The NATIONAL – ” Juicy Sonic Magic ” Live At the Greek Theatre Berkeley Record Store Day Black Friday

Posted: November 28, 2019 in MUSIC
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The National - Juicy Sonic Magic

The National are celebrating Record Store Day Black Friday (November 29th) with “Juicy Sonic Magic” — a complete recording of their two-night stand at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley last fall. But this isn’t your everyday live album: it was recorded from the audience with two microphones and an analog tape recorder, bootleg-style. And The National are giving it an official release — a limited-edition set of three cassette tapes with a homemade feel.


The release is a tribute to the early days of concert bootlegging, and to one SoCal superfan in particular: Mike Millard. Starting in 1975, “Mike the Mic” made hundreds of incredible secret recordings of rock’n’roll giants at the peak of their powers, including Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and so many more.

The National’s Matt Berninger and archivist Erik Flannigan tell KCRW about Mike Millard and their twist on this Record Store Day project. Also, be sure to check out The National’s documentary on the project below.

Juicy Sonic Magic: The Mike Millard Method, a 10-minute mini-documentary directed by David DuBois. The film tells the story of late, great concert taper Mike “The Mike” Millard and an homage to his work that was undertaken by archivist and producer Erik Flannigan, who attempted to recreate the legendary taper’s methods by using the same vintage cassette deck and microphones Millard employed in the ’70s to record our two Greek Theatre concerts last year. Millard became a legend for his high-quality bootleg recordings of artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and many others made in and around Southern California in the ’70s and ’80’s by sneaking his equipment into concerts hidden in a wheelchair. The film features animation by illustrator Jess Rotter and Eben McCue, plus interviews with Matt Berninger, producer/archivist Erik Flannigan and Mike Millard’s friend Jim Reinstein, who pushed Millard and his wheelchair into dozens of shows. Flannigan explained the idea behind using The Mike Millard Method in the liner notes of the accompanying Black Friday Record Store Day three-cassette box set release (out November 29th via 4AD) entitled ‘The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24th-25th, 2018′, saying: “The most celebrated audience taper of the period, Mike Millard, recorded in and around Southern California beginning in 1974 and continued into the early ’90s. Millard’s legend is built in part on the cunning and subterfuge he used to get his nearly 15-pound cassette deck and microphones into venues like the The Forum, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and The Roxy. For years I have pondered what made Millard’s recordings so good, and eventually I had an idea: What if you recorded a concert today with the same equipment Millard used in 1977? Would it sound like his tapes? Would it tap into his Midas touch? The National was kind enough to let us test the Millard Method for two concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California last September. These live recordings were made with vintage AKG 451E microphones and a restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck which are identical to those used by Millard circa 1975-81. The idea was to see if we could recreate what Matt Berninger calls the “juicy sonic magic” Millard captured in his 1970s field recordings.

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