Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Metapost II

Just taking a moment to post a few things Elton- and this blog-related that have occurred to me recently:

• First, I want to thank everyone for their interest, and especially for commenting! The response so far has been outstanding, far more than I expected. I try to reply to comments when I can think of something semi-intelligent to add to the conversation, but if I don't, rest assured that I do read them and value them highly. In many cases, I can't really add anything to what you've already written.

• Also, many thanks to those who have commented and set me straight on some of my interpretations; while I wish that I could be as razor-sharp and perceptive as can be, sometimes I have a bad tendency to miss the forest for the trees so to speak, and probably need the more knowledgeable among you to function as my editors from time to time. Since this blog will probably be on the internet for long after I'm gone, I think it should be as factually accurate and correct, conclusion-wise, as possible. While I have read and heard a fair amount, I don't sit on a treasure-trove of Elton interviews and reference material, and as I've found while trying to research these songs, it seems that there is always an explanation here or a statement there in some text that could go a long way towards interpreting Bernie's often obtuse wordsmithery.

• I put a bid in today on a copy of Rare Masters on eBay; wish me luck.

• You'll probably notice that from this point on, I'll probably be writing about songs from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Blue Moves more often than other albums. The reason for this is pretty simple, actually: Road and Moves are double LPs, with at least twice as many songs as other Elton albums in the period covered. I did some tallying up the other day, and noticed that I only have four or five songs to go on many releases, but have over a dozen left to do on those records. So, and this may change if I acquire Rare Masters, you'll probably see a song from those albums alternating after a single entry from the others, at least until (if ever) I get caught up.

• I recently did acquire copies of two more recent Elton efforts, Songs From the West Coast and The Captain and the Kid, and while I reserve the right to write more in-depth about them before I'm done, in a nutshell I can say that the former is the stronger effort; "I Need Love" is a wonderfully Beatle-esque piece of pop, and "This Train (Don't Stop Here Anymore)" manages, via strong melody the likes of which hearkens back to his salad days that are the focus of this blog, to evoke sympathy for a figure that frankly needs none of it. It's heartening to hear Elton being as willing as he was to lay bare his inner feelings in a way that he never cared to do in his classic years. Other tracks don't leave quite as strong an impression, but are solid just the same with only one or two uninteresting efforts. Captain, a sequel to Captain Fantastic, attempts to update the Elton & Bernie: The Early Years concept by providing songs tangentially related to events that happened in the early-mid Seventies. The title cut starts impressively, but becomes tiresome through repetition; "And the House Fell Down" essays his drug abuse via a catchy, slow-rocking musical setting, and so on. The main problem with not only this album but West Coast as well (and probably the middle album Peachtree Road, which I still don't have) is just that the years of writing AOR, Broadway, and Disney movie schlock have blunted the edges of both men; everything here, with a few exceptions, is immaculately crafted but remarkably glib and unaffecting. I will say that I'm happy that both men care enough to continue to try, though, and while I can't say that I'll listen to these CDs a fraction as much as I have listened to, say, Rock of the Westies, I'm still pleased to own them both.

• I also recently acquired a couple of unusual Elton-related albums: It Ain't Easy and Everything Stops For Tea, two early '70s Warner Bros. Records releases by EJ mentor and Blues singer Long John Baldry. Both LPs had a novel gimmick: one side of the album was produced and played on by Elton, and one side by another Baldry disciple Rod Stewart, then in the height of his powers just before and after his marvelous efforts with the Faces and solo, sp. Long Player and Every Picture Tells a Story. While I'm afraid that Rod's tracks steal the show, Elton acquits himself nicely. Baldry covers a John/Taupin composition, "Rock Me When He's Gone" on Easy- it's a rarity that John never included on any of his official releases; and on Tea the backing musicians include Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone, along with Ray Cooper, who would join Elton's band in 1975. Both these records are tons of fun, especially if you like the blues and blues-rock.

• That's all I can think of for now!


Matt said...

Hi Johnny--click here:


Rare Masters and another lil' extra.

It's not a crazy virus--I swear!

Johnny B said...

Oh, man- I wish you'd posted that before I made that bid on eBay!

Anyway, THANKS!

Johnny B said...

Hey, Peachtree Road! Again, THANKS!

Matt said...

I wish I'd known this was out of print...I sold it at a CD store a while back and I think the guy got a pretty good deal from me.

Eager to read some Rare Masters write-ups...your mention of it inspired me to check parts of it out again and there's some good stuff there. The Elton solo piano demo of "Let Me Be Your Car" is well worth the price of admission.