Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Elton John 17-11-70+ 2017

So on the tenth annual Record Store Day, Saturday April 22, 2017, they released this set in it's complete form, a mere forty-seven years after it was recorded.

For Record Store Day this year, Elton lent his support as a sort of celebrity spokesman, doing a video about vinyl, and coupling that with the release of this vinyl edition of the complete radio broadcast from that historic date in 1970.

They pressed far more than even the Record Store Day crowd could eat up, so I'm assuming the record should be widely available. And if you appreciated the original, then this might interest you.

The original performance, broadcast on New York radio, included 13 songs, and they are all here. The original vinyl release featured six songs, most of them from the rocking second half of the set. The songs left off the original include the soft-rock of Amoreena (included as a bonus track on the 1995 CD version), I Need You To Turn To, Your Song, Country Comfort, Border Song, Indian Sunset, and My Father's Gun.

So most of the ballads he performed earlier in the set. OK, nobody really needs to hear Your Song again, I get that. But the vitriol, held in check by English manners alone, of Indian Sunset, an homage to native Americans, is stunning. My Father's Gun is another wonderful song from Bernie Taupin's Americana pen, as is Country Comfort. 

It is hard to argue with the original song selection, and by some accounts that means that the new material here is something less than the original record. I can't refute that, and still I find value and reward in this release. Here's the thing: the original record is just plain flat-out killer. The stuff they left off makes sense in the context of the original production, but it also helps to illuminate the point in time for this band, and Elton, that was a fleeting moment of perfect rock and roll piano trio performance.

If I can nit-pick at all, I would have liked to see this record sequenced as the original performance, What we get is the original release on record one, and the rest on record two. That's OK I suppose, but if you're going to release the whole show, why not present it as it was performed (although there seems to be some dispute over the actual set list).

All in all, a wonderful find on Record Store Day this year, and a real treat for anyone that acknowledges the quality of Elton's early work. The trio format allowed for some serious rocking from the whole band (Dee Murray is on fire). A young man is a strong man, indeed.