Ruled Over America (King Stork Records KSR-098/099)
The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – June 23rd, 1976
Disc 1: Venus and Mars, Rock Show, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed, Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Live And Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words, Richard Corey, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird
Disc 2: Yesterday, You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto & Titanium Man, Go Now, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Time To Hide, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily
Mike Millard’s tape of Wings’ final Over America concert was first released in the late seventies on Wings From The Wings by Idle Mind Productions (IMP1117) on three LPs one red, one white and one blue. More recently Misterclaudel out of Japan released their version of Wings From The Wings in 2004 with a copy of the vinyl cover art. Ruled Over America on the King Stork label is the latest incarnation of this tape. It is advertised as being a “Mike Millard Master Edition” on the back cover. Since it is well known the master tapes are in possession of his family and have not circulated, this is a false claim.
Compared to the Misterclaudel version, King Stork is much louder and they have gone easier on the top end. It has a brighter sound but the hiss is also very loud especially in the quieter passages. This hiss is not a simple inconvenience to an otherwise great tape, but is a general nuisance. The volume on the hiss is so loud that it hurt my ears under the headphones and made listening to this tape an unpleasant chore. Some claim that “Call Me Back Again” and “Beware My Love” comes from the June 22nd show in Los Angeles but there are no cuts on the tape either before or after the numbers and it is in identical sound quality as the rest so it seems to be legitimate.
The concert is the third of three at the Forum in LA and the final of Wings’ only tour of the US. Much of this show was used for the official three LP set Wings Over America (released on December 10th, 1976). As can be expected after touring for two months, the band sound tired and delivers a lackluster show. It isn’t as bad as I claim in the Wings From The Wings review and there are some highlights worth noting. The opening three-song salvo (“Venus & Mars”, “Rock Show” and “Jet”) is good but Paul fights some feedback during “Let Me Roll It”.
“This is a tune we wrote in New Orleans” is his introduction to “Call Me Back Again”. The long acoustic set is a highlight although the softer numbers like “Bluebird” and “Blackbird” are lost in the mush of the distorting hiss. The old Moody Blues hit “Go Now” was added to the set list for the final shows in Los Angeles to be added to the official LP. They play an energetic version of “Silly Love Songs” with Paul interjecting “I love yous” between the verses. “Band On The Run” sounds very heavy (the height of Paul’s arena rock aesthetic). Overall this concert still isn’t on the same level as some of the others but is ultimately very effective and enjoyable.
It is a shame the tape, which is theoretically very good, has such defects to it making this a tough listen. Sometimes mastering is a bad thing and the list of potentially great releases ruined by overzealous mastering is very long. But in other cases mastering is necessary and this tape is definitely one of them. With the thick layer of hiss in the upper frequencies and the frequent channel dropouts, really needs work in order to be presentable for an enjoyable listen. The label also left faint “bumps” between tracks that are not serious but noticeable.
King Stork is capable of releasing excellent titles but no label is perfect. Ruled Over America is one such title that is easy to avoid. Misterclaudel is a superior release to this since those problems aren’t present and runs closer to the correct speed. The drawback to Misterclaudel is the duller sound making the show sound uninspired and sluggish. The front cover artwork is a clever use of Wings At The Speed Of Sound which is what they were supporting on this tour and there are individual photos of the band members on the back. There are many other great shows and recordings from Wings Over America that are much better in sound quality and performance than this one.