Posts Tagged ‘Island/Mercury’

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)