Album review: QUEEN – Live At The Rainbow ‘74

Queen - Live At The Rainbow '74

Virgin/EMI [Released 09.09.14]

Previously unreleased two live concerts from March and November 1974 recorded at the legendary Rainbow venue in London. These are available in numerous formats, from the single CD (of the November gig reviewed here) through to an all singing, all dancing four vinyl LP box set and it is also on DVD and Blu-Ray. Neither show has been fully released before, although the November show had most of the set released on VHS (that’s good old video tape, younger readers!).

To a Queen fan like me who was too young to witness their early shows this is a great opportunity to hear those classic songs performed live, often in radically different versions than on the albums. Take ‘Bring Back Leroy Brown’, for instance this is performed almost entirely as an instrumental with Freddie adding the odd snippet of the chorus on occasion. ‘Ogre Battle’ becomes a real hard rock beast, almost metal in the fury of Brian May’s guitar playing.

The November set list features a lot of the then new album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, although not ‘Brighton Rock’ which went on to be a live staple for many years. Excellent versions of ‘Killer Queen’, ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ and so good to hear ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, one of my personal favourites. Interesting, too, hearing the between song banter of Freddie Mercury, saying ‘thank you’ a lot and just a few glimpses of the legendary showman he would become a short time later.

Good sound quality too and of course the fun rock ‘n’ roll covers appear at the end of the set, ‘Big Spender’ (still performed by the band in their final shows in 1986) and ‘Jailhouse Rock’.

Queen fans will definitely want the March concert as it was pre-‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and includes the only known surviving live recording of ‘The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke’. Fans are spoilt for choice really on formats although you do need both discs as a minimum just as a lasting memento of how the band started out.

Essential.  *****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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