California Stockyard Jon Wizardo Master Cassettes Unprocessed (Sigma 272)
Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California, USA – May 6, 1977
Disc 1 (54:31) Sheep, Pigs On The Wing Part 1, Dogs, Pigs On The Wing Part 2, Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Disc 2 (68:49) Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5, Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9, Money, Closing Announcement
Pink Floyd played two concerts in the Los Angeles area during their 1977 tour dubbed “In The Flesh” at the Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim. Recordings circulate for both concerts with the first night being the more famous of the two thanks to a vinyl bootleg entitled California Stockyard (Duck Records / Dansker Fanklubbe Grammofone Kolletiv Verzyl / Slipped Disc Records). This double vinyl LP features excellent sound yet was sadly incomplete as were many vinyl titles from the 70’s. While the vinyl appeared in numerous pressings, there has only been one version on compact disc that I know of, disc 5 of California Stockyard (Sirene-136), an excellent release featuring a comprehensive overview of both nights in Anaheim with both audio and video recordings.
In late 2020 a torrent appeared with the full recording that spawned California Stockyard from a fresh transfer of the master cassettes. The recording was made by a legend of the West Coast bootleg scene in the 1970’s and founder of Wizardo Records, Jon Wizardo. Over the next few months several new transfers taken directly from his master cassettes appeared, David Bowie, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, and The Who are just a few of the artists. Jon also recorded Pink Floyd at the Hollywood Bowl in September 1972, his recording was pressed on vinyl as the famous title, “Crackers” and a transfer is supposed to be forthcoming. At this point for those looking for more information about the man himself, here is a link to an extensive interview that provides a fascinating glimpse into the sorrid world of bootlegging:
Of the two recordings in circulation from the first night in Anaheim, the Wizardo recording is the best. Jon used a Sony TC-153SD deck with a Sony ECM-99 stereo mic and captured an incredible sound stage. The sound is overall excellent, clear and defined with excellent clarity with almost no distortion, the tape hiss is almost non existent, only detectable in the quite sections. Being an outdoor gig, the sound is just a bit thin yet captures the atmosphere incredibly well. This recording captures the quadraphonic sound system perfectly, in fact many feel the best way to listen to this recording is through headphones. When I compare this new version to the Sirene version this is the clear winner, the dynamic range in greatly improved, so much the vinyl transfer sounds flat in comparison. The transfer used by Sirene is an accurate representation of the vinyl version as I have had that one on my collection for years, the Slipped Disc version.
Like many recordings, the sound during the first number is a notch below the rest, the recordings starts as the lights go down and there is a fever pitch from the massive crowd, Snowy White’s bass starts as do the fireworks and finally Richard Wright’s keyboards as the atmosphere builds. Jon fiddles checks his recording levels as Roger’s vocals begin, all good to go, four minutes in the quality is excellent. Sheep sounds quite aggressive, in fact this recording sounds incredible and a voice in my head keeps telling me “turn it up….turn it up…”. Like usual the fast strumming ending of the song elicits cheers from the audience, certainly some sort of effects are happening as well.
Typically Dogs is powerful, Nick Mason’s drumming is clear and powerful in this recording and together with the bass give a powerful feel, Dave’s guitar swirls in the mix thanks to the quad system reminding me of the excellent 7/2/77 MSG recording. The Synthesizer middle section is always atmospheric and seems to swirl around just over your head, like a moving haze of sounds with dogs barking in the distance. One can assume the quiet coughs are Jon, perhaps the rain was getting to him, or he was enjoying some good California weed. The first of two cuts in Jon’s tapes occurs just after Pigs On The Wing Part 2, this is compensated with recorder 1, the patch is seamless and virtually undetectable by just listening. This patch gives us the oinking of pigs, a necessary prelude to the highlight of the first set, Pigs (Three Different Ones). Gerard notes in his review of the Sirene title that the audience was unruly, they certainly were but Jon seems far from the hi-jinks but does capture Roger’s comment about “Beating the shit out of each other”, this violence is nothing but another brick in his growing wall.
We may be hearing Jon in a quiet brief discussion at the beginning of the second set, and we finally get to hear Shine On You Crazy Diamond from this source. The sound is sublime, you can hear David touching the frets as he begins the sorrowful leads that, along with Rick’s keys, define the song, the keys stay constant, the guitar floats around beautifully. From this vantage point the crowd is actually mellow for the Wish You Were Here portion, perfect as the recording is vividly clear and detailed. Welcome To The Machine is extremely enjoyable, you detect nuances of sound, these almost twitchy electronic splashes pulsate through the soundscape. There is a second patch at the end of Welcome To The Machine that is again filled with the other source, again perfectly done and you get a feeling for the other side of the stadium as shouts of “Sit Down” are heard.
David is late in hitting the lead at the beginning of Have A Cigar, his leads seem like he is grasping at straws, perhaps his head is elsewhere. The acoustic guitars are very well captured in this recording, interesting you can actually hear the echo in the stadium during the chorus, such is the depth of this tape. The second half of Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9 gives Dave a chance to improvise and he plays a very relaxed solo that also features Snow White with some nice playing, two guitars playing different things but complimenting each other. “”Mike says they’ll be back, but will they really….I’m freezing”… Ladies and gentlemen…Pink Floyd will not be back”…c’mon what do they want to make beggars out of us?”…just a few comments from Jon W and his band of merry Floydians. The sole encore is Money, the sounds of the cash register brings the stadium to its feet, the sound is just a bit distant at the start while things settle. Typical for 1977, the song is a last bit of Rock and Roll, a perfect ending to a rowdy concert. The ending announcements say that tonight’s attendance was over 40,000, something that garners a nice cheer, “Please drive carefully on the way home” and a last comment from our heroes, “sure was the sickest version of Money” end the recording.
The packaging is standard Sigma, full colour inserts with mostly live shots of the band “In The Flesh”, a couple LP pictures would have been nice but there is a shot of a ticket stub. The transfer and mastering of this recording is excellent and full props go to Jon Wizardo and Neonknight for obvious reasons and for Sigma for getting this recording out for all to enjoy.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)