L.A. Forum 1974 Mike Millard Master Tapes (Virtuoso 439/440)
The Forum, Inglewood, CA, USA – March 18, 1974
Disc 1 (63:22) Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, And You And I, Close To The Edge, The Revealing Science Of God
Disc 2 (45:17) The Ancient, Ritual
Mike Millard first recorded Yes during the band’s tour for Tales From Topographic Oceans at the Forum in Los Angeles. Based upon his original list of concerts he recorded, this is only the fifth time he made a field recording and was done using his original taping rig, a Sony TC-152SD cassette recorder with Shure microphones. Mike was certainly close to the action and while his early recordings do not easily compare to recordings made with his Nakamichi 550 deck and AKG 451E mics, they are actually excellent recordings in their own right. Mike’s recording is incomplete missing the tale end of The Ancient as well as the encores of Roundabout and Starship Trooper, one of these issues has been rectified.
Mike’s first Yes recording is an excellent recording, perfectly balanced with all instruments and vocals coming clear in the mix. It does have just a hint of tape hiss as one would expect and small amounts of distortion are present during the very percussive segments. This version comes from a DAT clone of Mike’s master cassette done by Mike’s friend Jim R in the early 2000s with the JEMS Collective doing pitch adjusting and a bit of sonic cleaning to present the best version of this recording. JEMS has also addressed the cut at the end of The Ancient. Mike also recorded Yes the following night in Long Beach with JEMS using the missing part of the song from the next night, the timbre is identical and you would never know it is even there. To my knowledge there are only two releases of this concert, the first as part of the Tarantura The Word Is Love (Tarantura TCDY-1~5) box set and Tales From Great Western (Virtuoso 038/039). For comparisons I will use the latter since I do not have the Tarantura box, based upon Gerard’s reviews of both titles, they sound identical. When compared to the Virtuoso title one can instantly hear a nice improvement in both clarity and depth. This new version sounds like it has life breathed into it, the instruments have not only depth but separation, the Virtuoso sounds rather flat and one dimensional in comparison.
As Gerard also notes in his review, Yes was close to the end of the American tour in support of Tales, there were only six dates remaining after this one. The Remembering was dropped in late February and replaced with Roundabout and Starship Trooper making it a bit more fan friendly. Yes did get flack from the press about the self indulgent new record and for good reason, Tales From Topographic Oceans is a lot to take in, their egos were certainly a bit bruised. By this time in the tour they had been playing the new numbers for a couple months and the music was gelling better in the live setting. The set list for this tour was amazing kicking off with the complete Close To The Edge record, this is high octane Yesmusic at its best. Siberian Khatru is the opening song, Steve Howe’s playing is just incredible, his leads are fast and fluent with the whole band being extremely tight, like many English bands, invigorated by the warm Southern California weather.
As complex as a piece of music like Close To The Edge is, the band make it sound effortless. Their collective unison is perfect, again Steve Howe’s playing is well captured and stands out instantly. Also Chris Squire’s playing is its equal, melodic but very percussive, to have seen Yes in their 70’s prime certainly must have blown minds, it blows mine just listening to recordings like these. Jon Anderson gives a wonderful intro to The Revealing Science of God, “We’d like to carry on with some of the music from our new album Tales From Topographic Oceans. We got in to the side of doing some music based on the four scriptures from the Soundscript language, which is the first language, as we are told, of this planet. The four scriptures are The Revealing, The Remembering, The Ancient, The Ritual. Side one is entitled The Revealing Science Of God. Hope you like it.” This intro would be the longest of the evening and is really like an introduction to the entire Tales portion of the show.
What I find interesting about recordings from this stage of the tour is that Rick Wakeman is superb, he is spot on and adds flourishes with ease, perhaps he could see the end in sight. Nonetheless the three Tales pieces are played with a certain vigor, the band as a whole had certainly gotten to a comfort level with the music as has the audience, they respond positively to the music, usually when people are bored they talk, and no real chatter is heard here, just enthusiastic response. Only bummer about this recording is that the last two songs were not recorded as Yes was having a really good evening.
The packaging is typical for Virtuoso, full color inserts intersected with official Tales graphics, combine this with a numbered sticker and pictures on the discs themselves, all housed in a slim lined jewel case. Thanks go to JIM R and the JEMS team for getting this music out to the fans, Mike Millard left a huge legacy and it is nice to see it honored in a way that serves the music. This is a nice upgrade and a great release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)