Tag Archives: Elton John

Vinyl Spin: Elton John “Live from Moscow”

img_20190505_18354623985168918866547048.jpgIn 1978 Elton John released a solo Lp, A Single Man, it marked a few departures for him musically.  It was the first where Bernie Taupin did not have a writing credit on the Lp.  He also didn’t record with the band that had accompanied him on his two previous studio albums Rock of the Westies and Blue Moves. Elton toured to support the album, but unlike previous tours, the tour in ’79 was a man and his piano.  Elton was accompanied only by percussionist Ray Cooper. The tour that year had only one stop in Canada, the old O’Keefe centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto.  These shows were not unlike shows recorded Elton 20 years later in Madison Square Gardens.  These shows were made available solely to Fan Club members (of which I was) on two CDs in 2000 and 2001.

The tour included a historic eight shows in the old USSR, four in Leningrad and four in Moscow.  The concerts were one of the first by a western musicians allowed into the country and would open the flood gates for everyone else.

For Record Store Day this year, the BBC recordings of his last concert in Russia in 1979 were released on vinyl as a double Lp.  This 2 disc set was my first purchase after buying a new Turntable and it fills me with joy to hear the needle softly set itself down on side one track one with every album I play now.

Disc one Side one opens with Elton solo on the piano with open refrain of “Daniel” and cautiously welcoming applause, as the song plays I find I have tears in my eyes to hear the warmth of vinyl again; it’s a welcoming feeling to my youth.  Sticking with older materal Elton seques to his self professed favourite composition, “Skyline Pigeon”.  Take me to the pilot leads into Rocket Man a song that turns epic in this live performance.

Flipping to Side two it begins with “Don’t Let the Sun go down on me”, “Goodbye yellow brick road” and “Candle in the wind” all songs the audience well recognizes.  It seems as listening to the Lp that the the soviets in attendence are settling in and are not so wary of this pop superstar.  Elton’s love of Motown is widely known, the side ends with Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the grapevine” but sadly, IMHO, he over extends this taking away from the performance.  As I listened to it, I wonder how many in the audince felt as I did – is this almost over?

Over to Disc 2 Side 1 and Elton is joined by percussionist Ray Cooper.  Cooper has been playing with Elton since the 1971 Lp Madman across the water.  Besides Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson no one has played more with Elton.  The second disc opens with a combined “Funeral for a friend/Tonight”, songs that appear on Eltons only two disc studio albums.  Touching on 9 of his 11 previous studio Lps in this concert he brings a bit of Captain Fantastic with “Better off dead” before breaking into a full arena sized concert version of Bennie and the Jets with a room full of Russians yelling “BENNIE” on queue.

One last flip to Side 4, with “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” and “Crazy water” from Blue Moves, the audience is clearly in his hands, Elton sets up the end of the show with a a series of song combinations guaranteed to get Russian boots moving.  Elton works his magic with “Saturday night’s alright for fight” and “Crocodile Rock” with his “Pinball Wizard” and he was the first to end a western pop concert in the USSR with the Beatles “Get Back” and “Back in the USSR”. Judging the by the reaction to the song you might think he played official state anthem, but while the USSR was still in tact as it was in 1979, it was  most certainly the unofficial  emotional anthem.

Elton John Live from Moscow is a gift to his fans from a performer who is in the middle of his “farewell yellow brick road” tour.  For me it took me back to being 19, Elton John’s Greatest Hits was my first vinyl Lp I purchased and “Sleeping with the Past” in 1989 was his my last before going into full CD mode.  Live from Moscow brings me back to being a fan of Elton John and to vinyl. From the warmth and depth of the sound of the recording to the packaging of vinyl.  It is a return to good days and good music.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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10 (New) Christmas Classics Part 1

Christmas time is back and all the great music is back with it!  Here (in two parts) I present 10 songs that should be called Christmas Classics.

Run with the Fox – Chris Squire and Alan White

Born out of the failed launch of a new band XYZ with Jimmy Page, the Yes bassist and drummer, Run with the Fox was written and recorded in 1981and released under Chris Squire/ Alan White partnership. The Boys Choir and musical arrangements including the classic Yes bass guitar sound, just ooze Christmas.  I feel lucky that I have a promo copy of the 45 from 1981 scooped up (with permission) from a radio station I was interning in that year.  Take a listen https://youtu.be/TZqRDCif7Ig

Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band

Jimmy Nelson in Something Else called Christmas Must Be Tonight an unjustly overlooked Christmas classic, here’s the link ofthe review http://somethingelsereviews.com/2016/12/25/the-band-christmas-must-be-tonight-robbie-robertson/.  Nelson gives more history into the tune, so I’ll let his review tell the story of the sone.

Since reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony a couple years back and diving head first into to The Band, it’s become of one my Yule faves.   The song was recently covered by another Canadian band Blue Rodeo for their Christmas offering A Merrie Christmas to You

2000 Miles – The Pretenders

For a recently written Christmas song, 2000 Miles has been covered quite a few times.  Originally written for the Pretenders late guitarist James Honeyman-Scott in 1983, 2000 Miles charted at #14 in the UK that year.  In North America it was a B-Side to the single, Middle of the Road. This year I heard for the first time the 2003 Coldplay version, which is quite stunning.  The contract between the beautifully played guitar-focused Pretenders recording the piano based Coldplay version was great for my ear to behold. From 1995, here’s a performance video of the song with a nice string arrangement by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, https://youtu.be/OxCSo_cJ9mY

All I want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey

What else can you say about a song that makes a Top 100 return every year since its release, but to say it is a new Christmas classic.  The song topped out at number 9 in 1994, but has made an appearance on the Billboard chart almost annually since then.  Many artists have recorded the song and a duet of the song appeared on Justin Beiber’s Christmas alum in 2011. “All I want for Christmas is You is the 11th best selling song in music history.  Love itor not, this song is here to stay, https://youtu.be/yXQViqx6GMY.

Step into Christmas – Elton John

1973 saw Elton John score another number one hit with Step into Christmas.  It was the top Billboard Christmas song of the year.  Teamed up with the B-Side Ho Ho Ho (Who’d be a Turkey for Christmas) Elton finished a successful musical year with a real Yule winner.  In ’73 it reached spot 24 on the charts and in 2017 when it was re-released it almost hit the top 10, stalling at #11.  The song was written and recorded as a tribute the Phil Spector recordings of the 60’s.  in 2009, Step into Christmas as the ninth most played Christmas song in the UK and has received a  UK silver disc for sales. In the video https://youtu.be/QWMqfKjJoKc you see Bernie Taupin make a rare appearance with the band ‘playing’ the chimes and shaking bells.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net