Posts Tagged ‘Elton John’

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.

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. 

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

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,

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

Elton

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)

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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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Elton John - Live From Moscow

2019 marks forty years since Elton John became the first Western rocker to tour Russia.  To commemorate the anniversary, Mercury/UMC will release a 2-LP set of the May 28th show with Ray Cooper that was originally broadcast by the BBC.  This collection is sourced from the original broadcast masters and was remastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway and cut at Abbey Road.  The records will be pressed on 180-gram, “ultra-clear” vinyl.

Elton John was one of the first major western artists to perform in the USSR during the cold war. This excellent register comes from a BBC Broadcast and shows off Elton John with Ray Cooper on the percussion performing a anthalogical concert for the sovietics!.

Elton John‘s legendary 1979 Russian two-man tour with percussionist Ray Cooper will finally be commemorated for 2019’s Record Store Day. Best Classic Bands reported the two-record vinyl set, Live From Moscow, will feature the long-bootlegged concert from May 28th, 1979 held at Russia’s Rossya Hotel Concert Hall, which was broadcast at the time on BBC radio.

Elton John told us that because of the size and scope of his catalogue, he can change a show around almost at the drop of a dime: [“Songs come and go — having a big repertoire means that you could dump songs. I’ve got enough numbers to be happy with all of it, hopefully. If there are any numbers that you don’t like playing, you can soon substitute them, and then put in something that works better.”]

Singer/Musician: Elton John
Percussion: Ray Cooper

Elton John will reissue his personal pick for his favorite concert recording, 17-11-70, on Record Store Day 2017, with the gig’s entire performance available on vinyl for the first time. The reissue, dubbed 17.11.70+, comes as Elton John was anointed as the first Worldwide Record Store Day Legend to mark the annual celebration’s 10th anniversary.

“Happy 10th birthday to Record Store Day,” Elton John said of the honor. “I love record stores, I can go to the record store in [Las] Vegas and spend three hours in there. Just the smell of it, the looking at it, the wonder of it, the memories.” In a video recorded for Record Store Day, the singer talked about his love of vinyl and his most recent purchase, a bootleg copy of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo that “cost a fortune.” John also admitted that he cried when Tower Records closed, but he’s heartened by the surge of vinyl sales and the support of independent record stores.

“I love vinyl so much,” John said. “The tactile nature, the ritual of it, looking at the sleeve … especially with the old albums and the liner notes – who played on them, the process of putting it on, the needle going on and the sound coming out. And it does sound better, I know it does. I’ve been around long enough to know, I’ve been in so many studios … It does sound better. So it’s just the wonder of having vinyl.”

John added that he sold his massive record collection in 1990 at auction for $250,000, which he donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Two years ago, the singer decided to start a new collection and “slowly” began amassing records; fast-forward to today and his new vinyl collection contains over 7,000 pieces.

17-11-70, was originally released in 1971 after the live radio broadcast of the performance was widely bootlegged, initially only included six tracks, including an 18-minute medley featuring Elton John’s take on the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

A subsequent CD reissue tacked an additional song – “Amoreena” back onto the track list, but the 2-LP Record Store Day version marks the first time the entire 13-song recording has been officially released.

“The album 17-11-70 was not meant to be a live one at all; we did one of the first-ever stereo radio broadcasts live at A&R Recording Studios in New York City in 1970 on the 17th of November,” John said of the live LP. “It was Phil Ramone’s studio, one of the greatest producers of all time, and we just went in the booth and played it as a three-piece: Nigel Olsson on drums and vocals, Dee Murray on bass and vocals, and myself.”

John continued, “There was a studio audience of about 100 sitting outside the booth, hearing it coming through the loud speakers, and we just played. I’m astonished by how good we were, listening to this record a lot of it was improvised, and you can do that when you’re a three-piece band because I’m really the lead instrument, and Dee and Nigel were so brilliant at following what I did. There’s a 16-minute track on it that was completely improvised, more or less, and I’m very proud of it: I think it’s one of the greatest live albums ever made. It wasn’t initially coming out as a live album, but there were so many bootlegs in those days that the record company put it out. I’m glad they did because it really is something I’m very, very proud of.”

17.11.70+ will be released as a 2-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, with all the recordings remastered by mastering engineer extraordinaire Bob Ludwig. Additionally, the version of “Amoreena” features a different mix than the controversial take that appeared on the 17-11-70 reissue.

17.11.70+ Track List

A1 “Take Me To The Pilot”
A2 “Honky Tonk Women”
A3 “Sixty Years On”
A4 “Can’t Put You On”

B1 “Bad Side Of The Moon”
B2 “Burn Down The Mission” (Incl. “My Baby Left Me” / “Get Back”)

C1 “Indian Sunset” *
C2 “Amoreena” (Newly remixed bonus track)
C3 “Your Song” *

D1 “Country Comfort” *
D2 “I Need You To Turn To” *
D3 “Border Song” *

RECORD STORE DAY IS THIS SATURDAY!

24-Year-Old Elton John Plays “Tiny Dancer” For The First Time, And It’s Pure Magic | Society Of Rock Videos

Few entertainers manage to ever earn the distinction of being known as one of the best entertainers to ever live, and it’s an even smaller number of entertainers that are currently in that league; but from the moment Sir Elton John appeared on the scene, it was clear that he was well on his way to achieving that title and setting the bar impossibly high. So high, in fact, that watching this 1971 performance of ‘Tiny Dancer’ on Britain’s The Old Grey Whistle Test makes you marvel at the fact that there aren’t many artists working in music today that could even hope to come close to Elton’s vocal and piano performance that night, if any at all!

‘Tiny Dancer’ was featured in the 2000 movie Almost Famous. It’s used in a scene where the band is mad at each other, but remembers why they love music when they all start singing this on their tour bus.

Armed with only his voice and his trusty piano, Elton John has absolutely never been better – he never once misses a piano key or sings a note out of tune, doing the work of an entire backing band by playing the melody, harmony, and rhythm parts to ‘Tiny Dancer’ while making it all look as easy as breathing. He was only 24 years old when he performed ‘Tiny Dancer’ on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1971, but even then it was clear: the young man with the impossible voice and fingers that spun pure magic when they hit the piano keys was going places, and music would never be the same without him!

Tiny Dancer Lyrics 

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on she sings the songs
The words she knows, the tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Elton John‘s celebrated appearance last summer at Bonnaroo, you can download it now — as long as you’re a member of his fan club.

‘Elton John: Live at Bonnaroo 2014,’ a 68-minute performance from his June 15 set, features 10 songs, including ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting),’ ‘I”m Still Standing,’ ‘Your Song,’ ‘Levon,’ ‘Crocodile Rock’ and others. You can watch ‘Bennie and the Jets’ from the show above. “This is my first-ever festival in America, and I know it’s the best one,” John told the Bonnaroo crowd. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. The more I seem to get older, the more I love doing it.” John dedicated ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’ to the late disc jockey Casey Kasem, who’d just passed away. “Travel safely, my good man,” he added. Ben Folds joined Elton onstage for ‘Grey Seal.’

The concert, which is available to platinum fan club subscribers, also includes a special message from John. Deadline to sign up to get the video is Dec. 31.