maandag 22 december 2014

Live at the Rainbow '74 (2). Queen

Sure, I thought reading Erwin Zijleman's post a while back, what can this album contribute to my memory of the band? Not much, I concluded. And I never was a fan before 'Killer queen' and more specific 'A night at the opera'. I never even bothered to really listen to 'Queen II' and never listened to 'Queen' at all. And then I listened to this 1974 live album anyway and things slowly shifted with the different listen sessions through the weeks.

For my birthday in 1976 I bought the then very recent Queen album 'A night at the opera'. Not just because 'Bohemian rhapsody', but because I already knew more than half of the songs from the radio, having taped them. Any Queen album after that was a disappointment. Nothing competes. I still loved many great singles, but when the band started releasing disco or hideous ballads, it went quite off the little path. Around 1978 - 1979 I saw the band live twice in Ahoy in Rotterdam, both great shows. It was not until 1989's 'I want it all', that the band won me back. By then it was almost over, without the world knowing. in hindsight I'll admit that 'Another one bites the dust' and 'I want to break free' are great songs. It just took me about a quarter of a century to recognize that fact. In the past years Queen became a band of the past for me. Songs come by on the radio or in a movie. That's about it. Hence I was not inclined to listen to Live at the rainbow '74. I was wrong.

Live at the Rainbow '74 has two albums. One of the beginning of 1974, before the release of 'Sheer heart attack', the band's breakthrough album and one of November from after the release. The difference between the two is definitely discernible, in hindsight. More confidence, a bigger sound, but also more subtle. Queen early 1974 is a hardrock band, not afraid to play a medley of old rock songs. The Queen of late 1974 is more diverse. What both albums show without doubt is how good the band is. With those killer Queen harmonies already totally in place: "AAAAAAHHHHH" at the top of their voices. The dynamics between the three musicians are flawless, making it so easy for Freddy Mercury to sing over. The piano comes in every once in a while as well and fills the sound when necessary..

In fact what I start to realize, is that this is the Queen I like best. The Queen that rocks out and makes use of all its melodic powers. The Queen before Mercury started to explore the U.K's vaudeville of days past. No matter how much fun at times, it's not my kind of music in the end. 'Bring back that Leroy Brown' is certainly a first inkling in that direction. On these Rainbow albums the band is at a milestone in its existence. A high it was not to come off of for quite a while and sort of is still at. Forever. 'Killer queen'  is so new the band disguised it in a medley with other "new songs". A medley where Mercury really starts to play piano in. Adding to the sound and variety.

So here I am over 40 years after these shows. What I do know, is that the people present must have been happy to have been there. They saw a band break big and still fairly up close. Never again after 1975. Mercury is speaking about "my darlings' with a fairly affected voice. A dead give away in 2014, not so in 1974 it seems. All rock stars in those days were like that: decadent. Setting that observation aside, Live at the Rainbow '74 is a real addition to my Queen discography. 'Son & daughter', ' White queen (as it began)', 'Flick of the wrist', all true discoveries. What fun music can be. Never a dull moment.


You can listen to 'Flick of the wrist' here:

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