Burbank 1976 Mike Millard Original Master Tapes (Virtuoso 422/423)
Starlight Bowl, Burbank, CA, USA – May 1, 1976
Disc 1 (56:35) Intro, Dance On A Volcano, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, The Cinema Show, Robbery Assault And Battery, White Mountain, Introduction Of Bill Bruford, Firth Of Fifth
Disc 2 (61:22) Steve Hackett MC, Entangled, Squonk, Supper’s Ready, I Know What I Like, Los Endos, It, Watcher Of The Skies
The release of recordings from the Mike Millard archives, The Lost and Found Mike The MICrophone series, has been thus far quite diverse. Beginning with Volume 18 they were being sourced from direct transfers of the master tapes, many recordings finally getting the attention they deserve and in the best quality available. From a historical perspective, these recordings being transfer digitally will ensure Mike Millard’s legacy will be preserved and enjoyed for years to come. As someone who has been following these releases weekly, I have been enjoying reading the notes that accompany each one, gaining insight to the legendary taper’s music taste and best of all, recording techniques. Being a taper myself, I love reading stories of what the “pioneers” of the trade had to go through to get their gear in and successfully ply their craft.
Many of these Millard recordings have been released to the collectors market, I have been adding many of these to my buy list, which brings us to this new title from the Virtuoso label that features “The MIC’s” recording of Genesis during a stop on their A Trick Of The Tail tour. The tour was notable for being the first without iconic front man Peter Gabriel and the first with drummer turned vocalist Phil Collins. Millard’s good friend Jim R went to the show with Mike, and provided some of his memories of the event that deserve mention:
Mike and I attended the Genesis concert together at the Starlight Amphitheater in Burbank on May 1, 1976. This was the only LA show on the A Trick Of The Tail Tour. The Starlight holds about 5000, so despite being outdoors the concert still had an intimate feeling. It was our first time at the Starlight, so we didn’t know what to expect. We had total familiarity with the Forum and Long Beach Arena, which made Starlight a little mystical, so to speak.
I pushed Mike in the wheelchair, We sat in Section B Row L which is 12th row center. Unfortunately there was a grass area between the stage and the front row, so our seats were the equivalent to 18-20 rows back. This distance caused my pictures to be grainy looking (though they are used in the artwork here). The sound was pretty good despite our seat location. This concert holds special significance in that it was the first of many Genesis concerts we would eventually attend together. In hindsight, Mike and I wished we would have witnessed the “Lamb” show at the Shrine Auditorium the year before.
The Burbank concert was incredible and we became instant hardcore fans. Phil Collins did a great job on lead vocals replacing Peter Gabriel. Phil also filled the role of primary MC for the evening. We both loved Mike Rutherford’s bass pedals. Steve Hackett and Tony Banks were impressive, Bill Bruford helped out on drums. “Cinema Show” and “Supper’s Ready” were particular highlights. The Starlight presented a beautiful setting. The weather was perfect. An awesome night for a concert. They projected video onto a backstage screen that tied in perfectly with the subject of each song. For example, people crawling in slow motion during “Carpet Crawlers.”
It was truly a magical night and that comes through on the tape.
The recording is excellent, a perfect balance, clear and very atmospheric. The frequency range is also excellent, if anything it lacks the really clean and crisp high end. There is just a very minor bit of distortion present during the deep Taurus pedal portions of some songs. The recording breathes a bit as well as the venue was an outside amphitheater, the crowd is perfect in the mix and captures the ambiance of the event. Mike was not the only taper in attendance as there looks to be two alternate recordings of this concert, one credited to Bill was released on CD-r as From The Bill’s Archive (Blue Cafe 140 A/B), I did briefly listen to samples of this recording and while it is very good, Millard’s version trumps it. This alternate source is used to fill two small gaps, 5:52 to 6:00 of Robbery Assault and Battery, the second is 6:41 to 6:50 after Squonk, no music is lost in either and it is crowd noise and Phil saying “Hello”. The patches are very smooth and well done.
The set list on the tour is a nice cross section of existing Genesis standards blending perfectly with new material from A Trick Of The Tail. Dance On A Volcano is a great opening number and is well received with the audience. Still tentative during his opening monologue, Phil gives a humble greeting and introduction “Good evening Los Angeles…what a pleasure to be back…in such nice surroundings too, yes good ol’ Burbank. Ok, well the last time we were here, at the Shrine, we played you the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, and tonight we’ve selected a few delicacies from here, there, and everywhere, we’ve re titled it Lamb Stew”. The fifteen minute segment from the iconic Gabriel era record features the title track plus Fly On A Windshield and ends with the beautiful Carpet Crawlers, the latter features Collins putting his own passionate stamp on it. The Cinema Show features Phil doing the Romeo and Juliet rap, the band still holding on to the story theme introductions to some songs.
Mike Rutherford does the One Eyed Wolf introduction to the Trespass deep track White Mountain to a nice round of applause, once the band begin the song they are so quiet you could hear a pin drop obviously transfixed with the song. Bill Buford is introduced as a special guest after being hand picked by Collins for the drummers stool so he could focus on his newfound role as front man. They then proceed to perform a wondrous version of Firth Of Fifth, Bruford puts his own stamp on the song with his lightning fast fills certainly honed by his time in King Crimson. Of course the song features beautiful playing from Steve Hackett, he weaves his leads throughout the song and are an important alternate melody line of the song.
A gentle version of Entangled is very English and hearkens back to an early Genesis sound while Squonk is modern Genesis, synth heavy certainly with Taurus pedals. I have seen Genesis tribute band The Music Box play the song, it was a song not only heard but felt. The song is a stepping stone from old guard to the new, its significance in structure and lyrics would propel the band into the future, leaving the old behind. The culmination of the main set is from Foxtrot, the twenty plus epic Supper’s Ready. Again the crowd cheers happily yet are extremely quiet and respectful, certainly there to listen to the magnificent music being played. Fan favorite I Know What I Like is as fun as the Gabriel versions, gets the people moving and feeling good. Collins says goodnight and they close the set with Los Endos featuring both Collins and Bruford on drums. Encore is the closing song of The Lamb, It with its Watcher In The Skies ending, the latter gets a nice response from the crowd as they begin it.
The packaging is inserts with A Trick Of The Tail graphics intertwined with posed and live shots from the era. Curious is the inclusion of a photo of the band in New York City’s Central Park, Collins even has on a Rangers NHL sweater. Nonetheless a decent packaging complete with a numbered sticker and picture discs, standard fare. A very enjoyable concert and wonderful recording make for a most enjoyable listening experience.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)