Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Taupin’

Elton John Regimental Sgt. Zippo

Amongst all of the many Record Store Day 2021 announcements, among the most exciting has to be Island/Mercury’s announcement of an unreleased Elton John album finally seeing the light of day: 1968’s “Regimental Sgt.  Zippo”, due on the June 12th, 2021 RSD Drop.

After the rapturous reception for Jewel Box, Rocket/UMC/EMI are honoured to announce a strictly limited one-off bringing together of Elton John’s fabled Regimental Sgt Zippo album that was slated for release in 1968, but ultimately shelved.

One of the best box sets of last year was Elton John’s “Jewel Box”.  Among its 8 CDs were three discs of rarities spanning 1965-1971.  Perhaps the most intriguing tracks included were those intended for an unreleased album entitled Regimental Sgt. Zippo.  Recorded at Dick James Studios in London in late 1967 and early 1968, the new partnership of composer John and lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote this group of songs under the influence of The Beatles but in their own unique and developing style.  A total of twelve psych-pop songs were intended for the album and it was given its title with a nod to Elton’s real name of Reginald, his father’s military service, and once again, The Beatles.  But for reasons lost to time, the album was shelved and the world would have to wait until 1969 to hear a full album of John and Taupin songs with Empty Sky.  Regimental Sgt. Zippo was largely forgotten about as the duo’s careers hit the stratosphere, other than some of the songs leaking out on bootlegs.  Cut to last year with the “Jewel Box” which published a track listing for the final LP and presented versions of most of its songs.

The songs from Regimental Sgt. Zippo were spread out among the CDs on Jewel Box and some of them were in demo form, not in the versions that would have been heard on the final album.  Now, the entire LP will be released as originally intended. The title track of an unreleased debut album, this track captures Elton and Bernie in full 60s psychedelic mode. Recorded and produced at the DJM studios, the same building that housed the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs, the song is an affectionate nod to Sgt Pepper and the era. Within six years of this May 1968 recording Elton John would be a superstar the size of the Beatles, and close friends with John Lennon, something that would have been hard to predict at the time Regimental Sgt. Zippo was recorded.

This means that several of the songs will be heard in their completed versions for the first time.  (The press release indicates that five are in their finished versions for the first time, but there were only four songs labelled as demos in the Jewel Box: “When I Was Tealby Abbey,” “And the Clock Goes Round,” “Angel Tree” and “A Dandelion Dies in the Wind,” so it is unclear which other song will have a new version.  It could be the song “Nina,” which has a different title on the album’s track-listing, but that is just conjecture.)  Also, “You’ll Be Sorry to See Me Go,” the lone RSZ track not included in any form on Jewel Box, is making its debut here. 

 

If you would like to grab a copy of what would have been Elton John’s first album, head to your local record store participating in RSD on June 12tgh.  There’s no word as yet on a digital or CD presentation of Regimental Sgt. Zippo,

The LP will be limited to 7,000 copies and will have a flip-back laminated gloss sleeve.

Elton John, “Regimental Sgt. Zippo” (Island/Mercury, 2021)

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Elton John celebrates 50th Anniversary of “Tumbleweed Connection” with release of unheard jazz version of “Come Down In Time” on a limited edition 10-inch vinyl record.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of his seminal album Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John has today unveiled a previously unheard jazz version of “Come Down In Time.” Limited to just 5,000 copies of 10” vinyl  ‘Come Down In Time (Jazz Version)’ hadn’t been heard for close to five decades until this year, it was uncovered deep in the archives whilst researching rarities for Elton’s forthcoming boxset Elton: Jewel Box (released 13th November on UMe).

Recorded on 20th March 1970 at London’s Trident Studios, “Come Down In Time (Jazz Version)” more than doubles the length of the final version (re-recorded three months later with different musicians) that appears on Tumbleweed Connection. Without the orchestral arrangements by Paul Buckmaster which coloured the album version, the track ends in the same way as the original with Bernie’s line “while some leave you counting stars in the night” before starting up again as an jazz-influenced instrumental. The track features some astonishing piano and guitar interplay between Elton and Caleb Quaye, supported by the Hookfoot rhythm section of David Glover on bass and Roger Pope on drums. ‘Very nice!’ producer Gus Dudgeon exclaims as the track breaks down, before resuming with yet more freestyle playing.

“Come Down In Time’” was originally taken from Elton’s seminal 1970 album Tumbleweed Connection which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its original release. Tumbleweed Connection is a much-loved album within Elton John’s back catalogue. Steeped in what was to become known as ‘Americana,’ it was written and recorded entirely in London from March 20th to June 6th, 1970, fitted in amongst Elton’s various promotional dates in U.K. and Europe for his previous, eponymous, album. Although released afterwards, it was made before “Your Song” had become a hit and Elton’s triumphant debut performances at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in late August – the first time Elton and Bernie stepped foot on the soil they had written about so eloquently about on the LP. Its iconic sepia sleeve evokes a long-forgotten West, and the album itself contains some of Elton and Bernie Taupin’s greatest early songs: “Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun,” “Burn Down The Mission” and “Amoreena.”

“Come Down In Time (Jazz Version)” is now available to buy here on 10” vinyl only. This release is restricted to 5,000 copies only

Side A – Come Down In Time (Jazz Version)

Side B – Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun (DJM Demo)

This 9LP set gathers together all three of the ‘Jewel Box’ vinyl breakouts housed in one box. Curated by Elton himself and taken from the ‘Jewel Box’ 8-CD boxset, this 4LP gatefold black vinyl album takes a trip through a glittering career encompassing hidden gems and overlooked classics from a staggering body of work. which features an astonishing amount of rarities, deep cuts and B-sides.

Elton John recorded significantly more music in the Sixties and Seventies than the public ever got a chance to hear, and on November 13th, he’s finally sharing much of it with the world with the release of his 8-disc collection Elton: Jewel Box.

The latest preview from the set is John’s lost 1968 tune “Regimental Sgt. Zippo,” which has been paired with a new animated video. “The title track of an unreleased debut album, this track captures Elton and Bernie in full 60s psychedelic mode,” reads a press release. “Recorded and produced at the DJM studios, the same building that housed the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs, the song is an affectionate nod to Sgt Pepper and the era.”

Fans can also hear “Les Aveux,” “Stone’s Throw from Hurtin’,” “(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket,” a demo of “Sing Me No Sad Songs” and “Snow Queen” from the forthcoming box set on streaming services now.

Elton: Jewel Box begins with John’s 1965 work in his early band Bluesology and goes all the way to his Academy Award-winning song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me” from the soundtrack of his 2019 biopic Rocketman. There are 148 songs in total and several of them have never been released or even bootlegged prior to this box.

Deep Cuts 4LP Vinyl curated Rarities And B-Side Highlights 3LP Vinyl. This gatefold 3-LP set brings together highlights from the ‘Jewel Box’ 8-CD box set and includes selections of Elton’s much sought-after 1960s and early 1970s demos, never previously released, and a series of Elton’s non-album B-sides “And This Is Me” 2LP Vinyl.

This collection contains 148 songs spanning 1965 to 2019, of which 60 are previously unreleased. The first two CDs feature ‘Deep Cuts‘, a selection of personal favourites curated by Elton himself and what follows that are three CDs of Rarities. The rarities include many, many piano demos and band demos mostly recorded before he was signed or had released his first album, Empty Sky, in 1969.

There are 65 tracks in total across the three rarities discs, including the first song ever written by Elton and his debut appearance on a record (both ‘Come Back Baby’– 1965), Elton and Bernie’s first composition (‘Scarecrow’ – 1967), and newly-unearthed piano/vocal demos of some of Elton’s most acclaimed songs from his early albums.

Coinciding with the release of the updated paperback edition of Me, and taken from the 8-disc CD box set ‘Jewel Box’,‘And This Is Me’ celebrates the songs mentioned by name by Elton in his acclaimed memoir, closing with the Elton and Bernie Taupin’s 2020 Academy Award winning ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ – a duet with Taron Egerton.

Discs six and seven are B-sides compiled together for the first time. These start from 1976 and go all the way through to 2005. Many of these are being offered on CD for the first time.

The eighth and final disc is Elton’s ‘Mike Yarwood’ CD, it’s called ‘And This Is Me‘. It’s a bit of an excuse to sneak a few proper hits into this set although the justification is to collection songs that are mentioned in Elton’s biography, Me, which is coming out as a paperback edition soon.

The CD set comes in hardcover book-style packaging (it’s not totally clear how big this is) which slots into an outer slipcase. Each section comes accompanied with extensive notes including a track-by-track commentary by Elton for his ‘Deep Cuts’.

In terms of vinyl, you have three options: all 31 ‘Deep Cuts‘ from the first two CDs in the box set are available as a 4LP set. Additionally there is a ‘Rarities & B-sides 3LP vinyl package. This features just over half (‘highlights’) of the 65 rarities from the CD box and just five of the 36 B-sides from the eight-CD box. Finally the ‘And This Is Me‘ compilation which completes the box set is also available as a 2LP vinyl package. Speaking about this Jewel Box release Elton says:

“To delve back through every period of my career in such detail for Jewel Box has been an absolute pleasure. Hearing these long lost tracks again, I find it hard to comprehend just how prolific Bernie and I were during the early days. The songs just poured out of us and the band were just unbelievable in the studio. I always want to push forward with everything I do and look to the future, but having time during lockdown to take stock and pull these moments from my memory from each era has been a joy. As a devout record collector myself, this project has really excited me and I couldn’t be happier with the level of craft involved in such a carefully curated, lovingly constructed box set. I’m sure my fans will enjoy it as much as I have.”

All the audio for Jewel Box was mastered by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios and all formats will be released on 13th November via UMC/EMI.

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After A five year period that brought dizzying success with 14 US Top 40 singles and eight US Top Ten studio albums. British song-writing partnership of pianist/vocalist Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin had seen their last five consecutive LPs all hit the top spot. By early 1975, it was hard to imagine the dynamic duo blowing up any bigger. But they did. And 45 years ago this week (May 19, 1975), they released what would become arguably their most celebrated album to date Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Captain Fantastic is a personal retrospective a musical diary and one that reflects John and Taupin’s humble beginnings working together in the late ’60s.  There’s a scene in director Cameron Crowe’s iconic film, Almost Famous, in which 11-year-old William Miller gazes wide-eyed as he peruses his older sister’s vinyl album collection in 1969. There is the classic LPs from The Who, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell and others. That scene is particularly spot-on, as in those wondrous days, record releases were beautiful works of art from the songs to the album covers to the liner notes to the photography.  Captain Fantastic delivered that spectacular cover art created by Alan Aldridge, two booklets and a “fantastic” poster of the entire opened gatefold jacket .

Music consumption always has been a very personal experience for us all.  As it’s been said, our music chooses us not the other way around. At age 12, many of my closest friends had older siblings whose “personal” albums included classics from the Beatles, the Stones and Zeppelin. I had my best friend Johnny Hawker, we would sit in his room and he would play the most amazing albums.

The songs bathed in Elton’s warm Fender Rhodes piano and glossed with his honey-soaked vocals, the song is accented by Davey Johnstone’s crisp acoustic guitar work throughout, Along with John’s long-time producer, Gus Dudgeon who once stated, “There’s not one song on it Captain Fantastic that’s less than incredible.” Even Elton John himself has said, “I’ve always thought that Captain Fantastic was probably my finest album.” Hence, to dissect the record properly, could fill an entire book.

There is are an array of stand-out bullet points. On “Tower of Babel,” John’s vocals are soulful, while Johnstone’s solo is gloriously gritty. “Bitter Fingers” packs playful verses and crunchy choruses  I’m sick of tra la las and la de das. “Tell Me When the Whistle Blows” remains a delicate, bluesy treasure, while the record’s sole single, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” has become one John’s most endearing songs that John has referred to as, “one of the best songs that Bernie and I have ever written together.”

There is the heart-racing, guitar-driven urgency of “(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket,”. Conversely, “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” is a beautiful, heartfelt masterpiece. Although the song is about John and Taupin’s early creative relationship, as a naive 12-year old, it sounded like a sweet, romantic love song. Heck, even as a little old man navigating through a young girl’s world in 2020, that one still makes me cry.

In addition to Johnstone’s brilliant guitar playing, the record also benefits equally from Dee Murray’s rock-ribbed basslines. Nigel Olsson’s dry, yet fat-sounding, signature-style meat and potatoes drumming is superb. He knows when to bash the shit out of a note, and he knows when to simply let it breathe. Sometimes less IS more. For mad looking Ray Cooper, his percussion work dances from left speaker to right — making these songs pop with masterful precision.

There are very few who have not been touched profoundly over the years by Captain Fantastic Elton John and Bernie Taupin who intended the Captain Fantastic record to tell their story.

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