Review: Elton John-Rainbow Theater 1977


REVIEW: Elton John-Rainbow Theater 1977 [bootleg]
I probably overpaid for the bootleg CD of this show but I don’t care, it’s just about the greatest thing I’ve ever heard and I think I came in my pants while listening to the second disc, despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that it’s just EJ and Ray Cooper (percussion), and Ray Cooper only plays on a few songs. This version of “Funeral for a Friend” actually sounds really good without the guitars, which is surprising. I think “Tonight” sounds better without the orchestra.

I’m not terribly fond of the versions of “Take me to the pilot” and “border song,” though, but only because the piano parts are a bit overly embellished, and “Crazy water” is weird without the prominent bass part. Still, far better than any officially-released EJ live recording (I like the 2-CD re-release of “Here and There” but only because of the different songs included on disc 2+the stuff with John Lennon). I think he only fucks up the lyrics a few times, also. His voice probably never sounded better, possibly because he only played a few shows in ’77 so he wasn’t hoarse from touring too much like he was on pretty much every live recording before or since. I’m not terribly fond of “Idol” (the song I mean, this version of it is fine, though) and it’s a shame that is on here instead of “Chameleon,” which was hardly ever performed live, either. Sound quality is pretty good, there’s a bit of tape hiss in some places, though.

I have a Russian bootleg DVD of a Wembley ’77 show but, IIRC, he fucks up a lot of the high notes on “Tonight” in that and that’s sort of painful to listen to, though the rest is good (full band in that one, though, plus Kiki Dee and Stevie Wonder). I think he’s consistently fucked up “Tonight” in some way every time he’s ever played it, but the Rainbow Theater version is probably the best I’ve ever heard. (The Live in Australia ’87 version is somewhat painful to listen to but that’s because it was after his vocal chord surgery and he had to completely change the song so he’d be able to sing it.) The live in Russia DVD, which was EJ and Ray Cooper, was also good. The interviews on that are great and caused me to stop hating Ray Cooper. RC describes himself as looking like a “deranged civil servant,” which is very accurate.

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