Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Elton spent a great deal of 1974 cultivating a friendship with John Lennon, both in and out of the studio. The first of these collaborations was a cover version of Lennon's surreal Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", on which the former Beatle contributed backing vocals and guitar.

Elton stays pretty close to the Pepper version, with a few differences: extensive use of Mellotron, Ray Cooper's bells, and a reggae-flavored tempo during the chorus, along with an uptempo instrumental passage in the middle in which the aforementioned Mellotron takes a prominent role. The ever-present Beach Boys-style harmony vocals of his band also add a nice touch; smoother than the Fabs, a little slicker perhaps, but still very good.

This went to #1 for two weeks early in 1975, and for good reason- Elton's star was still burning bright, and 1975 also saw the beginnings of a bit of a revival of interest in the Beatles as well, which really bore fruit with several subsequent Capitol collections of Beatles songs. After also recording a cover of Lennon's much less accomplished solo cut "One Day (At a Time)", Elton then guested on two cuts from Lennon's upcoming Walls and Bridges LP, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" and "Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)". John and Lennon (boy that scans weird, doesn't it?) made a bet- if "Night" went to #1, then the former would appear onstage with the latter. "Night" did indeed top the charts, and Lennon made good on his promise- which would, sadly, turn out to be the final live onstage appearances of his life.

7 comments:

Richard Marcej said...

During this time period, when Elton and Lennon would colaborate one of my favorite songs was the one they did for Ringo on his "Goodnight Vienna" LP, "Snookeroo".

I know you said you wouldn't be covering any live recordings (which I guess leaves out 17-11-70) but will you be covering the new songs on the "Friends" soundtrack?

Johnny B said...

You're the second person I've "spoken" to recently who's expressed some love for "Snookeroo". It's not a bad song, and the chorus gets in my head sometimes, but the muddy mix (which also afflicted, strangely enough, John and Taupin's Rod Stewart offering from that same year "Let Me Be Your Car") keeps me from really liking it.

Regarding Friends, I would, but I don't own it- and to be honest, I didn't even consider it when I started this thing!

I've been thinking about getting that 2 CD set Rare Masters, though, which IIRC includes that soundtrack so if I do then I'll definitely include at least some of the tracks.

Johnny B said...

Oh, and you know what? That other person? It was YOU! I just went back through my comments on the Show and found your comment on my Ringo birthday post. And my answer was pretty much the same!

Small world, innit?

Richard Marcej said...

D'oh! You know, you're right.
I'm the biggest "Snookeroo" fan inthe world! :)

As for the "Friends" soundtrack, I remeber getting it in the mid 70's when I was in my Elton buying binge (thanks to Yellow Brick Road).

"Friends", "Seasons" and "Michelle's Song" are ok. Nice little smaltzy tunes. I'm not sure if "Can I Put You On" was on any other album (except for the live version on 17-11-70) and Honey Roll feels like the kind of song that could be on Honky or Tumbleweed.

The album might be worth getting (or at least listening too) just to hear the spoken "I meant to do my work today"! I've never seen this film but it's my guess that it was one of those many "Young Love" hokey films that came out back then.

Michael said...

"Can I Put You On" is one of my favorite Elton tracks, both the live and studio versions, and was the only song on the Friends vinyl LP that I played much at all. Coincidentally, I just bought the studio version, from Rare Masters, on iTunes last night as I was patching some holes in my digital Elton collection. Rare Masters is indeed a fine album.

Roger Green said...

But that Thanksgiving concert helped John get back together with Yoko, and they had Sean, and he got a chance to do that domestic thing for a while.

thom de plume said...

Snookeroo, yeah!
B-side to No No Song, I believe.

Btw, have you ever heard Elton's solo demo?

Outstanding!