Box set: Elton John, Classic Album Selection (1970-73)
Release date: 2 July 2012
Comprises: Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player
Universal Music will be releasing a limited edition Elton John box set, Classic Album Selection (1970-73), on July 2nd comprising five classic Elton John albums recorded between 1970 and 1973.
It contains five of Elton John’s quintessential and most acclaimed albums from 1970-1973; Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. These albums provided the backbone of Elton’s early career and were the source of a series of breakthrough hits which would propel him to become one of the most successful British artists of all time, recognised initially in America where Madman Across The Water made him the first artist since The Beatles to have four albums simultaneously in the top twenty.
Elton John was Elton’s second album, released in 1970, and it confirmed the special relationship between Elton and Bernie Taupin. It was also the first to feature the team of producer Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster and contained the songs Border Town and Your Song, the latter becoming Elton’s first UK hit, reaching no. 7 in the charts. It set the US charts alight, the album eventually hitting no. 4.
Tumbleweed Connection, with its American Old West themes in songs such as Country Comfort and Ballad of a Well-Known Gun, maintained the momentum in Elton’s career and even featured Dusty Springfield on some backing vocals. It included Elton’s wonderful rendition of Lesley Duncan’s Love Song.
Madman Across The Water followed quickly and introduced guitarist Davey Johnstone from Magna Carter as another key member of Elton’s band, alongside bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson. A wonderfully considered work featuring the song Tiny Dancer, it is blessed with lush melodramatic arrangements which perfectly compliment Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s flourishing songwriting partnership. In May of that year, Elton John formally changed his name by deed poll.
Honky Chateau, 1972, a reference to the French recording studios in Chateau Herouville, was Elton’s sixth consecutive album produced by Gus Dudgeon. It returned Elton to the UK charts where the hits Rocket Man (a UK No. 2) and Honky Cat fully established Elton’s critical and popular appeal on both sides of the Atlantic; this was the result of the combination of his flamboyant showmanship, romantic sensibilities and songcraft.
Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, released in early 1973, came in the wake of one of Elton’s signature hits, Crocodile Rock; also included on the album is the contrasting ballad Daniel (both top five entries). The album was soon to be the no. 1 one album in both Britain and America (where it was the first of seven consecutive no. 1 albums; in Britain it was the first of four consecutive no. 1s). Although his albums continued to be released by DJM in the UK for the next few years, this was the year in which Elton John launched Rocket Records at a village railway station in the English countryside. At the same time, in 1973 there was no doubting that Elton John had become a global superstar.
Elton Vs Pnau
The box set follows the release of hotly anticipated Elton Vs Pnau single Good Morning to the Night on July 2nd. Australian duo Pnau are best known for their side-project album Empire Of The Sun; Elton John signed the pair after hearing their record, and now with his blessing, a selection of his old masters will be re-imagined into an album featuring their recreations of his classic songs between 1970 and 1976.
The songs on the Elton vs Pnau album draw from six different early Elton tracks, with Pnau adding loops, samples and their own material. Elton’s summer tour of Europe will include an appearance with Pnau in Ibiza on July 2nd to promote the album, which includes the single Good Morning to the Night.
Elton remains committed to his music and to touring, becoming more rather than less busy as time passes. In 2011 Elton returned to The Coliseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas with his all-new show, The Million Dollar Piano; in 2012 he re-entered to the recording studio with producer T Bone Burnett. He has recently toured North, Central and South America and Europe.
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