Monday, January 4, 2010

Lost Tracks: Volume 1

The great run of now classic Elton John albums ended for many with the release of "Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy." It was the last to feature the legendary Elton band that included Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray, and Nigel Olsson. Some stop even earlier with "Honky Chateau." I stayed with Elton for at least two more post- Captain releases. The first was the follow-up, "Rock Of The Westies." It was a bit of a disappointment and featured a new gang of longtime studio musicians from Philly --Caleb Quaye, Roger Pope and Kenny Passarelli to name a few--and spawned the so-so hit single, "Island Girl," a damn good rocker "Grow Some Funk Of Your Own," and the powerful ballad, "I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford.)"

Then came "Blue Moves," an album whose release in 1976 was met with mostly closed arms. It was a two CD set which most critics felt showed signs of fatigue in Elton's hit making ability. There were epic orchestral ballads that lasted 8 minutes, disco workouts that lasted 7 minutes, gospel numbers, and of course, the monster hit, "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." But that was it. No follow up single and no more hits, though "Crazy Water" got a ton of airplay on Scott Muni's show.

The album is never talked about with the same respect as such classics as "Tumbleweed Connection," "Madman Across The Water," or "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." And maybe it shouldn't be. But it deserves more attention than it has gotten over the years. It's an ambitious record that years later still holds up. And if we still have the patience to listen to any of Elton's dreck from the 80's, 90's and later, "BLUE MOVES" deserves at least 5 minutes of your "upload to iPod" time.

Listen to a fave track of mine, "IDOL," a beautiful ballad, unlike anything Elton and his band had attempted prior.


steve simels said...

Elton lost me with the duck suit, IIRC, but for me, even during his "classic" period I couldn't get past his vocal resemblance to Jose Feliciano.

steves said...

That's just cruel, Simels. Elton in his prime had more of a range than Feliciano. And "Love Lies Bleeding" still kicks ass (with the best opening line evah, IMHO).

Thanks, Sal. And hey...aren't you done with those books on the Band yet? ;)

Sal Nunziato said...

I have bad reading habits. I've started "Backbeat" The Earl Palmer Story" and 2 in the "33 1/3" series.

Chris Swartout said...

I'm not a fan of Elton's 80's onward material generally, but I have a weak spot for some of the tunes on Jump Up.

FD13NYC said...

I also liked Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance) a good song, and a toe tapper. Rock Of The Westies was a stab at moving on for Elton, also an ambitious record, I thought it was very good at the time. Grow Some Funk still rocks.