Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island
8th December 1974
Remastering notes from Andrew Skeoch
This wonderful stereo recording is one of the best from the audience of any Lamb Lies Down on Broadway show, and documents almost the entire gig.
The concert comes from the first US Lamb tour in 1974, and shows a few teething troubles still cropping up on stage. Tony's keyboards in particular cause problems, and loud crackles from his rig can be heard at various points throughout the set. I'm not sure, but it sounds as though at one point during Back in N.Y.C. Tony's 7/8 synth riff drops out altogether, and Hackett carries it alone with Tony filling chords on electric piano. There are also very prominent hums and buzzes from the PA that would have dismayed the band.
Nevertheless, they put on a powerful performance, and during most of the concert, the music is as good as it gets. It is interesting to hear Phil's harmony vocals present throughout, its as though he is just singing along with the whole concert. One doesn't usually think of Genesis songs as two part counterpoint, but its there. And Phil experiments continually, for instance the usual descending harmony line in Counting Out Time is absent, with Phil weaving lines around Peter's main melody instead.
The famous problems with the Slipperman costume and Peter's inability to get the microphone close enough are also present. Whilst Peter is mostly loud and clear during this song, there are times he drops out almost completely, and Phil carries the vocal alone. One can understand why the band were frustrated with this situation occurring consistently, and of course it is one of the reasons Peter re-recorded the vocal for the Lamb discs on the Archive box set.
The audience make a few notable appearances as well; listen to the exuberant whistles during the interlude prior to The Lamia. It is also amusing with hindsight to hear the audience's amazed reactions to Gabriel's unexpected appearance as the Slipperman.
This recording is outstanding, and has long been recognised as such. All the set up conditions for a great audience recording are present; good equipment, no obnoxiously loud audience members nearby, and it sounds as though the show was taped from near enough to the stage that it doesn't sound distant. The levels are good, with little hiss or overload distortion, and notably, there is not a single microphone bump during the whole recording! All the instruments are clear and there is a great sense of ambience from the hall and audience.
The recording was reputedly originally made on reel-to-reel, although the difficulties of stealth recording with large open reel gear, and that consistent cuts occur at the 45 min flips on different cassette copies of this recording, all point to a common cassette source. Whether that is the master or just a 1st gen duplicating tape is unknown, but going on the audio quality of this recording I think the former is more likely.
The recording documents nearly the entire concert with the exception of two omissions; firstly a small section (possibly only a few seconds) between the audience applause at the end of Carpet Crawlers, and the first chord of Chamber of 32 Doors (which fades in quickly), and secondly the middle minute and a half of Ravine. These missing sequences are almost certainly absent from the master recording. While they both occur at end of cassette tape sides, I think it is unlikely that they would originate in a cassette copy somewhere along the line.
This recording is mainly known from the 'Rael Imperial Aerosol Kid' bootleg, although because of its good sound quality, bits of it appear on other releases, notably the Waiting Room/Anyway section which is used on several boots (Lamb Lives, Suppers Ready with a Little Lost Lamb, From One Fan to All Others) to bridge the missing sections of the West Palm Beach and Lakeland soundboard recordings of January 1975.
This remaster has been initiated from first generation cassettes, generously contributed by a Hogweed member who knew the taper of this show in the 70s. The 2 tapes were TDK and Maxell 90s, with the show on 3 sides. While the cuts on these tapes are similar to those found on the Rael Imperial boot (indicating these cuts are on the master tape), there is a short section of crowd noise at the beginning (where Peter goes "Shhhhh"), which is on the boot but not this tape. Hence these tapes are definitely not the source for the boot. Also, the Rael Imperial boot inexplicably omits one of the best parts of the recording - the second encore of Watcher of the Skies, which is present on these tapes (hooray!), and (as far as I know) makes its public debut on this remaster.
The main difference in sound quality between the Rael Imperial boot and these raw tapes is in the midrange. Rael Imperial has a hard and brittle edge resulting from overload distortion of some kind. These tapes are bright but undistorted and smooth. Rael Imperial also has a treble cut above about 8KHz, possibly to minimise hiss, and of course the top end has gone with it. Lastly it is also weak in the bass as the original recording seems to be, there having been no attempt to balance this up. So, plenty of room for improvement....
I have as usual begun with a new transcription of the source tapes, checking pitch, which rises slightly with each tape and has been corrected. I have also passed the analogue audio through an exciter to add harmonics to both the bass and treble, so extending the frequency range.
Next I have denoised the recording *slightly* - by slightly I mean 4Db down to 4KHz, with a top end (above 7KHz) boost of 3 Db. This is really quite minimal, but enough to sharpen the tops and minimise what was a fairly minimal amount of cassette tape hiss anyway.
The stereo on this recording is a little off-centre, as though the microphone was not pointed directly at the PA. I know what this is like from my own experience, there is a great temptation to point the mic at the stage, but a central stereo image is best obtained by pointing it at the PA itself. Whether that has happened here I don't know, it could be a tape head alignment issue in copying that has caused the imbalance. What can be heard is that the frequency response is slightly different between channels, and that there seems to be more of a hall ambience echo in one channel (left on this remaster).
In balancing the equalisation, I have tried to correct this stereo imbalance, but it still didn't create anywhere near to a central stereo image. After a little playing around I found that the phasing of the two channels was the main cause of the problem. This would be consistent with either mic/venue or head alignment explanations. Anyway, after a little jiggling of the timing of left channel against right, the stereo image comes close to the centre, and the eq balance fine-tunes things along a bit more. So while the stereo is not perfectly balanced, it really sounds as though you are there in the auditorium, and that is what we want to hear.
I have balanced the equalisation as best I can. The microphone used for this recording has a presence band peak around 4KHz, giving a bright sound, but was a little deficient in the bass. So I have pushed the bass a little, softened the low mids, and left the top end pretty much as it came out after the analogue exciting and denoise boost. It sounds at times as though the top end is quite bright, but I have played around with it, and found that attenuating anything just led to either a thin or dull sound. I think a part of it is that the cymbals, particularly Phil's rides, are quite loud in the mix. At least they dominate the music well down into the midrange, so it's not a case of just equalising them back a bit. What you hear probably represents the way it sounded in the hall.
After the bass was enhanced, some low frequency (around 60Hz) hums became noticeable. Where the music has been quiet enough that they are audible, I have removed them, and in the process cleaned up any 'rumble' on the floor of the recording.
Lastly I have edited in sections from other concerts to fill the missing gaps in this one. The first few chords of Chamber of 32 Doors come from the West Palm Beach 75 soundboard, which I chose because it matched the sound quality well, and as it was a short fill that would have sounded much the same each night, I felt that WPB was a suitable source. Ravine comes from the stereo audience recording of the 12th December 74 show from Waterbury, CT. This is also a good recording, and although the source I had access to is probably not the best available, it seems to balance in well. It is interesting to note the lack of buzzes from the PA on this Waterbury concert. Lastly a short section of the intro crowd noises (Peter's "Shhhhh", less than 10secs or so) from the 'Rael Imperial' boot was used to fill the missing splice in the source tape I used.
The final process was to balance volumes between the 3 parts of the show, and maximise the levels. There is no reverb on this remaster.