Complete Live At The Rainbow (Master Stroke FFMS-002A/B)
CD (76:30) Rainbow Theatre, London, England – March 31st, 1974: Procession, Father To Son, Ogre Battle, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Modern Times Rock’n’Roll, Liar. Golders Green Hippodrome, London, England – September 13th, 1973: Alan Black introduction, Procession, Father To Son, Son and Daughter, See What A Fool I’ve Been, Ogre Battle, Band Introduction, Liar, Jailhouse Rock, Stupid Cupid, Be Bop A Lula, Jailhouse Rock (reprise), Big Spender, Bama Lama Bama Loo
DVD, Live At The Rainbow 1974: Procession, Now I’m Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen (As It Began), In The Lap Of The Gods, Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Son And Daughter, Brighton Rock, Father To Son, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, Son And Daughter (reprise), Stone Cold Crazy, In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited, Jailhouse Rock, God Save The Queen
Extra Section, Alternate Live At The Rainbow 1974 Video: Now I’m Here (HD version), Stone Cold Crazy (Rare Live Version), Now I’m Here (Rocks Version), Stone Cold Crazy (Rocks Version), Son And Daughter (March 31st 1974), Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll (March 31st 1974), Son And Daughter / Brighton Rock / Son And Daughter (reprise) (slideshow), Stone Cold Crazy (slideshow), Liar (slideshow). Hidden video track: Son And Daughter (complete edit from Rainbow Theatre, London, England – November 19th/20th, 1974)
Queen’s third LP Sheer Heart Attack was released on November 1st, 1974. It was their second LP released that year (following Queen II), and is one of their most sublime and bizarre works. Already moving past the Led Zeppelin / Black Sabbath inspired brand of hard arena rock and expanding upon the Victorian dabbling in their second album, Sheer Heart Attack was a strange mixture of stylistic experimentation.
Earlier albums had forays into the spooky territory in the form of a strange mythology, but the new album had a hostile edge which, to this day, remains unexplained and unsurpassed. “Flick Of The Wrist,” for example, is a more hardened precursor to “Death On Two Legs” (which is tempered by a liberal dose of camp and good times). Freddie’s slowed down vocals to “In The Lap Of The Gods,” the bizarre coda to “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos),” and even the light “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” (“baddest man in the whole damn town” according to Jim Croce) reveal a sinister undertone.
Wanting to promote their latest work, the band made an appearances on BBC radio and television, and recorded and filmed several of their shows. Complete Live At The Rainbow collects several documents from the time period on both audio CD and DVD.
Queen made two separate appearances at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The first was the evening of March 31st, right after their second album Queen II was released. The second was a two night stand on November 19th and November 20th, right after Sheer Heart Attack was issued. The band were adamant about producing a definitive live statement. All the shows were professionally recorded and filmed, but nothing was used in the seventies.
The audio disc has the soundboard fragment from the March 31st show. Only these eight songs have ever surfaced and is the source of the first Queen bootleg LP Sheetkeeckers released in 1974. Many versions have come out over the years including Majestic Rock, a bonus CDR with Dressed To Kill (Wardour-033), on Hail To Majesty (Wardour-055) along with the Portland show from their first US tour (with two minutes chopped off of “Liar” to fit) and on As It Began: The BBC Archives (Godfather GR 225/226).
Master Stroke present the complete Rainbow tape in excellent sound quality. The tape was edited so that all of the new songs (except, rather curiously, “White Queen”) are included with three older songs. “Great King Rat” and the rock and roll medley are eliminated.
The sound is excellent and the band are in great form. Freddie shows his humorous side, introducing “Ogre Battle” as a new song and, during a pause in the song, asks “how do you like the song so far??”
The rest of the disc contains the ever popular “In Concert” BBC session recorded at Golders Green Hippodrome. Many different sources exist that have been pressed onto silver disc including Complete BBC Sessions 1973-1977 (Digital Queen Archives Q-001AB), First Procession (Gypsy Eye GE 242) and Pop Spectacular (Wardour-016).
Master Stroke copy the version found on Queen Will Be Crowned: Live 1973 (Digital Queen Archives Q-005). It is the complete broadcast in excellent quality including Alan Black’s narration and promotion. Present is the initial comments about “Keep Yourself Alive” not being played this evening. Before “Son & Daughter” the announcer speaks about Brian May’s special guitar. Queen’s upcoming tour is discussed before “See What A Fool I’ve Been” (the track is also restored to its proper position), and Queen’s concert presentation is mentioned before “Ogre Battle.”
The main part of the DVD has the Live At The Rainbow film. It is edited from both the November 19th and November 20th concerts, it has very limited run in the movie theaters in the 70’s (shows with Jaws in 1975 and The Song Remains The Same in 1976), and was released on VHS in 1992 in A Box Of Tricks.
There are no surprises in the main video on the DVD. It contains the bulk of the concert including the strange edits in “Son And Daughter,” “Brighton Rock,” “Father To Son,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Liar” and a reprise of “Son And Daughter” to make it look like a long medley.
The bonus tracks collect different variations from other sources relating to the Rainbow shows. Included is the only known footage from the March 31st show (“Son And Daughter” and “Modern Times Rock And Roll”) and a complete “Son And Daughter” from the November shows.
Complete Live At The Rainbow is a very good (and safe) release by the new label Master Stroke. It’s more desirable than the Hammersmith 1975 tapes because these have not been released as often. As nice as it is to see this, one can hope for more adventurous releases in the future (although I won’t hold my breath).If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)