Rainbow 1973 (Sirene-229)
Rainbow Theatre, London, England – October 26th, 1973
Disc 1: Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part One, mellotron tuning, Fripp Speaks, Easy Money, Night Watch, Fracture, Book Of Saturday, Lament, Fripp Speaks
Disc 2: Improvisation “Untitled Unwritten”, Exiles, improvisations, The Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part Two, Peace A Theme, Cat Food
Bonus cdr, Torontobound, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON, Canada – November 11th, 1971: Cirkus, Pictures Of A City, Formentera Lady, Sailor’s Tale, 21st Century Schizoid Man, The Devil’s Triangle, Cadence and Cascade
Rainbow 1973 contains King Crimson’s complete performance from The Rainbow Theater on October 26th, 1973. This is the fourth release of this show on silver pressed compact disc. The earliest is The Mince (SIRA-CD 27/28) on Silver Rarities (where it attributed to March 18th, 1973), followed by Majestical Alchemy (RSG 004) on RSG Music and lastly Great Bible (HL112/113#KC5) on the Highland label.
It captures the entire hour and a half performance and is slightly distant but clear. There is noticeable distortion in the lower frequencies surrounding John Wetton’s thunder like bass which is a common issue with Crimson tapes from this era. It isn’t noted on the track listing, but the tape opens with three and a half minutes of the Fripp-Eno composition “No Pussyfooting” before the band plays a very delicate version of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part One”.
This is followed by a minute of mellotron tuning before Fripp stands and gives his opening address by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen those of you who are familiar with King Crimson’s occasional performances in London will know this is the moment when the band sends me forward to captivate the audience with my winning personality…and insincere comments generally like ‘It is great to back at the Lyceum.’ However, since some of you, judging by your gentle ripples of enthusiasm, are vaguely interested in the band’s well being, I will if I may read one or two press cuttings from America.” After reading a scathing review of the band to much laughter he asks for a ripple of enthusiasm for Bruford and “Easy Money”.
“The Night Watch” sounds very dramatic on this tape and is one of the better versions to be recorded and is followed by the eight minute instrumental “Fracture” which would, like “The Night Watch” be released on the following album Starless And Bible Black. After “Lament” Fripp speaks again to the audience, discussing his collaboration with Brian Eno, his exuding sexuality and their new dance tune which he hopes will sweep the country called “The Mince” which he decided not to demonstrate.
Instead they play an improvisational piece, which on earlier releases by RSG and Highland is called “Tight Scrummy”, but what Fripp titles on the tape “Untitled Unwritten”. It is a heavy, eight-minute piece based upon an electronic drums and an expressionistic bass line by Wetton which builds into an energetic storm before dissolving into the mellow “Exiles”. This is followed by the second improvisation of the evening. This one is slower and more contemplative which is lead by Bruford’s drums and David Cross’ spooky violin melody.
Fripp lightens the mood somewhat with his guitar picking before Bruford begins “The Talking Drum” and the set closer “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part Two”. The encore is a look back to Crimson’s second album In The Wake Of Poseidon with “Peace-A Theme” and “Cat Food” which the audience enjoys enthusiastically with no hint of “21st Century Schizoid Man”. The Rainbow concert is a very strong show in line with other European dates in Turin, Rome, and Amsterdam and this is an excellent release by Sirene.
As a bonus with Rainbow 1973 Sirene produced the cdr Torontobound with the Islands era band playing at Massey Hall in Toronto on November 11th, 1971. This tape was issued on silver many years ago on Marsbound (KC-005).
Just as Academy Of Music (Sirene-192) was released as a tribute to the memory of Boz who passed away, this is a tribute to the late drummer Ian Wallace, who passed away on February 22nd. The sound quality is merely fair to good but listenable, rating a 6.5 out of 10 at best. Sirene did a commendable job in reducing the hiss to bring some sort of clarity to the music.
This line up of Crimson toured North America two times, in the winter of 1971 and again in the spring of 1972. This is, after the November 10th show in Delaware, their second. The tape picks up during the first verse of “Cirkus” and cuts out after a gorgeous version of “Cadence & Cascade” and the set list is close to standard with only “Ladies Of The Road” and “Groon” not played.
There are several cuts between songs but it is hard to determine if any songs are lost. The performance is good and tight and the band stays close to the album arrangements. They wouldn’t feel confident enough to improvise (or jam) until much later. “21st Century Schizoid Man” is one of the highlights with Boz singing through a vocal harmonizer distorting his voice.
The bonus is packaged in a slim jewel case with a single insert that mimics the official Earthbound release, King Crimson’s first official live album and for a long time the only document of this line-up’s live proficiency. Sirene use high quality glossy paper for Rainbow 1973 and a standard stock of paper for the bonus insert and is limited to three hundred copies.