Category: Elton John

Elton John – Friends

ARTIST: Elton John                        Friendsalbum

TITLE: Friends

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #36

SINGLES: Friends (#34)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, this one’s buried for good reason.

LINEUP: Elton John, Caleb Quaye, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and session vocalists.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A slight film soundtrack to a slight teen-romance that’s all but forgotten.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John’s creative burst (or the release of songs he had cooking up when he got signed) hit a speed bump with this album, a goopy soundtrack for a forgotten teen sex drama.

Like soundtracks, there’s some instrumental tracks (or mostly instrumental – variations of themse and all that), and then there’s a lot of sentimental fluff here.

I exiled all but three – “Can I Put You On” is the track that’s most like other John tracks from the time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming alone – it’s part of the Rare Masters collection.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: It’s probably best to just skip this one.

 

Elton John – 11-17-70

ARTIST: Elton John                                                     220px-171170UK

TITLE: 11-17-70 (17-11-70 for most of the world…)

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #20 UK

SINGLES: Not from this album

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Take Me to the Pilot and Burn Down the Mission, though this draws from his 2nd and 3rd records.

LINEUP: Elton John, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Taken from a live radio broadcast in a recording studio, John and his band run through a set of his early work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John was an ascending star, with two charting albums and a big hit single. He and his band meshed into a tight trio with bass and drums supporting the piano man (no doubt inspiring Ben Folds later on).

Most of the performances are sharp, with John displaying his piano skills and evocative singing. Murray’s bass work provides a great counterpoint to the piano, and Olsson’s drumming is sharp and propels the songs forward.

His cover of “Honky Tonk Women”, and the covers thrown into “Burn Down the Mission” (extending that song to 18 minutes) don’t seem necessary, and throw me off a bit. John also uses those opportunities to show off a bit more. Yet this is a great performance of his originals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original radio broadcast had thirteen songs but is only out on bootlegs and as vinyl released on Record Store Day.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They added the fantastic “Amoreena” on the CD issue, and the new vinyl issue has the entire concert (keeping the original running order and just adding the other songs on side 3 and 4), but the entire concert, in order, hasn’t been released.

GRADE: A-: A few points off for the covers, but the band cooks through his originals and John sounds fantastic.

Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection

ARTIST: Elton John                             Elton_John_-_Tumbleweed_Connection

TITLE: Tumbleweed Connection

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #5 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: Love Song

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ballad of a Well-Known Gun, Country Comfort, Burn Down the Mission

LINEUP: Elton John, Caleb Quaye, Roger Pope, Dave Glover, Herbie Flowers, Nigel Olsson, Barry Morgan, lots of others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Elton John finds his 70’s sound and improves his songwriting and arrangements.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From the first notes of “Ballad of a Well Known Gun”, modern listeners recognize Elton John’s signature sound. This is the album where it begins to coalesce.

The arrangements and melodies are more rock-and-roll than before, and Elton’s vocals are also schooled in more of a rock idiom. Gems like “Amoreena” and “Country Comfort”, and “Burn Down the Mission” populate the record. There’s somewhat of a theme, with a lot of songs with gun allusions, keeping a western theme.

There’s still a few tracks where it doesn’t all hold together. The selection for a single (“Love Song”) seemed out of place. It bombed, but the album did well on FM radio and sold and sold despite no single.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Amoreena” was used in the opening credits of Dog Day Afternoon.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The gem is the original version of “Madman Across the Water”

GRADE: B+: Most everything is a great listen, with just a few tracks that are semi-skippable.

Elton John – Elton John

ARTIST: Elton John                                        Elton_John_-_Elton_John

TITLE: Elton John

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Border Song, Your Song (#8 US, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Take Me to the Pilot

LINEUP: Elton John, Caleb Quaye, Clive Hicks, Barry Morgan, and a lot of others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a false start with a solo album that was totally ignored, Elton John starts his career as a hit maker.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John hooked up with producer Gus Dudgeon, and armed with some classic Elton / Bernie Taupin songs started his long hit making career.

After the first single didn’t do well, “Your Song”, originally a B-side, struck a chord with pop, rock and adult contemporary audiences. The song it replaced as A-side, “Take Me to the Pilot” was the best song on the album, and overall those two songs were the pinnacle of Elton John’s debut and the example of both sides of early Elton.

The rest of the album was lesser, but decent enough to show that Elton would have a longer career than just a one-hit wonder. It’s definitely one of the lesser albums of his early career, but he found his voice and style.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: That first album is available out there, called Empty Sky, but it’s really not worth the time or effort.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Off-album singles and B-sides.

GRADE: B-:  Two great songs, the rest just OK but good enough.