Elton John celebrates Record Store Day anniversary with vinyl

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“Happy 10th birthday to Record Store Day,” Elton John tells all, via video, below. “I love record stores, I can go to the record store in Vegas and spend 3 hours in there. Just the smell of it, the looking at it, the wonder of it, the memories. I love vinyl so much; the tactile nature, the ritual of it, looking at the sleeve…especially with the old albums and the liner notes – who played on them, the process of putting it on, the needle going on and the sound coming out. And it DOES sound better, I know it does! It’s just the wonder of having vinyl.”

For Record Store Day’s 10th Anniversary, John releases a special “17-11-70.”

Elton John explains: “The album ‘17-11-70’ was not meant to be a live one at all; we did one of the first- ever stereo radio broadcasts live at A&R Recording Studios in New York City in 1970 on the 17th of November. It was Phil Ramone’s studio, one of the greatest producers of all time, and we just went in the booth and played it as a three-piece: Nigel Olsson on drums and vocals, Dee Murray on bass and vocals, and myself. There was a studio audience of about 100 sitting outside the booth, hearing it coming through the loud speakers, and we just played. I’m astonished by how good we were, listening to this record. A lot of it was improvised, and you can do that when you’re a three-piece band because I’m really the lead instrument, and Dee and Nigel were so brilliant at following what I did. There’s a 16-minute track on it that was completely improvised, more or less, and I’m very proud of it: I think it’s one of the greatest live albums ever made. It wasn’t initially coming out as a live album, but there were so many bootlegs in those days that the record company put it out. I’m glad they did because it really is something I’m very very proud of.”

In November 1970, Elton John performed an intimate concert at A&R Studios in New York, recorded for WABC FM. In front of 125 people, Elton played in his then three- piece line up of himself, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. Intended for broadcast only, its pristine quality – engineered by the legendary Phil Ramone (the ‘R’ in A&R Studios) – meant that the recording of the performance became a fast- selling bootleg. Sales were so great that it had to be rush-released as 17.11.70 on DJM Records in April 1971, capturing six of the concert’s tracks on a single album.

However, 17.11.70 often seemed a footnote in Elton’s history, overlooked in contrast to his invincible run of studio albums (and he was productive – this would be his fourth album in two years). By the time he’d become a superstar a handful of years later, when 17.11.70 was picked up in the racks, the track titles confused all the new Crocodile Rockers and Saturday Night Fighters.

17.11.70 is a fascinating artefact: this is the Elton that America fell in love with at the start of their long affair; it offers pure, stripped back performances of those off-kilter, beautiful songs written with Bernie Taupin that invented Americana long before it became a thing.

The album was originally released on May 10, 1971 and entered the Billboard album charts onMay 29, peaking at No 11. Elton was the first artist since the Beatles to have four albums charting simultaneously in Billboard’s top 100 albums. Incidentally the live photos on the front and back covers of the album were shot at Elton’s first ever shows in America, at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles, a performance that has gone down in history.

This special exclusive Record Store Day edition of 17-11-70 + reinstates six further songs from the concert and thus it is, at last, the most complete edition of the show available. The version of ‘Amoreena’ here has never been released on vinyl. This is a record of which Elton is tremendously and rightly proud. With its mixture of originals and then-recent covers (Elton takes on the Stones, the Beatles and Elvis as if to say ‘I’m going to be joining you at your level soon’),17-11-70+ is a perfect capture of the warmth, humour and showmanship of a 23-year-old on the brink of international fame.

Track listing:

A1      Take Me To The Pilot

A2      Honky Tonk Women

A3      Sixty Years On

A4      Can I Put You On

 

B1      Bad Side Of The Moon

B2      Burn Down The Mission (Incl. My Baby Left Me / Get Back)

 

C1      Indian Sunset 
                           Previously unreleased bonus track

C2      Amoreena 
                                Newly remixed bonus track

 

C3      Your Song 
                                Previously unreleased bonus track

D1      Country Comfort 
                       Previously unreleased bonus track

D2      I Need You To Turn To 
             Previously unreleased bonus track

D3      Border Song 
                             Previously unreleased bonus track

D4      My Father’s Gun 
                       Previously unreleased bonus track

 

Elton John will be playing a series of UK & European dates beginning June 3rd. For more information: https://tour.eltonjohn.com

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