An affectionate and detailed look at the music of Elton John, by a fan - not a fanatic
Episode 42 - Jewel Box Companion 1: Bernie's Letter
1:05:00The first of six 'Jewel Box Companion' episodes. It's taken me a while to get to grips with all of the extra new material and versions that we have been treated to. I've boiled it down into six relatively short playlists, and I'm going to be introducing them, one by one, and providing a little context and interpretation where I can. 'Chapter 1' is focused on the first set of lyrics, sent by Bernie to Liberty Records in June 1967, in response to their call for talent. It features some short snippets of an interview that I have carried out with Elton's first manager, and Elton and Bernie's matchmaker: - Ray Williams. The full interview will be coming up soon. The playlist for this first episode can be viewed here. There are links there for you to listen on the major streaming services, but here they are anyway: Spotify - - Apple Music - - YouTube Music. It's not mentioned in the episode, but I've also chorded out the songs for any musicians out there. Drop me a line on [email protected] if you'd like to have a look.
Episode 41 - Old Friends
1:07:12It's the 50th Frenniversary! Elton's 4th album was a pick-and-mix, with three pastoral pop songs from the same mould as the Elton John Album, two spiky rock songs that kept the Tumbleweed rolling, and a 10 minute long Buckmaster-stroke, thrown in for good measure. While it is an uneven listen, it contains some of Elton's finest music. The album gets some of the respect that it's due in this episode, by way of interviews, reviews, rare audio, and covers.
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Episode 40 - Tumbleweed Connection at 50 (part 2) with John Higgins and Peter Thomas
2:09:42Here we are at last! This is the concluding part of the Tumbleweed Conversation I had with John Higgins, Elton's Legacy Consultant and Feature Writer at eltonjohn.com, and Peter Thomas, founder of pmc-speakers.com and Elton collector extraordinaire. Once again, I invite you to accompany us on our ramble along the timeline, all the way to the Troubadour. The image from the episode comes from this current auction, which is for a set of handwritten 'Parish Magazines', written and illustrated by Bernie and his brother Tony in 1960-61, that are packed with references to the Wild West. This is where the legend began! In the intro, I mention a possible identity for the 'Well-Known Gun', but I should have mentioned this Dylan song as well, which was an obvious source for Bernie. No wonder Bernie had a 'fake heart attack' when Dylan told him how much he enjoyed the lyric!
Episode 39 - Tumbleweed Connection at 50 with John Higgins and Peter Thomas
1:55:27I am very thankful to John Higgins, Elton's Legacy Consultant and Feature Writer at eltonjohn.com, and Peter Thomas, founder of pmc-speakers.com and Elton audio expert, who both joined me for this episode of the podcast. We got together for a marathon conversation (this is just part one), where we untangled the various strands of the timeline that brought the Tumbleweed Connection album into being. You will hear some of my almost-instrumental 'mixes' (they make use of the 5.1 release) which are designed to throw the songs into relief. You will also hear some of the stories behind the songs, a great deal of love for the album, all topped off with some casual, Elton-related banter.
Episode 38 - Tumbleweed Connection Covered
1:26:02It's all go in Eltonland! The label have marked the 50th anniversary of Tumbleweed with a reissue of the album on green vinyl, plus an entirely unexpected companion 10" single, featuring the unearthed almost 8 minute long original version of Come Down in Time, backed with a full band DJM demo of Ballad of a Well Known Gun. Everything is available, along with a range of Tumbleweed merch, over at the EltonJohn.com shop, and John Higgins' fascinating anniversary article about Tumbleweed can also be found there now. Since the album is often felt to be the musician's Elton John album, I thought it would be interesting to go through some of the cover versions of these songs, and to make up my own playlist of my favourite covers. You may have very different choices - please let me know on the Facebook group or by email if I haven't picked or played your favourites. I'll be back with a fuller breakdown of Tumbleweed at some point in the future. If you want to listen to the YouTube playlist without me bleating all over the songs, it can be found here.
Episode 37 - 'Elton John' at 50 (Part 2) with John Higgins and Skaila Kanga
2:06:38Here's the rest of my track by track breakdown with John Higgins of the 'Elton John' album. The album lit a fuse. Four and a half months later, Elton exploded at the Troubadour. John and I got to talk about some of the strides and the mis-steps that were taken along the way. John is Feature Writer at www.eltonjohn.com as well as Elton's Legacy Consultant. Elton fans can thank him for the exceptional 50th anniversary articles he's been writing, and show him love and eternal recognition for finding a way, alongside Daryl Easlea from Universal, and others, to make the upcoming box set 'Elton: Jewel Box' a reality. Also starring in this episode is the delightful Skaila Kanga. We talked about her harp work on the 'Elton John' album, her musical history, and her time in the classroom with Elton. Skaila has worked with essentially everyone over a hugely successful career, and she was still extremely busy when we spoke, back in March Skaila's been keeping busy during the enforced hiatus from live and studio work: she's been posting some lovely seasonal videos of her harp playing over at her YouTube channel.
Episode 36 - Jewel Box Joy
22:35Well it's finally happened. I've got pretty much everything I've ever asked for, and probably a bit more. In this quickie episode, I dip into the mind-bending rarities track-list, and talk about what's new and what's not. All of the details can be found at the Elton John website.
Episode 35 - 'Elton John' at 50 with John Higgins
1:40:58Enormous thanks to John Higgins - Feature Writer for the eltonjohn.com website - who came onto the podcast to share his love for the 'Black Album', and to tell me some of the stories that he'd been able to hear during interviews that he carried out with Paul Buckmaster and Gus Dudgeon about their work on the project. We listened through some 'mixes' that I've made of the tracks, making use of the separate channels in the 5.1 mixes, which I feel make for a pleasing new outlook onto some of Elton's densest material. Apologies to anyone who's been waiting on an episode, or a reply from me. There are several excuses in the episode, I won't repeat them here. Part two of this interview will be up very soon!
Episode 34 - Fantasy Residency and More Songs They Gave Away
1:14:32In this episode I apologise for my absence; make some excuses; review the autobiography, in a limited sense; talk about the way that the book, the film and reality interact in one case; accept that I was wrong in another; mentally stage a residency, made up of Elton's deep cuts; all before the main event, which is a follow up to episode 14 - The Songs They Gave Away. In that sense, it's a bit of a grab-bag. Prepare for the familiar to sound very different, in the hands of other artists, and also for some songs that (I hope) you won't have heard before.
Episode 33 - Anett Murray Interview
1:24:56This episode starts off with a Rocketman competition, courtesy of Paramount Home Media (here is the prize pack that's up for grabs) before the main event, an interview with Anett Murray, wife of Dee Murray, and a big part of the Elton John family during the first half of the seventies. Anett tells us some fascinating stories of life at home and on the road with Dee. I would like to thank her for sharing her memories with the podcast. Add in some wonderful music, and we have here a very special episode! The photograph that Anett mentions, of her wedding day, can be found here. If you're on Facebook, consider joining the 'Induct Nigel, Davey and Dee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame' group. There are countless wonderful pictures like this one, and you can also help the cause for these musicians to be properly recognised for the enormous contribution that they made to Elton's music. The songs that are excerpted in the episode are as follows: You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover - Bo Diddley, 1962 I'm In A Different World - The Four Tops, 1968 (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson, 1967 Space Oddity (Vocal, Drums and Bass only) - David Bowie, 1969 And The Gods Came Down - The Spencer Davis Group, 1970 Sitting Doing Nothing - Elton John, 1968 Take Me To The Pilot (BBC Live Session) - Elton John, 25th June 1970 Burn Down the Mission (Live Fillmore East) - Elton John, 21st November 1970 Jawbone - The Band, 1969 Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (Live Hammersmith Odeon) - Elton John, 23rd December 1973 Philadelphia Freedom (Live Central Park) - Elton John, 13th September 1980 Burning Buildings - Elton John, 1984 Rocket Man (Keys, Guitars and Bass only) - Elton John, 1972. The email address to enter the competition is [email protected] Unlike what I say in the episode, the competition is in fact open to residents of the US or Canada.