Friday, October 12, 2007

Can I Put You On

Just before "Your Song" became a smash hit, Elton and Paul Buckmaster were hired to create the soundtrack for the obscure British teenage-love film Friends, which starred Sean (The Abominable Dr. Phibes) Bury and the late Anicée Alvina. Recorded in 1970, between the Elton John and Tumbleweed Connection sessions, it featured instrumental music by Buckmaster and five new John/Taupin compositions, one of which was this R&B/Blues-style rocker.

In interviews, John has cited Leon Russell as an influence on his vocal style, and it's pretty plain here. Backing is provided by the Olsson/Murray/Caleb Quaye band, and this cut in particular sounds like it would have fit in on Tumbleweed Connection with very little fuss- in fact, the melody and tempo remind me of "Son of Your Father".

I've never had the opportunity to actually see the film, so the context of the lyrics, which seem to be a working man's lament that involves a traveling salesman that comes to town every week to sell "fancy city things", reminiscent of the sort of working-class, slice of life, Brecht/Weill-style songs that Alan Price performed in O Lucky Man! or Between Today and Yesterday, pretty much eludes me.

Not a bad song, not a particularly great song, but the extended fadeout lends itself to lots of vamping, which is (I'm sure) why Elton performed it so often in the early days. It was also included in the beat-the-boots 11-17-70, which I haven't covered due to not wanting to include live albums.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hmmm. I haven't seen the film either (I hear it's pretty dreadful) but I actually have the vinyl LP of this soundtrack packed away somewhere, in all its gawdawful pink-and-white-cover glory.

I seem to recall that both "Honey Roll" and "Can I Put You On" are tracks that appear as incidental music in the film. I think "Can I Put You On" is heard playing on a radio in one scene, for instance.