Elton wrote a lot of incredible music over the years, in fact, more than he needed at some points of his career. This is the story of the songs that Elton gave away, either by design, or by default. Two of Elton’s demos are featured - both of them are significant upgrades in terms of sound quality over what generally circulates.
50 years ago today, on the 1st of March 1968, a 20-year-old Elton released his first solo single, ‘I’ve Been Loving You Baby’, on Philips. Today’s episode is an all-encompassing celebration of that moment, telling the story through the people around Elton, and the music they were making at the time. Two practically impossible rarities are included to mark the moment.
Elton came back from rehab stronger than ever at the end of 1991. Here, in review, is the album that he brought back from the brink with him. The context, the music, the lyrics, the instrumentation - it’s all given the analysis it deserves in this episode.
A tribute to Elton’s first musical mentor - his mother Sheila. This episode is a trip through the music of the 1950s that was dear to Sheila, to her mum Ivy, and to Reg. On the way, we take in the story of how Reg came to play the piano, and get an idea of the pieces of music that were in his early repertoire. We go all the way up to 1962, when Little Reg sees Little Richard live, and the ‘Elton John’ touchpaper is lit.
Dee Murray was a truly innovative force in the Elton John band. In this episode I look at what made him special, from the jigsaw puzzle of ideas that Dee and Elton threw around in the 3-piece band; taking in the almost-soul of Philadelphia Freedom; and beyond, into the 1980s. A biographical, loving, and detailed look at the work of the man that made the music we love even lovlier.
Homemade bass transcriptions from YouTube are used throughout to highlight the parts – thank you so much...
I attempt to piece together the weekly Saturday evening TV shows, hosted by the impish Lulu, that led up to the UK’s selection being made for the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest, and follow up the progress of the careers of the six sets of songwriters who got through to that final stage. Whatever became of them?
Elton’s not always seen as a particularly cool musician to be a fan of. Lots of well-respected artists have no problem associating themselves with him though. In this episode, I go through those collaborations and connections, and pick out the ones, some more obscure than others, which, I feel, elevate Elton’s position as an innovative creative force.
This week, Elton released another greatest hits collection, to somehow celebrate his and Bernie’s 50 year anniversary of writing together. In this episode I look at 12 ‘genuine diamonds’ - products that would actually be essential purchases for anyone who already owns the mainstream EJ releases. In the end I just make myself a bit angry - there’s so much not being released, and we get this basic greatest hits….
This is the story of the band that Elton essentially sacked, live on stage, entirley out of the blue.
40 years ago, Elton played a charity gig at Wembley Pool. The band were expecting him to announce that he was going out on tour again, with them as his backing band. A very different announcement was made. In this episode we work out what led Elton to make that decision.
Here’s a picture of the band in question. Here’s the setlist.fm page for the night. Here’s the full show on YouTube.
We go through the 1968 almost-debut album, track-by-track. How good would this album have been if it had come out in 1968? How would it have fared? Actually that’s a question I don’t answer. I think we know the answer. There are some real surprises along the way, and some things that almost every early Elton fan will be hearing for the first time.
This episode takes you back to the 2nd of November 1969, to a Miles Davis gig, at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, where Elton met a 23 year old Paul Buckmaster for the first time.
How did Buckmaster get to be the guest of Miles Davis that night? What was the musical background of this graduate of the Royal Academy of Music?
I take you on a musical journey through Buckmaster’s early arrangements and his earliest ‘cello performances on vinyl.