Los Angeles 1977 Mike Millard 1st Gen (ZION-142)
Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA, USA – October 3, 1977
(76:00) Lose Again, That’ll Be The Day, Blue Bayou, Silver Threads and Golden Needles, Willin’, Faithless Love, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, When Will I Be Loved, Crazy, Poor Pitiful Me, Desperado, Love Me Tender, Simple Man Simple Dream, Love Is A Rose, Someone To Lay Down Beside Me, Band Introductions, Tumbling Dice, You’re No Good, Heart Like A Wheel, Heatwave
This was a most curious purchase for me, I was intrigued with the original torrent when I saw it on a well known tracker. The collective known as JEMS are archiving a series of recordings made by master taper Mike Millard, who is most known for taping high quality recordings of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes, and The Rolling Stones. This series by JEMS focuses on recordings done by Mike but were not attributed to him, many of these recordings are taken from 1st Gen cassette copies. Even more exiting is the tapes are provided by a close friend of the late taper, each torrent gives background of the concert and remembrances of the event. I found this information very interesting and thought I would share it here:
JEMS is ecstatic to reignite to our Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone series, presenting recordings made by legendary taper Mike Millard, AKA Mike the MICrophone, best known for his masters of Led Zeppelin done in and around LA circa 1975-77. For further details on how some tapes in this series came to be lost and found again, as well as JEMS’ history with Mike Millard, please refer to the notes in Vol. One.
This Linda Ronstadt concert is the first of many previously unknown, unattributed and/or uncirculated Millard recordings provided to JEMS by Jim R, who was Mike’s partner in crime for many years. “I am the one who pushed Mike in the wheelchair,” Jim writes. “Mike and I attended at least 200 concerts after meeting at a Yes show in 1974. I feel lucky to have had Mike as a best friend during that time.” Jim helped Mike smuggle in gear, stymie security and score the best seats for taping, all while shooting photographs himself at most of the shows Mike recorded. Beyond concerts, he was a frequent guest at the Millard dinner table in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Incredibly, this show is one of 12 sold out concerts Ronstadt performed at the Universal Amphitheater in 1977 on her tour in support of Simple Dreams. Do the math and that means Linda sold something on the order of 60,000 tickets in the LA market. I knew Ronstadt was a huge star in the ‘70s, but I had no idea she was that big.
The performance is terrific and tight (if a bit short), with all of Linda’s big hits in play and tremendous backing from her touring band that featured Waddy Wachtel, Dan Dugmore, Kenny Edwards, Andrew Gold, Don Grolnick and Rick Marotta. The tape could be missing one or two encore songs, but some set lists later in the tour end the show with “Heatwave” as this show does, so it is equally possible this is the complete performance. Jim R says he and Mike recorded the show from the pit after scoring four tickets for the final night of the 12-show run.
Here’s what Jim recalls about that night:
Mike and I heard on the day of the concert that the Universal box office was going to release choice seats an hour or so before the show. These are tickets the venue and promoter hold onto to satisfy ticket demand within the music industry. Me, Mike and two friends piled into Mike’s car, arrived at Universal in the afternoon and put our names on a list at the box office. Sure enough, we scored four orchestra pit tickets: one in the first row and three in the third. I took the front row seat and shot photographs, until I was politely asked to stop. The third row tickets went to Mike, who took the middle seat, bookended by our friends. The show was awesome. Watching Linda perform, I “fell in love” several times. The recording turned out excellent and was surely enhanced by our close proximity to the stage. Even some of the more delicate instruments are captured with amazing clarity.
The resulting recording is pure Millard, up close, clear as a bell and brimming with masterfully captured on-stage energy. Samples provided. Mike dubbed off a copy of the show for Jim and labeled it in his inimitable style which you’ll see in the artwork.
Jim R told us a lot of great Millard stories which we will share over time. What is absolutely clear from our conversations with him and other recent research is that there are many Millard recordings in circulation that are not attributed to him. Jim’s collection of verified Millard first gens will confirm longtime speculation about some particular extant recordings of LA shows being unconfirmed Millard tapes. We expect those transfers to be upgrades to circulating versions and there are uncirculated recordings as well. In other words, a lot to look forward to if you’re a fan of Mike Millard’s work.
JEMS is thrilled to partner with Jim R to release more of Millard’s fantastic work and to help set the record straight about the man himself. It’s been 25 years since he passed away, and the Internet version of his story is incomplete and often inaccurate. We hope our efforts will honor and celebrate the man and the music he so brilliantly preserved. Thank you, Jim, for trusting us to do so. Tip o’ the cap as well to mjk5510, who continues to keep the JEMS factory operating at peak efficiency and to Exit Club for taking the Millard journey with us.
Lastly, a toast to the late, great Mike the MICrophone and to finding more lost tapes. May he rest in peace.
BK for JEMS
As the notes say, the sound quality is excellent, full spectrum of sound frequencies with near perfect balance, I say near perfect as they were so close that Linda’s vocals are a little low due to her voice going through the PA while Millard picks up actual instruments from the stage amplification. During the music it is not an issue but it is difficult to hear her between song comments and introductions. Like most Millard recordings, there is just a bit of tape hiss as well, nothing to be discouraged about, this is a superb recording and a great listen.
In the days of auto tune and studio magic, it’s easy for average talent singers to sound good, this live recording of Linda will knock your socks off, her vocals go from quiet and tender, to loud and soaring, she hits a large range effortlessly. The set is like a greatest hits with several songs from her then most recent album making the cut, most certainly her Billboard Top 5 hit Blue Bayou is one of them. Her backing band is equally superb, they provide the ability to play Rock, Pop, and Country with ease giving Linda the perfect canvas to paint with, so to speak. A few highlights for me start with her cover of Little Feat’s Willin’ introduced as a truck drivers song, Patsy Cline’s Crazy, and Elvis’ Love Me Tender. She hits the Rock songs with powerful renditions of When Will I Be Loved and You’re No Good, and the encore of Martha and the Vandellas Motown hit Heatwave is Pop goodness.
The packaging is nice, full color inserts wonderfully adorned with pictures of Linda in what looks to be a boy scout uniform. A picture disc, and let’s not forget the sticker is also included. Nice to see the folks at JEMS providing these recordings and giving Mike The Mic his just due, would be nice to see a full list of the concerts he recorded. A nice release by Zion, for those into softer Rock, a title worth considering.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)