2 Fan) and in Whores, Cocaine & a Bottle of Jack (Empress Valley EVSD 43-50).  The Millard tape is the basis for these discs but an alternate tape is used from 2:43 in “Honky Tonk Women” to 1:40 in “All Down The Line” and again in “Fingerprint File” from 8:36 to 9:03.  The sound for the Millard tape is very good but a bit compressed while the alternate tape source is distant and very weak sounding.

It is a more standard performance in terms of the set list but there is obvious motivation to impress the Los Angeles audience.  This becomes evident early on in “If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud” when Preston plays “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as the song makes its dramatic transition in the middle.  Afterwards Jagger introduces “Starfucker” as about “a young lady who went astray.”

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the first of two epic performances in the set.  Preston plays interesting fills on the piano to compliment Jagger.  Ron Wood provides the guitar solo, but Steve Lawrence plays a beautiful saxophone solo in each of these three shows.

“Angie” and “Wild Horses” are the “romantic part, some people call it the slow part” of the show.  “Midnight Rambler” is the second epic and in each of these three shows is stretched out to close to sixteen minutes long.  The show ends like all of the LA Forum concerts, with a ten minute encore of “Sympathy For The Devil” joined on stage by the Steel Band Association of America. 

LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA - July 12th, 1975

Disc 3 (73:50): Intro: Excerpt from Fanfare For The Common Man, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, If You Can’t Rock Me – Get Off Of My Cloud, Star Star, Gimme Shelter, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Happy, Tumbling Dice, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It), Band Introductions, Heartbreaker

Disc 4 (71:56): Fingerprint File, Angie, Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song), Wild Horses, That’s Life, Outa Space, Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Rip This Joint, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Sympathy For The Devil

July 12th is the rarest of all the Los Angeles shows on silver.  An alternate tape used of three minutes of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and again picks up 1:19 in “Happy” runs though 3:01 in “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” to the end.  Of all the tapes this is the worst sounding, even by the taper’s high standards and has only appeared elsewhere in the Empress Valley boxset.

It is a shame too because this is one of the best of the Forum shows.  The band certainly are having a lot of fun onstage and play with a lot of enthusiasm.  Jagger makes many sly comments between songs including speaking about “Starfucker” as about “a song about a woman from New York who got herself into trouble” and speaking about keeping Keith on a very short leash before “Happy.”

This show has one of the more dramatic versions of “Fingerprint File.”  During the slow set Jagger sings a bit of “Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)” by Otis Redding to emphasize just how slow and sad the two songs are.  This evening’s version of “Sympathy For The Devil” has the most melodic piano of the five.  

LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA – July 13th, 1975

Disc 5 (76:08): Fanfare For The Common Man, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud, Star Star, Gimme Shelter, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Happy, Tumbling Dice, band introduction, It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll

CD 6 (76:25): Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Fingerprint File, Angie, Wild Horses, That’s Life, Outta Space, Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Rip This Joint, Street Fighting Man, Jumping Jack Flash, Sympathy For The Devil

The July 13th, 1975 concert is the finale of the LA Forum shows.  It is also the most well known with two separate, excellent sounding audience recordings that have been in release since right after the actual performance. In 1975 Idol Mind issued this show on two separate vinyl LPs. Who Went To Church This Sunday?: 1975 Tour Of The Americas, Pt. 1 and Charlie Watts And His Fabulous Rolling Stones: 1975 Tour Of The Americas, Pt. 2. Afterwards, in 1976 Moonstone Records combined the two on a double LP called 1975 Tour Of The Americas.

Some tracks from this show also appear on the vinyl L.A. Friday on Dragonfly, along with some tracks from the July 9 and July 10th shows. There are also 3LP sets under the name of 1975 Tour Of The Americas documenting the complete show. These vinyl titles were in constant release for fifteen years until the first compact discs carrying this show arrived on the scene. The vinyl were sourced from the first tape source which was confiscated, along with the stampers, in a raid in 1979 from the woman behind Idol Mind. The compact disc releases are sourced from Mike Millard’s excellent recording.

The masters have never been used (for any Millard sourced release), but come from a first generation from the VHS cassette tape. Among the earliest CD releases of this show are I Never Talked To Chuck Berry (Part 1) (Silver Rarities I.C.P A 202 7) and I Never Talked To Chuck Berry (Part 2) (I.C.P A 203 5) on the old Silver Rarities label.  Live In L.A. 1975 (Headliner 005) is a one disc in very good sound quality but obviously incomplete.

Starfuckers (Flashback Productions 04900119 01), You Can’t Rock Me(Stones Of Fire SOF 9005A/B), and The Complete LA Friday Tapes (Dandelion DL 036/037/038/039) are all releases from the early to mid nineties who issued the tape in excellent quality. Idol Mind again released this on L.A. Forum 75 (IMP-CD-026/027) and it can be found on Forum, Los Angeles, July 13th 1975 (RS 1/2).

Tarantura issued the tape on Fanfare For The Bootleg Man (Tarantura TCDRS-4-1/2/3) and Empress Valley use the tape for the 2001 box set Whores, Cocaine, And A Bottle Of Jack, a nine disc set with all of the LA Forum shows. Empress Valley subsequently re-released this show on a three CD set also called Whores, Cocaine, And A Bottle Of Jack (EVSD-43/44/45).  Rockin’ At The Forum 1975 Last Night (SODD 036/037)on the SODD label is the latest release and utilize a copy from Millard’s VHS tape.  They re-released this tape on The Complete LA Sunday Tapes (SODD 073-076), a four disc set with both audience tapes in their entirety. 

Vinyl Gang used this tape on three separate releases beginning with L.A. Friday 1975 (VGP-082) that was re-released as Who Went To Church This Sunday with the same matrix number.  Discs five and six of The Lost Millard Masters sounds the best of the lot.  It is certainly as good as the SODDS which came out after and which are probably copies of this one.     

Some claim this is the best sounding audience recording to emerge from the seventies. It is arguable, but it is one of the top ten tapes. The actual concert is as strong as the others in Los Angeles in 1975. The tape picks up during the “Fanfare For The Common Man” backing tape with the electronic rhythms underneath. This was played while the Chinese dragon made his way around the venue before the lotus shaped stage opened up to the strains of “Honky Tonk Women.” 

“If You Can’t Rock Me” is the first song played from the latest LP It’s Only Rock N Roll and is segued with “Get Off Of My Cloud” as it would be for the whole of this tour in 1976 in Europe. “We’re gonna do this song about a girl from New York who got herself in a difficult position…position number thirty-two, c’mon please” Mick says before “Starfucker.” For the female vocalization in “Gimme Shelter,” the annoying horns from 1973 were replaced with synthesizer and sounds much better.

It is before “Tumbling Dice” where Jagger gets into his famous rap about church, where he asks, “who went to church this Sunday? Nobody here went to church today? Everybody who went to church today say yeah.” There is a sizable applause. “I think you’re lying. I don’t believe a word.” Someone close to the taper says, “I’m in church now.” “I think Billy went to church today. Did you go to church today, Billy? Yeah?”

Afterwards there is a long delay because of Wood’s malfunctioning, out-of-tune guitar and Jagger introduces the band earlier than he normally would. “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” is the one radical in the set list, most of the time appearing but other times not.  This arrangement has the clavinet replacing the horn section and includes a subdued funk workout in the middle.

At the time of release The Lost Millard Masters provided a good alternative to the expensive and hard to find Empress Valley box set.  And its chief virtue for the Stones collector is to provide good versions of the July 11th and July 12th shows, both of which are difficult to find on disc.  This was one of the last Vinyl Gang releases and is still good to have.  It comes in a six disc fatboy jewel base with basic artwork and information on the artwork and pressed on gold discs.

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Rolling Stones - The Lost Millard Masters (Vinyl Gang VGP-340), 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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