Yes – Hollywood Bowl 1975 Mike Millard Master Tapes (Virtuoso 445/446)

Hollywood Bowl 1975 Mike Millard Master Tapes (Virtuoso 445/446) 

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA – June 21, 1975 

Disc 1 (67:15) Firebird Suite, Soundchaser, Close To The Edge, To Be Over, The Gates Of Delirium 

Disc 2 (66:55) Your Move, Mood for A Day, Long Distance Runaround, Patrick Moraz Solo, Clap, And You And I, Ritual, Roundabout, Sweet Dreams 

The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes third release to feature Yesmusic was volume 59, Mike’s recording of Yes during the summer of 1975 at the historic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. This will be a rather short review, the focus will be on a bit of back story from the original torrent as well as a comparison to an older title, for those wanting a detailed review, I implore you to hit the link and read Gerard’s wonderful review of the highland title, after reading it I am reminded of his passion and love for the music of Yes. Here we go, let’s start with the excellent notes, again thanks to the JEMS team for these wonderful weekly torrents and backstories of Mike’s recordings and experiences. 

Yes, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, June 21, 1975

We revisit another one of Mike’s favorite bands with this Yes performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Millard’s recording is well traveled on bootlegs like Same Old Yes Songs and Sorcerer’s Apprentice, along with numerous traded and torrented versions. This was the band’s Relayer tour which started the previous November and featured keyboard player Patrick Moraz in the place of Rick Wakeman, a change that did not prove popular with Yes fans. Wakeman did his own solo tour this year which a future Millard release will document. The Bowl show features what was the standard setlist for the tour, highlighted by songs like “Close To The Edge,” “And You And I” and “Long Distance Runaround,” plus an encore of “Roundabout” and “Sweet Dreams.” 

As Jim notes below, he and Mike had good seats for recording, but getting a great pull from the Hollywood Bowl remains tricky to this day. To the good, there are no issues with room acoustics; to the bad, sound level restrictions often mean the PA isn’t loud enough. Not surprisingly Mike the Mike overcomes this to capture an excellent recording. Previous versions of his tape have always had what I would describe as a boxy, unbalanced sound. This new transfer from Millard’s master cassettes along with a bit of mastering help improve the sound spectrum. It should be said that his 45 year old cassettes were in fragile (no pun intended) condition and needed considerable restoration to play properly. The first tape proved the most challenging so while we have upgraded the overall sound, it is possible you’ll hear differences in this new transfer from ones done decades ago. 

Here’s what Jim R recalled about Yes at the Hollywood Bowl: 

I attended the Yes concert at the Hollywood Bowl with Mike Millard on June 21st, 1975. Being a summer of ’75 concert meant I pushed Mike into the Bowl in his wheelchair. You might call this the middle of the “Wheelchair Era”: Led Zeppelin was three months before, and the Stones were the following month. I smuggled in extra D cell batteries in a fake lens case; if Mike got busted he would offer up his batteries knowing all the while I had backup. Yes was one of our favorite groups, but this tour featured Patrick Moraz on keyboards. I know he is considered an excellent musician but I and many others prefer Rick Wakeman. But what can you do?

Yes had an elaborate stage set up and an excellent sound system. Any concert at the Hollywood Bowl is magical, it is such a special venue. The band was tight as usual. We sat in Box 221, which at the time was in the 3rd row of boxes on the right side of center. Mike and I also saw them two days later at the Long Beach Arena, where we sat in the 7th row on the floor. Of course we recorded that one as well. I hope you enjoy Yes at the Hollywood Bowl as much as Mike and I did. 

Mike’s recording from the Hollywood Bowl is excellent yet one can certainly tell that it is an outdoor recording as it does have the occasional swoosh of sound and is just a tiny bit thin sounding, this is taken directly from Mike’s actual master tapes so it gets no better than this. It is an extremely clear and detailed recording with excellent balance and a wonderful range of frequencies. There are two bootlegs that feature a portion of this concert, the vinyl title Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Idle Mind Productions IMP1100) and the CD title The White Album (Rarities & Few TKCD-1015). The only complete version of this concert was Same Old Yessongs (Highland HL 470/471), the title I used for comparison. When I compare this title to the Same Old Yessongs I find it to be an excellent upgrade. First off the Highland is a bit louder, flatter sounding with more tape hiss. This new title from Wardour is crisp and clean and sounds significantly better. The restoration work briefly noted in the torrent liner notes has not only preserved Mike’s recording but now we actually get a much better feel for the ambiance and feel of Mike and Jim’s position. Overall, like a layer of tarnish has been removed with a clean piece underneath. 

Mike was close to the action and with his excellent equipment the focus is the music and just a bit of audience directly near him. This new transfer has a wonderful natural analog sound, one can fully hear and appreciate the interplay between the musicians and I hear more detail I did not hear on the Highland title, The Gates Of Delirium being one such song. Perhaps the best way to gauge the event is during the acoustic set, a few rabid screams but mostly quiet appreciation of the music, and musicians. For myself, this concert is the only complete recording from the summer of 1975 in my collection, I have the Ypsilanti and Reading boots, both are sadly incomplete so this title is special and I hope Mike’s Long Beach recording comes soon so I can add it to my collection. 

If you have not guessed, I really enjoy the Relayer album and the short Patrick Moraz period, my user name is taken from this excellent album. Certainly the most Jazz influenced record. Like many of my Yes reviews, during initial listens I look over the excellent Forgotten Yesterdays site, the reviews for the summer 1975 are largely positive with most speaking of their pure enjoyment of the music played, a feeling one certainly gets from listening to Mike’s recording. Again, follow the link to Gerard’s review of this concert. 

The packaging is typical for Virtuoso, full color inserts adorned with live shots of the band super imposed over Relayer graphics, visually beautiful. Picture CDs, numbered stickers, all in all a very nice package in which to encompass this recording. An excellent upgrade to the old Highland title, this coupled with the excellent performance make this an easy recommendation for not only Yes fans, but Millard enthusiasts as well. 

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