BOOTLEG: Robert Plant, San Diego, CA 9 August 1990 (Mike Millard Master Cassettes via JEMS The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 35 1644 Edition) – TTTTT

27 Giu

ITALIAN / ENGLISH

Di Mike Millard su questo blog ne abbiamo parlato più volte, amante del rock proveniente dalla west coast americana, dal 1973 al 1992 registrò parecchi concerti tenutisi in quell’area. Lo fece con una strumentazione di qualità, per quei tempi davvero notevole, portandola all’interno delle arene in questione usando diversi stratagemmi (a volte anche fingendosi disabile e quindi su una sedia a rotelle). Le sue sono dunque registrazioni audience, cioè prese dal pubblico, ma di una qualità micidiale; non è un un caso che ancora oggi – tra il giro di appassionati – siano considerate tra i documenti migliori per quanto riguarda l’epoca d’oro della musica rock. Sì perché con le registrazione audience si ha l’idea esatta di cosa fosse andare ad un concerto rock, la performance dell’artista catturato nella sua essenza più pura: l’umore e le scosse emotive del pubblico, la musica messa su nastro senza artifici (e dunque senza le modifiche e i trucchetti presenti nei dischi dal vivo ufficiali), i commenti dei fans che a tratti finivano sul nastro. La fortuna ha voluto che i LZ fossero tra i suoi gruppi preferiti e, ad esempio, le sue registrazione di alcuni dei sei concerti tenuti nel 1977 a Los Angeles sono per tutti noi testimonianze preziosissime. Nel 1994 Millard decise di togliersi la vita, decisione che non ci permettiamo di giudicare e quindi tralasciamo di commentare gli abissi di dolore a cui deve essere andato incontro. Per moltissimo tempo le sue cassette rimasero archiviate nella sua stanza a casa di sua madre, le registrazioni che circolavano provenivano infatti da copie che lo stesso Millard aveva fatto per amici e altri collezionisti. Successe poi che sua madre finalmente affidò ad amici intimi di suo figlio le tante cassette (si parla di 280 concerti registrati) in modo che potessero essere trasferite e quindi salvate su DAT. Sotto all’articolo riporto (oltre al testo che accompagna la registrazione di RP di cui tra poco parleremo) tutta la lunga storia in caso qualcuno fosse interessato. Per chiudere questo breve riassunto, quando si pensava che i master originali di Millard fossero andati persi, ecco che vengono ritrovati, rimasterizzati e messi gratuitamente in circolo da generosi collezionisti e amanti del rock come noi. E’ dunque doveroso mandare un pensiero a Mike Millard perché grazie ai suoi nastri il rock si mantiene vivo e noi possiamo ancora illuderci di vivere in prima persona i momenti più esaltanti della musica che amiamo.

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Dopo la fine dei LZ, RP decide di dar vita ad una carriera solista. Il primo e il secondo album diventano dischi di platino in USA (un milione o più di copie vendute). Lo stesso accade per l’EP degli Honeydrippers nel 1984 (album dedicato al rock and roll degli albori). Il terzo album (1985) non va al di là del disco d’oro (500.000 copie vendute, anche se pare raggiunga le 750.000) poi arriva, nel 1987, Now And Zen. Completato con il terzo album il tragitto che porta al distanziamento assoluto dai LZ, Robert torna con una nuova formazione e un nuovo approccio. Al di là dei discutibili suoni anni ottanta, l’album non è male, contiene alcune belle canzoni e riporta Robert al grande successo (3.000.000 di copie vendite solo in America). Manic Nirvana viene pubblicato nel 1990, buon disco di rock moderno, sarà l’ultimo lavoro di RP a diventare disco di platino (se escludiamo i dischi fatti in collaborazione con Page e con Alison Krauss). Ebbi modo di vedere una data (Firenze) del tour che seguì, è quindi un piacere avere a disposizione una registrazione di Mike Millard tratta dal tour di Manic Nirvana.

La potente e suggestiva Watching You (da Manic Nirvana 1990) apre lo show, la qualità audio – considerando che stiamo parlando di una registrazione audience – è spettacolare. La voce di Plant è chiara, sicura e piena di chilometraggio blues. Tramite vocalizzi che provengono da Friends (da Led Zeppelin III 1970) arriva Nobody’s Fault But Mine  (da Presence dei LZ 1976) e con essa torna in vita il possente approccio del gruppo che fu. Robert canta benissimo, il gruppo non ha abbastanza blues in corpo per poter competere con la versione originale, ma la rilettura modernista si fa ascoltare comunque. L’assolo di chitarra di Doug Boyle non è niente male davvero.

Robert al quel tempo era fissato con lo psychobilly e Billy’s Revenge (da Now And Zen 1988) ne è una testimonianza, personalmente non ho mai amato il genere e quel tipo di pezzi ma stavolta finisco per ascoltarlo con piacere, sarà l’ottima qualità audio … in cuffia a buon volume questo concerto è uno sballo. Tie Dye On The Highway (da Manic Nirvana 1990) è condotta dalla feroce chitarra di Doug Boyle. Stupisce un po’ Robert, all’epoca cantava in maniera sublime, non lo ricordavo così in forma. Bello il momento con la chitarra “blues” di Boyle e l’armonica di RP. Il pubblico è caldissimo.

La bella In The Mood (da The Priciple Of Moments 1983) riporta la melodia al centro dell’attenzione, e anche qui ottimo assolo di Doug Boyle. Chris Blackwell alla batteria e Charlie Jones al basso fanno un gran lavoro. Robert stuzzica il pubblico accennando That’s The Way (da Led Zeppelin III 1970). Arriva quindi il tempo di battere i sentieri che gli altri non prendono: No Quarter (da House Of The Holy 1973 dei LZ). Non appena Phil Johnstone introduce al piano i primi ricami il pubblico “va giù di melone” come diciamo qui in Emilia. Per quanto la versione sia più che degna e fresca, non si può non notare una certa rigidità ritmica, d’altra parte Bonham e (John Paul) Jones erano di altri universi. Liar’s Dance (da Manic Nirvana 1990) è il quadretto in accordatura aperta (dove tra l’altro RP accenna Gallows Pole da LZ III 1970 e Stairway To Heaven da LZ IV 1971) a cui segue Going To California (da Led Zeppelin IV 1971). Pubblico in visibilio.

Little By Little (da Shaken ‘n’ Stirred 1985) proviene da un album difficile e non proprio riuscito ma è un pezzo che ho sempre amato molto. Bel groove e sviluppo di rilievo. Nirvana (da Manic Nirvana 1990) è un brano che non gradisco e continuo a trovare insipido.

Immigrant Song (da LZ III 1970) rimette in carreggiata il concerto, versione convincente suonata nella tonalità originale (FA#), ben centrato l’assolo modernista di Boyle. Hurting Kind (da Manic Nirvana 1990), singolo designato del disco allora appena uscito, inizia con una lunga introduzione per poi partire con il dovuto ritmo scatenato. Nel mezzo della canzone Robert stuzzica i presenti con gli “oh my jesus” presi da In My Time Of Dying (da Physical Graffiti dei LZ 1975) Ancora da sottolineare la qualità sonora, registrazioni audience di questo calibro sono una meraviglia.

Robert saluta e quando torna per il bis, prima del rush finale, è il delizioso momento di Ship Of Fools (da Now And Zen 1988). Non appena Robert inizia a cantare il pubblico gli dimostra un grande, grande, grande affetto. Wearing And Tearing (da Coda 1982 dei LZ) e una delle outtakes del 1978 tratta dalle sessions di In Through The Out Door del 1979 dei LZ. Rock serratissimo e indiavolato. Il gruppo se ne va e quando rientra se ne parte con Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (da LZ II 1969). Interpretazione coinvolgente, grande assolo aggiuntivo di Doug Boyle. Si chiude con Tall Cool One (da Now And Zen 1988), una sorta di Train Kept A-Rollin’ modello anni ottanta. I campionamenti presenti nel pezzi riportano prepotentemente in pista i Led Zeppelin. Verso la fine Robert e il gruppo citano (al di là dei sampler) The Ocean/Black Dog/Custard Pie ei LZ.

Registrazione dunque stupenda, certo non avrà la qualità di un disco dal vivo ufficiale ben registrato col multitraccia, ma il suono del rock che ti ribolle nella pancia è catturato in modo perfetto. Gran bootleg dunque, gran concerto, grande prova di Robert e dei ragazzi … allora era ancora il golden god e dava la paga ai gruppi tipo Whitesnake in quegli anni ormai annegati nel metal radiofonico americano.

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(broken)ENGLISH

We have talked about Mike Millard on this blog few times, he was a rock music lover from the US west coast and from 1973 to 1992 he recorded several concerts held in that area. He did it with quality equipment, for those times truly remarkable, bringing it inside the arenas in question using different stratagems (sometimes even pretending to be disabled and therefore in a wheelchair). His are therefore audience recordings, that is, taken by the public, but of a deadly quality; it is no coincidence that even today – among the circle of fans – they are considered among the best documents regarding the golden age of rock music. Yes, because with audience recording you have the exact idea of ​​what it was like to go to a rock concert, the artist’s performance captured in its purest essence: the mood and emotional shocks of the audience, the music put on tape without artifice (and therefore without the edits and the tricks present in the official live records), the comments of the fans who sometimes ended up on the tape. Luckily LZ were among his favorite bands and, for example, his recordings of some of the six concerts held in 1977 in Los Angeles are precious testimonies for all of us. In 1994 Millard decided to take his own life, a decision that we do not allow ourselves to judge and therefore we neglect to comment on the abysses of pain that he must have gone through. For a very long time his cassettes remained archived in his room at his mother’s house, the records circulating in fact came from copies that Millard himself had made for friends and other collectors. Then it happened that his mother finally entrusted the many tapes (we are talking about 280 recorded concerts) to close friends of his son so that they could be transferred and then saved on DAT. Under the article I carry over (in addition to the text that accompanies the registration of RP which we will shortly talk about) the whole long story in case anyone is interested. To close this short summary, when it was thought that the original Millard masters had been lost, here they are found, remastered and put into free circulation by generous collectors and rock lovers like us. It is therefore a duty to send a thought to Mike Millard because thanks to his tapes rock remains alive and we can still delude ourselves to experience firsthand the most exciting moments of the music we love.

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After the end of LZ, RP decides to start a solo career. The first and second albums become platinum in the USA (one million or more copies sold). The same happens for the Honeydrippers EP in 1984 (album dedicated to the early rock and roll). The third album (1985) does not go beyond the golden disc (500,000 copies sold, although it seems it reached 750,000) then arrives, in 1987, Now And Zen. Completed with the third album the journey that leads to absolute distancing from the LZ, Robert returns with a new line-up and a new approach. Beyond the questionable eighties sounds, the album is not bad, it contains some beautiful songs and brings Robert back to great success (3,000,000 copies sold only in America). Manic Nirvana is released in 1990, it is a good modern rock record, it will be the last RP work to become platinum (if we exclude records made in collaboration with Page and with Alison Krauss). I was able to see a date (Florence) of the tour that followed, so it is a pleasure to have a recording of Mike Millard available from the Manic Nirvana tour.

The powerful and suggestive Watching You (from Manic Nirvana 1990) opens the show, the audio quality – considering that we are talking about an audience recording – is spectacular. Plant’s voice is clear, confident and full of blues mileage. Through vocalizations that come from Friends (from Led Zeppelin III 1970) comes Nobody’s Fault But Mine (from Presence of LZ 1976) and with it the mighty approach of the group that came back to life. Robert sings very well, the new group does not have enough blues in the body to compete with the original version, but the modernist reinterpretation is good anyway. Doug Boyle’s guitar solo isn’t bad at all.

Robert at the time was set with psychobilly and Billy’s Revenge (from Now And Zen 1988) is a testimony to this, personally I have never loved the genre and that type of pieces but this time I end up listening to it with pleasure, it may be the excellent audio quality … in headphones at high volume this concert is a blast. Tie Dye On The Highway (from Manic Nirvana 1990) is conducted by Doug Boyle’s ferocious guitar. Robert at the time sang in a sublime way, I didn’t remember him so fit. Nice moment with Boyle’s “blues” guitar and RP harmonica. The audience is hot.

The beautiful In The Mood (from The Priciple Of Moments 1983) brings the melody back to the center of attention, and here too I must underline Doug Boyle’s excellent solo. Chris Blackwell on drums and Charlie Jones on bass do a great job. Robert teases the audience by mentioning That’s The Way (from Led Zeppelin III 1970). So the time comes to choose the path where no-one goes: No Quarter (from LZ’s House Of The Holy 1973). As soon as Phil Johnstone introduces the first embroideries to the piano, the audience “goes down of melon” as we say here in Emilia, meaning going crazy/out of their heads. Although the version is more than worthy and fresh, one cannot fail to notice a certain rhythmic rigidity, on the other hand Bonham and (John Paul) Jones were from other universes. Liar’s Dance (from Manic Nirvana 1990) is the lovely little picture in open tuning (where, among other things, RP mentions Gallows Pole from LZ III 1970 and Stairway To Heaven from LZ IV 1971) and it is followed by Going To California (from Led Zeppelin IV 1971) . The Audience is in raptures.

Little By Little (from Shaken ‘n’ Stirred 1985) comes from a difficult and not quite successful album but it is a piece that I have always loved very much. Nice groove and nice musical development. Nirvana (from Manic Nirvana 1990) is a song that I don’t like and I continue to find bland.

Immigrant Song (from LZ III 1970) puts the concert back on track, a convincing version played in the original key (F# / ), well centered on Boyle’s modernist solo. Hurting Kind (from Manic Nirvana 1990), the single designated of the disc then just released, begins with a long vocals introduction and then starts with the due unleashed rhythm. In the middle of the song Robert teases those present with the “oh my jesus” taken from In My Time Of Dying (from Physical Graffiti of LZ 1975). I have to repeat myself: audience recordings of this caliber are a marvel.

Robert says goodbye and when he returns for the encore, before the final rush, it’s time for the delicious moment of Ship Of Fools (from Now And Zen 1988). As soon as Robert starts singing the audience shows him a great, great, great affection. Wearing And Tearing (from Coda 1982 by LZ) is one of the outtakes of 1978 taken from the sessions of In Through The Out Door by LZ 1979 . Tight and frenzied rock music. The group leaves and when it comes back it dive into Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (from LZ II 1969). Engaging  interpretation, great additional solo by Doug Boyle. The show closes with Tall Cool One (from Now And Zen 1988), a sort of Train Kept A-Rollin ‘eighties model. The samples in the pieces forcefully bring Led Zeppelins back on track. Towards the end Robert and the group quote (beyond the samplers) The Ocean / Black Dog / Custard Pie.

So, it’s a wonderful recording, it certainly won’t have the quality of an official live album well recorded with multitrack, but the sound of the rock that boils in your belly is captured here perfectly. Great bootleg therefore, great concert, great performance of Robert and the boys … then he was still the golden god and he could won easily on groups like Whitesnake that in those years were drowning in American radio mainstream and blatant metal.

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Robert Plant, Sports Arena, San Diego, CA. August 9, 1990
Mike Millard Master Cassettes via JEMS
The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 35, 1644 Edition

Recording Gear: AKG 451E Microphones (CK-1 cardioid capsules) > Nakamichi 550 Cassette Recorder

Transfer: Mike Millard Master Cassettes > Nakamichi RX-505 (azimuth adjustment; Dolby On) > Sound Devices USBPre 2 > Audacity 2.0 capture > iZotope RX6 > iZotope Ozone 6 > MBIT+ resample to 16/44 > xACT 2.39 > FLAC

01 Watching You
02 Nobody’s Fault But Mine
03 Billy’s Revenge
04 Tie Dye On The Highway
05 In The Mood
06 No Quarter
07 Liar’s Dance
08 Going To California
09 Little By Little
10 Nirvana
11 Immigrant Song
12 Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)
13 Ship Of Fools
14 Wearing And Tearing
15 Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)
16 Tall Cool One

Known Faults: None

Introduction to the Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Series

Welcome to JEMS’ 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 Los Angeles circa 1975-77. For the complete details on how tapes in this series came to be lost and found again, as well as JEMS’ long history with Mike Millard, please refer to the notes in Vol. One: http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=500680.

Until 2020, the Lost and Found series presented fresh transfers of previously unavailable first-generation copies made by Mike himself for friends like Stan Gutoski of JEMS, Jim R, Bill C. and Barry G. These sources were upgrades to circulating copies and in most instances marked the only time verified first generation Millard sources had been directly digitized in the torrent era.

That all changed with the discovery of many of Mike Millard’s original master tapes.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Millard’s master cassettes, long rumored to be destroyed or lost, have been found. Not all of them but many, and with them a much more complete picture has emerged of what Millard recorded between his first show in late 1973 and his last in early 1992.

The reason the rediscovery of his master tapes is such a revelation is that we’ve been told for decades they were gone. Internet myths suggest Millard destroyed his master tapes before taking his own life, an imprudent detail likely concocted based on the assumption that because his master tapes never surfaced and Mike’s mental state was troubled he would do something rash WITH HIS LIFE’S WORK. There’s also a version of the story where Mike’s family dumps the tapes after he dies. Why would they do that?

The truth is Mike’s masters remained in his bedroom for many years after his death in 1994. We know at least a few of Millard’s friends and acquaintances contacted his mother Lia inquiring about the tapes at the time to no avail. But in the early 2000s, longtime Millard friend Rob S was the one she knew and trusted enough to preserve Mike’s work.

The full back story on how Mike’s master tapes were saved can be found in the notes for Vol. 18 Pink Floyd, which was the first release in our series transferred from Millard’s original master tapes:

http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=667745&hit=1
http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=667750&hit=1

Robert Plant, Sports Arena, San Diego, CA, August 9, 1990

Our weekly dip into the Millard archive carries on with Mike’s master cassettes of the San Diego stop on the Manic Nirvana tour in support of the album of the same name. As we know, Led Zeppelin topped the list of Mike’s favorite artists and he documented many solo shows post 1980 by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Speaking of Zep, Plant’s choice of songs to include in the set from his former band include two great picks that Zeppelin never performed live. The first is the LZII ditty “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman),” which I’ve always found delightful. It is performed with straightforward charm.

The second is the brilliant In Through The Out Door outtake “Wearing and Tearing,” which legend has it was briefly considered for a single release around the time of Knebworth ’79. It’s a high-energy stormer that rides a great riff and, in my opinion, would have been a welcome addition to ITTOD, instead of being released after Bonham’s death on Coda. While I’m on the subject, “Wearing and Tearing” and “Ozone Baby” are both highly underrated and “Darlene” (the third outtake of the ’79 trio) isn’t too shabby either. I genuinely love all three.

The rest of the set smartly mixes Manic Nirvana songs with the best of Plant’s solo career and a few extra Zeppelin nuggets. I particularly like RP’s vocals on “In The Mood” and “Ship of Fools.”

As we’ve previously discussed, the Sports Arena in San Diego is not the Sydney Opera House in terms of acoustics, but Millard’s taping location seems to be ideal on this night and he gets a very fine, close capture without a lot of the hall muddying things up. Samples provided.

Neither Jim, Rob nor Barry were along for the ride this time, so we don’t have a first-person account to share. We do know Mike recorded the opening act, Alannah Myles, the Canadian hard rock singer you might remember from her hit song, “Black Velvet.” He also recorded Plant’s show one night later in Irvine.

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JEMS is proud to partner with Rob, Jim R and Barry G to release Millard’s historic recordings and to help set the record straight about the man himself.

We can’t thank Rob enough for reconnecting with Jim and putting his trust in our Millard reissue campaign. He kept these precious tapes under wraps for two decades, but once Rob learned of our methods and stewardship, he agreed to contribute the Millard DATs and cassettes to the program.

Three cheers to mjk5510 for his post-production work on this. And to Goody his pitch inspection and beyond.

Lastly, cheers to the late, great Mike the MICrophone. His work never ceases to impress. May he rest in peace.

BK for JEMS

 

Welcome to a truly extraordinary new chapter of JEMS’ 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: http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=500680

To date the Lost and Found series has presented fresh transfers of previously unavailable first-generation copies made by Mike himself for friends like Stan Gutoski of JEMS, Jim R and Barry G. These sources were upgrades to circulating copies, and in most instances marked the first time verified first generation Millard sources had been directly digitized in the torrent era.

Now, we are ecstatic to present what had been previously unthinkable, unimaginable, perhaps even impossible: a direct, high-resolution transfer from Millard’s original master tapes.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Millard’s master cassettes, long rumored to be destroyed or lost, have been found. Not all of them, but many, and with them a much more complete picture has emerged of what Millard recorded between his first show in late 1973 and his last in early 1992.

The reason the rediscovery of his master tapes is such a revelation is that we’ve been told for decades they were long gone. Internet myths suggest Millard destroyed his master tapes before taking his own life, an imprudent detail likely concocted based on assumptions that because the master tapes had never surfaced and Mike’s mental state was troubled, he would do something that rash WITH HIS LIFE’S WORK. There’s also a version of the story where Mike’s family dumps the tapes after he dies.

The truth is, Mike’s masters remained in his bedroom for many years after his death in 1994. We know at least a few of Millard’s friends and acquaintances contacted his mother inquiring about the tapes after his death to no avail. But in the early 2000s, longtime Millard friend Rob S was the one she knew and trusted enough to preserve Mike’s work.

Here’s Rob’s account of how Millard’s master tapes were saved:

After Mike left us, I visited his mom Lia occasionally, usually around the holidays. She’d talk about the grandkids and show me pictures. She had no one to help out around the house so I did some minor improvements like fixing a kitchen shelf that collapsed and another time a gate that hadn’t worked for years.

After a few visits, I explained to Lia how the tapes were metal, up to 25 years old already and would eventually deteriorate. She agreed to let me take the tapes and make copies. We went into Mike’s bedroom and it was exactly like I remembered it when I was there years before. I loaded up every tape I could find and went to work copying them. Oldest first, some requiring “surgery.”

Months later when I was done copying, I compared what I had copied to a list Mike had compiled of his masters and realized there were many shows missing. I returned the tapes and asked Lia if we could see if there were any more somewhere else in the house. We went into a back bedroom and found a bunch of boxes filled with more original master tapes. I loaded them up, thanked Lia and left. This was the last time I would see her. I copied the rest of the tapes and stored the masters in a cool dry place until late last year when Jim R. reached out. We had known each other through Mike. After speaking with Jim, and later BK who had tracked him down, I knew their partnership was the “right way” to get this music out to everyone who wanted it, and I’m sure Mike would have agreed.

Initially, Rob copied a large batch of Millard’s master cassettes to DAT and returned them to the house. The second time around, he was given a large portion of the cassette collection, different from what he had copied to DAT.

The first round of DAT transfers features some of Millard’s most famous recordings of Led Zeppelin, ELP, the Rolling Stones and Jethro Tull. The second traunch of actual cassette masters includes his captures of Yes, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Rush and Pink Floyd.

As exciting as it is to access Millard’s masters of the shows we know and love, there are many new recordings in both collections from artist like Elton John, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Eric Clapton, The Who, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Guns N’ Roses, Linda Ronstadt, David Bowie, the Moody Blues, U2 and more.

Even with an information gap in the mid ‘80s when Millard was surely taping but there is no tape or written evidence as to what he captured, we have now confirmed some 280 shows Millard did record. Of those, there are master cassettes for approximately 100 shows, DATs off masters of another 75 and first generation analog copies for 20-25. Together, that nearly quadruples the number of extant Millard recordings. In the coming months we will release more amazing shows from the recovered treasure, some familiar, some entirely new. But we had to start somewhere.

And so we begin this new era of Mike the MIC master tapes with one of the most beloved recordings in the Millard canon: his incredible capture of Pink Floyd on night four of the band’s five show stand at the Sports Arena in LA on the Wish You Were Here tour. This recording has been bootlegged and circulated in many forms, most recently from what are claimed to be (and in fairness probably are) first-generation sources that sound excellent. In fact, we were preparing to post Jim R’s first generation cassettes made by Mike (which have particularly brilliant cassette art) before this fortunate turn of events.

Mike’s master recording is sublime, a sonic marvel not merely for what it captures from the stage but for how little the audience can be heard, save for when you want to hear them. It is full, rich and close in a way that makes the argument for why the best audience recordings can be more satisfying than a soundboard tape. Mike used TDK KR 90 cassettes, an early chrome tape which would soon be rebranded to the more familiar SA 90.

The tapes were recorded Dolby on, but for this edition transferred Dolby off, as Mike did himself when he made copies for friends. The sonic signature should be familiar to those who have done close listening to the best first-generation sourced versions (like buffalofloyd’s update of Sigma’s Definitive Millard), but hopefully that title more accurately applies to this version.

To our ears, the Millard master transfer is everything you love about the extant recording and more: lower lows, clearer highs, less hiss. It is balanced, warm and immersive. We’ve made the recording available in both consumer friendly 1644 and audiophile 2496 editions, with mastering at a bare minimum to let the pure power of the capture shine through. Samples provided.

Millard’s dear friend Jim R was with Mike at the show and shot the original unpublished photos we are fortunate to include with this release. Here’s what he recalls:

Mike and I attended the Pink Floyd concert on April 26, 1975. I pushed him in the wheelchair.

It was the fourth night of a five night stand at the LA Sports Arena. Due to Pink Floyd’s popularity, tickets were in extremely high demand and expensive. As a result, we attended only the one night. Since the LA Sports Arena was owned by LA County, all of the choice seats were controlled by downtown ticket brokers. Fortunately, we were in tight with several of them and had our choice of where to sit.

Ahead of time, we heard about the high quality sound system Pink Floyd was using and that it would be a Quadrophonic setup. Knowing that, we decided on seats a little further back than normal, in the 16th row in order to pickup some of the Quad sound. Indeed it was a fantastic sound system with PA stacks in each corner of the floor.

What really makes this show one of the most memorable of the 200 or so concerts Mike and I attended together was the fact that there were over 500 drug busts made during Pink Floyd’s LA run (detailed in a big LA Times story about the crackdown). Regardless, we were able to sneak in a Nakamichi 550 cassette recorder, which is the size of the yellow pages phone book and nearly 15 pounds. Amazingly, people got busted for a couple joints and somehow we smuggle in a huge tape deck and get away with it. What a rush!

The recording turned out superb and it was aided by a very polite crowd. At the very beginning of the recording Mike says “testing 123.” The lighting was on the dark side (pun intended), and since we sat 16 rows back, my pictures turned out a little on the fuzzy side. Oh well.

Meeting Jim, then Barry and ultimately connecting with Rob has added incredible new chapters to my personal Mike the MIC story that started in 1986 when I first saw a box of Millard tapes and heard stories about how he recorded. I’m lucky and grateful that we all four of us share a deep appreciation for what Mike documented over the years and the on-going belief in his mission to share the music among friends, which is why we do this.

As joyous as this initial Millard master release has been, it is bittersweet. The person who showed me that original box of Millard tapes and told me the stories was Stan Gutoski, the S in JEMS. He met Mike face to face on two occasions and the pair had a few phone calls, sharing notes on how they recorded shows, comparing gear and ultimately trading copies of their recordings. Game respecting game. During a 1992 meet up in SoCal, they even spoke about losing their fathers and hugged each other in camaraderie, something Stan never forgot.

Sadly, on Friday, January 24, 2020, Walter Stan Gutoski, passed away. He was 74.

Stan had gone into the hospital in December because of a spinal infection that severely limited his mobility. I spoke to him at the time, sharing various JEMS updates which always lifted his spirits, even as he sounded weak. He was released, but his condition didn’t improve after he left the hospital, and in mid January I got updates from his son that didn’t sound promising. Last week, his son told me Stan was back in the hospital battling pneumonia, and it was clear his health was rapidly deteriorating. I began to consider how soon I could fly up to see him.

On Thursday night, I asked if there was an opportunity to call Stan in the hospital, and his son said perhaps he could put me on speaker phone for a minute if his dad was up to it. Sensing that might not happen, I followed up with a text: “Please tell Stan I love him dearly and that we found Mike Millard’s master tapes a few weeks ago.”

His son replied, “Wow. The taper’s ‘Ark of the Covenant.’ That’s amazing. I’ll tell him.”

Mid morning the next day, Friday, his son texted, “Good morning. My dad passed away a few minutes ago.”

It was the stomach punch I knew was coming, but not this fast. Way too fast. I started crying. His son then texted:

“My brother and I and my youngest son stayed with him until 6:30 am. He never went to sleep. He kept fighting it. He was impressed about the 280 shows [Millard recorded]. He kept making me repeat the number. He wanted to know what years and what cities/venues. I guess he can just ask him now in person. [They are] hanging with Jared watching Tom Petty and George Harrison play.”

If ever there was a moment of happiness and sadness at the same time, reading that text was it. While I’m not religious, the thought of Mike Millard, Stan Gutoski and our late, great friend Jared Houser (the J in JEMS) all hanging together in heaven is something I am only too happy to believe.

JEMS is thrilled to partner with Rob, Jim R and Barry to release Millard’s historic recordings and to help set the record straight about the man himself. It has been 25 years since Mike passed away and his legend only continues to grow. Along with the tapes, Rob also had a copy of Mike’s tape list circa 1983, which details all his master tapes including his own quality rating system: Stereo-EX, Stereo-Good, Stereo-Fair and Stereo-Poor. He was a tough critic of his own work: the outstanding recording of the Rod Stewart and Faces 1975 show at the Forum only rated Good.

We can’t thank Rob S enough for reconnecting with Jim and putting his trust in our Millard reissue campaign. He has kept these precious tapes under wraps for two decades, but once he learned of our methods and stewardship, he agreed to contribute his DATs and cassettes to the program.

Our production support team also deserves credit. Thanks to Goody for giving this his stamp of pitch approval and to mjk5510 for his essential work on all JEMS projects. We can’t do it without you.

Finally, cheers to the late, great Mike the MICrophone, Jared Houser and Stan Gutoski. May they rest in peace. Can’t wait to hear the heaven tapes someday.

BK for JEMS

Info file View Info file (13.71 KB)

6 Risposte to “BOOTLEG: Robert Plant, San Diego, CA 9 August 1990 (Mike Millard Master Cassettes via JEMS The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 35 1644 Edition) – TTTTT”

  1. lucatod a 13:59 #

    Che bella recensione!!
    Non ricordavo o forse nemmeno sapevo che Mike Millard avesse registrato concerti fino ai primi anni ’90, meriterebbe una apposita categoria nella Hall of Fame delle personalità che hanno contribuito alla documentazione e condivisione della musica ROCK. Il bootleg in questione non lo conosco anche perché con Robert Plant il mio interesse è sempre stato marginale e legato a brevi periodi. In genere non mi spingo oltre il 1985. Devo dire che il passaggio da cantante di un certo art/rock misto a synth e pop (non solo nei suoni ma anche nel look) ad un ritorno alle lunghe chiome, gilet con le frange , stivali e pantaloni di pelle non mi ha mai convinto. Mi pare uno di quei tanti cantanti hard rock che lui stesso ha sempre denigrato. Devo dire che lo stesso vale per il Jimmy Page del periodo Outrider/Coverdale-Page.
    Tornando a Robert , la formazione solistica che preferisco è quella con Robbie Blunt ma un ascolto glielo darò volentieri anche perché certi audience hanno il potere di alzare l’asticella di certe performance.

    Piace a 1 persona

  2. mikebravo a 17:40 #

    MAGISTER TIRELLI !!!!!!

    Non avendo mai visto i led zeppelin mi sono
    dovuto adattare ai tempi e cosi’ il primo jimmy
    page che ho visto e’ quello di pistoia 1984.
    Era una jam di piazza ma almeno avevo il mio
    dio.
    Poi nel 1990 a firenze ero in seconda fila per robert plant.
    Che dire…..dico solo che e’ l’unica volta in vita
    mia che ho pianto ad un concerto.
    Lacrime di gioia perche’ chiudendo gli occhi
    mi sembrava di stare ad un concerto dei
    led zeppelin.

    Piace a 1 persona

  3. bodhran a 18:33 #

    Ho un bel ricordo di quel tour (doppia data, Firenze e Roma) e trovo che Manic Nirvana resti tutto sommato un bel disco da ascoltare; a differenza di Now & Zen, che paga lo scotto di suoni ancora molto anni ’80 che si sposano male con quel riavvicinamento al rock (facendo finta di dimenticare l’entusiasmo che provai per i reciproci blitz di Page e Plant nei rispettivi album).
    E il ritorno al rock in quegli anni ci stava tutto: la sua carriera era oramai anche altro dai LZ, il tour di Shaken’n’stirred non era andato poi così bene, e anche a voler guardare solo il lato economico, perchè non approfittare di un periodo in cui tornavano di moda le chitarre elettriche e i capelli lunghi?
    Sono andato a guardare, la San Diego Sports Arena fa 16.000 spettatori (il Tendastrisce a Roma ne teneva 2.500), lasciarsi scappare i soldi delle arene americane sarebbe stato da pazzi, le bollette arrivano a tutti.
    Tra l’altro Plant all’epoca aveva una quarantina d’anni, portati discretamente, non rischiava il penoso effetto “ribelle imbolsito”; insomma credo gli vada riconosciuto il merito di essere tornato rocker con intelligenza, a me non ha mai dato l’impressione di voler apparire quello che non era più.
    Opera sua? un bravo management? Non lo so, ma penso che la carriera solista di Plant sia un percorso più che dignitoso con una coerenza da rispettare.
    Anzi, sapete che faccio? Mi vado a riascoltare il bootleg di Roma… ‘na bbotta de nostalgia.

    Piace a 1 persona

    • lucatod a 11:51 #

      Sono d’accordo con quello che hai scritto. Ovviamente si tratta di un semplice gusto personale perché a ben vedere Robert Plant ha prodotto una discografia più che dignitosa con almeno un paio di pezzi notevoli su ogni album senza essere ruffiano con il pubblico e case discografiche. Nonostante il ritorno ad un certo tipo di look si tratta sempre di un artista molto versatile per nulla paragonabile ai suoi numerosissimi epigoni.

      "Mi piace"

      • mikebravo a 12:59 #

        Beh, inutile girarci attorno….prendete
        le discografie soliste di daltrey, mercury, jagger, tyrrell e ogni altro cantante proveniente da un gruppo famoso di musica robusta ……non troverete nessuno con una discografia ormai
        quarantennale SOLISTA degna neanche lontanamente a quella di plant ….in piu’ mettiamo sulla bilancia tutti i tour che hanno accompagnato i suoi dischi…
        e mettiamo pure una figura che.nonostante il peso degli anni resta invidiabile…..otterrete come risultato un cantante che ha mantenuto un altissimo profilo……che piaccia o no…..unico nel suo genere….irripetibile senza dubbio.

        "Mi piace"

  4. mikebravo a 09:12 #

    Restando nell’ambito dei cantanti reduci da gruppi che hanno fatto la storia e che hanno
    poi intrapreso la carriera solista, prendiamo
    paul rodgers che dopo free e bad company non ha combinato granche’ pur essendo una delle
    piu’ belle voci da sempre.
    A livello di successo di vendite e durata di carriera c’e’ ozzy sempre da birmingham.
    Lui e’ rimasto pero’ nel binario del metal
    mentre plant ha cercato (ed in certo periodo
    c’e’ riuscito ) di trovare strade nuove senza
    tradire le origini.

    "Mi piace"

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