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Music Review: Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection

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Tumbleweed Connection is not one of the more familiar albums in the Elton John catalog. This may be due to the fact that it contained no hugely successful or memorable hit singles. What it did present, however, was an album of solid songs that deserve more exposure than they've received.

The album is noted for its excellent production which allows the acoustic guitar playing and particularly the piano work to shine. Just about each note is crystal clear, providing a stunning background for the vocals.

Tumbleweed Connection is above all an intimate affair that allows the listener to connect to the music on a personal level. The sound just envelops you and draws you in.

“Ballad Of A Well Known Gun” is a bluesy rocker that begins the album on a positive note. This story about a gunslinger at the end of his life is a lost Elton John gem.

“Come Down In Time” is a nice ballad but is also a rare song in that there is no piano present. It is an acoustic guitar sound that propels his gentle vocal along.

“My Father’s Gun” is an epic Civil War tale by a master storyteller (Bernie Taupin). This story of sailing down the Mississippi comes alive through the artistry of Elton John.

“Love Song” is another unusual track, especially at this time in his career, in that it was not written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Penned by Lesley Duncan, the tune is another beautiful ballad with an acoustic guitar in support. Elton’s vocal skims lightly along the surface of the backing sound.

“Talking Old Soldiers” is another song of looking back at youth, this one featuring an emotional vocal that tells the story of a lonely veteran. The piano provides the musical foundation and moves the song along nicely.

“Burn Down The Mission” — arguably the album’s best-known track — is a grand epic and is almost cinematic in scope. This track would be a part of John's stage act for years and its tempo changes are among the most interesting of his entire career.

Tumbleweed Connection is mostly a peaceful album yet there are some surprises along the way. The songs fit together well and still provide a nice listen 39 years after its release.

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About David Bowling

  • Excellent review, David. You picked the perfect Elton John disc to review. It was released at a time when he wasn’t yet “Elton” the mega-star, the personality, the image, the overblown shadow of what he once was. On Tumbleweed, we get to hear him (and Taupin’s lyrics) at a more innocent time when they were more interested in making music than making myth. Nice job.