April 19, 2015 – 2:51 pm
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40th Anniversary - Lost California Performances [JF Archive Series, 2CD]
Live at Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis, CA; April 18, 1975 (late show). Fairly to very good audience recording.
Thanks to Tina F and friend for recording the show; JF; JEMS; and mjk5510 for sharing the show at Dime.
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It’s Alright?: cuts in
Wild Night: splice
Unknown Song: splice
Some rough transitions between a few songs causing some slight cuts to the beginnings and ends have all been smoothed
THE JF BACKSTORY
JEMS loves a vintage taper series and we’re pleased to offer another one, this time from the archive of our friend JF, who taped in and around Southern California in the ’70s and later resumed taping in Boston in the ’80s. He frequented smaller venues, like the Troubadour and the Roxy, leaving arenas to others and leaning more towards the folksier, jazzier and eclectic sides of rock.
Most of his ’70s tapes were made on what I would describe as the kind of rectangular, portable, C-cel powered cassette recorder that my family and surely many others had in the ’70s, either a Panasonic or a Sony. While I used ours to record myself, my friends and my sister around the house, the teenage JF figured: Why not try taking it into concerts?
I only learned what recorder JF used after I had heard some of his tapes and I have to say I was mildly shocked. Given the gear, his tapes are remarkably clear and judging by his recordings, he knew the right place to set up.
Our third output from JF’s archive is something special indeed. Not only is it an uncirculated Van Morrison recording from 40 years ago this week, but, to the best of our knowledge, this show is undocumented in any reference we could find on the web of Morrison’s touring history, the most definitive of which is the German site Vanomatic.de.
Vanomatic lists a mere 22 shows taking place in all of 1975, and, inexplicably, the only extant record of any ‘75 performance is a single 18-minute recording and six-song set list from the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, April 21. How Van Morrison, given his stature in 1975, could play 22 concerts, all but one of which (Buffalo) was in California, most of which were in San Francisco, and have them go completely unrecorded and undocumented is bizarre to say the least. But that changes now.
This concert in Davis does not appear in Vanomatic’s list of ‘75 shows; the date is actually assigned to Sophie’s in Palo Alto, which we now know is an error, as JF is confident the dates on his tapes are correct and the details below corroborate. Davis becomes the first full known Van setlist and recording from ‘75, and, if that wasn’t enough, JF recorded five other concerts in June (which match dates listed in Vanomatic), so we go from 18 minutes of a single ‘75 show to half a dozen full, uncirculated shows.
We’ve dubbed JF’s six recordings from 1975 the Lost California Performance, though perhaps that title deserves an asterisk, as the first show was not recorded by JF himself, but by his sister Tina. We’ll let him tell the story:
“This concert was recorded by my sister Tina who lived in Davis where she taught elementary school. She had never recorded a concert and I don’t remember whether she really wanted to do it or not. But I probably gave her no choice and she was a good sport about it. I recently asked Tina if she remembered anything from that evening and here is most of what she wrote to me:
‘It was a “pillow concert” where we sat on the floor in a small venue. I’m terrible at estimating the size of crowds, but I can confidently say that the numbers were in the 100s, not the 1000s, and probably less than 500. I remember it as feeling intimate… I had a good view of Van. I honestly had forgotten that we recorded it until you brought it up. I seem to remember the recorder going into the hall under my boyfriend’s jacket so it had to be fairly small, but back in those days I don’t think there was any such thing as pocket size. It probably was, as you said, one from school.
I remember no anxiety about smuggling it in and, likewise, I remember no paranoia about recording the concert. I seem to remember others around us taping, as well. That would explain my complacency. They probably didn’t have a lot of people for surveillance or they couldn’t make their way through the pillows and blankets on the floor or they didn’t care, I don’t know. But I can’t conjure up any angst associated with the night, so it must have been pretty easy. We sat a little to the right of center stage and I remember Van wearing a faded orange shirt… or maybe the lighting cast an orange glow on him’.”
Credit Tina for a nice job on the recording, which is clear. very listenable, and like other JF recordings, delivers a “you are there” experience. For the first part of the show Tina paused between songs (presumably to save tape as the blanks she used were only 60 mins), but she eventually lets the tape roll through.
Thanks to some legwork by JF and the cooperation of other Van collectors, this show is transferred from the original master cassettes. As noted earlier in our series, it was JF’s practice to copy his masters onto reels and reuse the cassettes. But in the case of Van Morrison, the artist he taped the most, he kept the masters intact. The tapes were loaned out over the years, but JF was recently able to get half of them back, so thanks to those who helped transport them to JEMS for fresh transfers.
The Davis performance is an interesting one and bears only a passing resemblance to set lists from the prior year. Backed by a small band (according to Vanomatic it consisted of John Blakely on guitar; Mark T Jordan on keyboards; David Hayes on bass; and Tony Dey on drums), Van performs a set loaded with covers and snippets of other songs, with just enough familiar material to satisfy the audience. The surprise for me was “TB Sheets.”
JF also notes something special about Morrison’s vocals during this period:
“You can really hear Van’s voice going ragged at this point. He’s gigging up the freeway, down the freeway in CA and his voice shows the wear and tear. I happen to love it, although I’m sure he didn’t! This voice really has his ‘work’ in it. It reaches a peak (among my tapes) at the Santa Barbara show, where the poor man is really fighting, but doing so valiantly and creating great, inspired music.” Santa Barbara will be the last of the six recordings in this Lost California run.
Thanks to JF, who reached out on DIME (you could be next!) and offered us his archive, which had been sitting in boxes, 6,000 miles away from where he lives today, for 20+ years. Like so many early tapers, he had great stories to tell and the memories flooded back as we sorted through tapes. We are pleased to be able to bring his work to all of you.
Special thanks to Tina, JF’s sister, for taping the show in the first place and sharing her thoughts for the notes. We also appreciate the unnamed Van collectors for helping to get JF’s masters back in his control. And finally mjk5510, who continues to be at the ready to finish off JEMS’ projects. Much appreciated.
BK for JEMS
Click here for the lossless flacs.
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Source: unknown recorder > unknown stereo microphone
JEMS 2015 Transfer: JF master Memorex cassettes > Nakamichi CR-7A (azimuth adjustment) > Sound Devices USBPre 2 > Audacity 2.0 (24/96) capture > iZotope RX4 > Peak 6.0 with iZotope Ozone 5 > iZotope RX MBIT+ resample 16/44.1 > Peak Pro XT (edit / index) > xACT 2.21 > FLAC
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.
Track 101. Alright OK (cuts in)/Shake Rattle And Roll 4:29 (7.5MB)
Track 102. Baby Please Don’t Go 5:25 (9.1MB)
Track 103. Help Me 4:57 (8.3MB)
Track 104. Walking The Dog 3:54 (6.6MB)
Track 105. TB Sheets 8:12 (13.8MB)
Track 106. Wild Night 6:04 (10.2MB)
Track 107. St Dominic’s Preview/You Can’t Always Get What You Want 12:37 (21.2MB)
Track 201. I’ve Been Working/Thank You/Higher 7:30 (12.6MB)
Track 202. What’d I Say/Whole Lotta Shakin’ 7:41 (12.9MB)
Track 203. Unknown/When I Deliver 4:31 (7.6MB)
Track 204. You Move Me 8:39 (14.5MB)
Track 205. Gloria 5:56 (10.0MB)
Track 206. Moondance/Fever 6:13 (10.4MB)
Click here to order Van Morrison releases.
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