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Music Review: Elton John – Elton John

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Sometimes I forget about this old album by Elton John, which is my loss as it's a pretty good listen. Elton John was issued in April of 1970 and was his second studio album but first to be released in the United States. His debut, Empty Sky, was released in England but would not see the light of day in America until 1975. This self titled album would be surprisingly successful as it reached number four on the American charts while Rolling Stone Magazine ultimately ranked it number 468 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

While Elton John was a product of its time, it maintains a simple and enduring beauty. Catchy melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and superb piano playing all combine to make it an quality effort.

It's hard to believe that 39 years have passed since “Your Song” was released. This haunting love song marked his first U.S. hit and remains a testament to the idea of what's simple is best.

Two other well known songs grace this release. “Border Song,” which is another simple tune that focuses on the vocal and piano, is about peace and tolerance. “Take Me To The Pilot” has undergone a number of incarnations over the years. Here it is the first great rock track of his career complete with a gospel-tinged vocal. I’m still not quite sure about the meaning of the lyrics, but it remains an excellent early effort.

There are several other interesting songs that have now disappeared due to his huge and impressive catalog. “I Need You To Turn To” may be a little too serious but the use of the harpsichord is creative and unique. “The Cage” has an almost funky sound similar to early Santana. “Sixty Years On” is an introspective song about aging from a man in his twenties. I am curious as to what he thinks about this early lament now.

Elton John is often a lost album due to his many classic releases that followed it. However, if you want to explore the music of Elton John in depth then this is the place to start.

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About David Bowling

  • Flyvice

    Actually, the first Elton John album I ever purchased was 17-11-70, at an outdoor market in England (along with Bolan Boogie, and Cocker Happy – pretty good day, I’d say). I’d heard “Your Song” of course, but I wasn’t prepared for the energy on the live album. I’m a big believer that live albums can tell you more about how seriously a band takes its music, and I still prefer those versions of “Take Me To The Pilot,” “Sixty Years On,” and “Burn Down the Mission” 38 years after the fact. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the studio versions too, however I’ll beinterested to hear your comments about 17-11-70 when you get to it.

  • dani

    i think empty sky has a few great songs on it, and the titile track is one of my favorite elton songs. i highly recomend checking it out.