Steely Dan – Live At The Rainbow 1974 (Master Note)

Live At The Rainbow 1974 (Master Note)

Rainbow Theatre, London, England – May 20th, 1974

(79:53):  Intro., Bodhisattva, The Boston Rag, Do It Again, Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me), King Of The World, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Pretzel Logic, introductions, My Old School, Dirty Work, Your Gold Teeth, Reelin’ In The Years, Show Biz Kids, This All Too Mobile Home

Steely Dan started touring in 1972 to support Can’t Buy A Thrill and carried a heavy live schedule for the next year and a half.  They stopped touring for twenty years after shows in the summer of 1974, but not until they traveled to the UK for the first time.  Originally scheduled for twelve shows, more than half were canceled and the band would play only five.  The final two were at the Rainbow  Theatre in London on May 20th and May 21st.  

Live At The Rainbow on Master Note is the first silver pressed edition of the professionally mixed soundboard recording made that night.  Steely Dan brought Stuart “Dinky” Dawson, one of the pioneers in live sound technology, to be the sound engineer and to record the shows on the tour.  Unlike flat soundboards from the era, this is very crisp and detailed with wonderful separation in the instruments.  

As the liner notes say:  “Dawson was unaware of it, but he was mixing what turned out to be the final tour legs by the original band, now expanded to an eight piece. On board were a second keyboard player and singer, Michael McDonald, and a second drummer, Jeff Porcaro, in addition to the original musicians. Instrumentally, they were now capable of more complex arrangements and the vocal harmonies significantly improved with McDonald’s voice added to the mix. This was arguably the most compelling touring band Becker and Fagen ever assembled. … A stereo recording with a well-balanced mix, this is indeed the crown jewel of all early Steely Dan recordings.

After the introduction the band start off with the adrenaline rush of “Bodhisattva.”  It is such an roller coaster ride that the audience could barely keep up.  The relatively tame “Boston Rag” follows, allowing everyone to catch their breath.  “Do It Again,” their first single and one of their most recognizable tunes, is extended with a Shaft style funk interlude.  

Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)” effectively replaces “Any Major Dude,” the song more commonly played in this slot.  Don Fagen calls “King Of The World” a very scary song and even tries to convince the audience at the song’s end.  

After introducing the massive band onstage, and pointing out that Skunk Baxter insists on being called Jeffrey while in England, they add two more songs to the set, “My Old School” and the slow and profound “Dirty Work.”  

A very long jam laden version of “Reelin’ In The Years” is the official end to the show.  When they return for the encores, they play long versions of “Show Biz Kids” as well as an extended version of the unreleased “This All Too Mobile Home” complete with a Genesis style drum duet.  The song was never recorded in studio and was only played on this tour.  It’s good to have such a good recording.  

Live At The Rainbow 1974 is packaged in a digi-pack with detailed liner notes.  It’s  rare to have a Steely Dan silver made available, and rarer still to have such a great recording on an unofficial release.  This is a highly recommended title for Steely Dan collectors.  

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  1. sionxxii – The two shows on Metal Leg have slightly better sound quality in comparison. Master Note still sounds great though it’s just a little flatter on the EQ. The only downfall to this Master Note release is that they cut off the end of the last track to fit it onto a single disc. It’s probably only a minute and a half but still a drag. I would rather have a double disc with the complete source and bonus tracks. I believe Wolfgang’s Vault has the complete Rainbow source.

  2. I’ve got Metal Leg, which is also a soundboard. Does anybody know how it compares?


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