Tag Archives: elton john

1001 Songs – 1973: Part Two

Child’s Christmas in Wales – John Cale

Whilst sharing the name with a work by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, John Cale’s song was inspired by it rather than set it to music. I guess like ‘Wuthering Heights’, but not as inspiring. Seriously though, having not done anything for this list in over three months.

It’s interesting to note that this is someone who worked for some serious big hitters back in the day and his album is on the 1001 Albums list… and that this appears to have been picked for the list as it is an accessible work. Honestly it was pretty milquetoast and is a bit of an odd choice for a list like this.

Solid Air – John Martyn

Whilst this is technically a folk song ‘Solid Air’ feels like a real oddball compared to a lot of the other folk out at the time. This is such a hodge-podge of different styles – some jazzy instrumentation, a bit of dreamy rock and such a chilled out feeling that it feels like this should be playing in the background of a cinematic sequence of people taking drugs and getting super mellow.

Not that all this is necessarily a bad thing, although I do wish I could understand what he was saying more of the time. Also worth noting that this song was dedicated to Nick Drake – who would die 18 months after this song was released. So sad.

I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe) – Genesis

Right, so I was disappointed that this song wasn’t about a man coming out to his wife about being a cross-dresser.

From the get-go this is a weird song in the tradition of psychedelic rock with the addition of spoken word elements. The topic is someone who is a lawnmower and is perfectly happy with this as a job despite what others say. Not entirely sure where the wardrobe comes into it – but I’m not going to press that too much.

It’s a very odd song as it combines the elements of psychedelia with more modern studio effects and an incredibly down-to-earth message. Did I like it? Honestly, I don’t really know.

Cum on Feel the Noize – Slade

I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song other than the choral chant – which I’ve never really liked. So imagine how weird it was to start on this song, realise how little of this I’ve actually heard and then end up really liking it.

In context this chorus is brilliant and works so well with the rest of the song as the high energy points, on it’s own it just feels a bit like something you’d hear chanted in a football stadium. This is the second time I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this style of rock – could this mean I may end up liking it.

Living for the City – Stevie Wonder

Why have I not listened to this song’s parent album yet. Innervisions is so high on my album list and this song is a reason why I should make that one of the next things I listen to and blog about. Stevie Wonder in this era was funk-soul magic and something I need to educate myself more in.

The version I listened to was the single edit, which cuts out the story element of the song whereby a black man escapes to New York City to try and leave behind his life of racial discrimination – only to be racially profiled by the police and sent to jail. I wish this message was ‘of the time’, but we really aren’t there yet.

I Can’t Stand the Rain – Ann Peebles

When this song started I thought I had a modern sampled version of it because of those electric timbales doing a distorted mimicry of raindrops. That must have been really weird and futuristic to hear back in 1973. That electronic riff really makes this song, and I love the sentiment of someone singing to bemoan the rain. It appeals to the British majority of my being.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

Back when I listened to the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album this was a song that struck a chord. It’s one of those songs that I have come back to again and again in the four years since. The rest of the album not so much, even though I did grow to love a lot of the songs on it.

I can’t quite pinpoint what makes this song so magical for me, but it’s something a lot of other people seem to feel as well.

Future Days – Can

For a krautrock band this is not what I expected. ‘Future Days’ is basically a precursor to ambient music and really feels like the grandfather of tracks from Air’s Moon Safari released some 35 years later (especially ‘Ce Matin La’).

I’ve been putting off Can’s entry from my album list (their earlier album Tago Mago) because I was expecting some heavier rock, but if it’s like this… then I think I’ll love it.

Progress: 389/1021

1001 Songs – 1972: Part Two

Silver Machine – Hawkwind

Starting off today’s batch of songs with a bit of space rock that helped to introduce the world to Lemmy (who, obviously, later goes on to found and front Motörhead). It’s the meshing of harder rock guitars and sci-fi bleeps and bloops that make this space rock and, therefore, an interesting addition to the list. I guess this is what happens when a prog rock and psychedelic rock are given access to electronic instruments – which means we are one step closer to the world of shoegaze… which I am looking forward to see being born.

I like a long intro in a song, but it was a bit long for something that never opened up an album. By the time Lemmy properly got into it, the song was over and it was a few bleeps and bloops left before the end. Still, it’s another one of those signposts for what was beginning to happen in 1972.

Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones

Listening to this reminds me just how much I need to listen to and cross off Exile from Main St. from my albums list. This is an album that is ranked within the top 10 of all albums ever released and ‘Tumbling Dice’ is the track chosen to represent this album on the songs list.

With ‘Tumbling Dice’ the Rolling Stones are still doing their blues rock thing, as they had been doing for nearly a decade by this point, but it’s such an interesting labyrinth of a song whose runtime is under 4 minutes. On the surface it feels it would be a bit piecemeal – there are so many changes along the way that it keeps your ear out for what is coming next. I can’t even begin to imagine how you would put a song like this together. Maybe I should listen to this album soon…

Thirteen – Big Star

I thought this song sounded familiar – Elliot Smith did a cover of this which was later released on his posthumous New Moon collection.

‘Thirteen’ is a sweet folk song about adolescence, but the earlier part of adolescence where things are still a bit more innocent. It’s interesting to hear him name check ‘Paint it Black’ by the Rolling Stones because that feels so honest to what a teenager at that time would have started to get into. On the whole it’s simple, effective and emotionally honest.

Big Eyed Beans from Venus – Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band

God, how long has it been since I listened to Trout Mask Replica. A long time, and I had forgotten how surreal Captain Beefheart could be. However, unlike anything I’ve heard of his before, ‘Big Eyed Beans from Venus’ was part of a body of work created as an attempt to create a more commercial album. This, in effect, was a leftover track from another album which then got included in their second of two albums of 1972.

It’s sticking very much with his idea of a surreal avant garde blues rock with lyrics that I can’t exactly make heads nor tails of. However, this does feel more in line with other songs I’ve heard so far in the 1972 section of the 1001 songs list. It still has the chaotic threads of a Captain Beefheart song, but it’s tempered down to the point where this feels like a mainstream compromise on his own terms.

Rocket Man – Elton John

Hands up – I cannot hear this song without thinking of the William Shatner spoken word version. Try as I might, I just close my eyes and I see Shatner delivering this as a weird trio performance.

Expelling the image of Shatner from my brain – ‘Rocket Man’ feels like a song that could have been produced if The Beatles hadn’t split up and were then finding influence from David Bowie. It’s a cool idea to write a song about the future of space travel to the point where being an astronaut is an everyday job, kind of en par with being a space trucker.

Speaking of space, this is another song from this year where space age sounds are being used to supplement rock compositions – and this is 10 years after ‘Telstar’ did a lot of the intial leg work.

Mama Weer All Crazee Now – Slade

Looking at the album cover of Slayed? I swear that Noddy Holder has always looked like he was at least in his 40s. Also, like people, the main thing I know Slade from is ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, so any other songs of theirs can feel a bit jarring.

With ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ it’s clear that metal and glam rock is about to explode from it’s confines within the wider genre of hard rock, but the time isn’t uite yet. It’ll only be a year before this songs list sees that spillover and temporarily take over the air waves before punk and disco become firmly established. It’s a full body adrenaline rush of a song that must have killed when played live. I guess we’ll see how this develops further when ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ arrives in 1973.

Rocky Mountain High – John Denver

Well at least I won’t be having to sit through ‘Annie’s Song’ as part of the songs list. I know it’s famous and well loved, but it’s really been overdone (as the choir episode of The Vicar of Dibley would tell you).

Like how ‘City of New Orleans’ was a love letter to the railways of America that were under threat, ‘Rocky Mountain High’ is John Denver singing about his love of the Colorado mountains. It’s full of beautiful images of the mountains and watching the sunset whilst enjoying the countryside. Towards the end of the song, he turns on the tourists who are ruining his beloved Rockies which does wack you in the face… in a good way.

The Night – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

This shows my ignorance, but I didn’t realise that Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons lasted past the end of the 1960s. Let alone move towards the Motown family of record labels and craft something quite like ‘The Night’.

Not mincing words, but I thought that ‘The Night’ was extraordinary. This is a piece of blue-eyed soul with Phil Spector style of production. I mean, this hits so many things that would make me love a song. A dark song with beautiful harmonies and a massive production that just gives off hints of menace. This is such an about turn from ‘Working My Way Back To You’ that to call it a maturation in their sound is underselling it. Just such a pity that it never really took off in the US.

Reelin’ in the Years – Steely Dan

I guess it was the name that gave me this idea, but I always figured Steely Dan would be a metal act. So here I am girding my loins for something more in the realm of Slade, but instead I’m getting what would have happened if The Beach Boys had decided to make their music move towards the hard rock sub genre.

This is described as jazz rock in the book (which means yet another sub-genre of rock that I need to keep track of) and I am keen to see how this genre develops as I really liked the softer rock, the harmonies and the more upbeat blues structure. They have a few albums in the Acclaimed Albums Top 1000… which further illustrates the need with me to speed the hell up.

Always on My Mind – Elvis Presley

The timing of this song feels like something from a Hollywood biopic. Elvis separates from his wife Priscilla and within weeks is recording a song about how he should have been a better husband. The problem that I have is that despite the situation, Elvis’s version feels somewhat detached. Other artists would have been able to use this as an opportunity to unburden their feelings – but Elvis is a singer, not an artist, and there is a fundamental difference there.

I can see why, for the narrative, this version of the song is on the list – but better versions have since been done by Willie Nelson, the Pet Shop Boys and Loretta Lynn.

Progress: 363/1021

Music Monday: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 42/250Elton_John_-_Goodbye_Yellow_Brick_RoadTitle: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Artist: Elton John
Year: 1973
Position: #144

I had real trouble with this album. After listening to Blue Lines heavily in the previous week (which was then supplemented by Air’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack) I had a real reluctance to go back in time again to something unknown. I even had an album in mind for this week’s entry… but I’m going to sit on that for a little longer since it is precariously perched at the end of this list.

Something that did not help with getting into Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the sprawling opening track that just bored me silly. By the time it was over and the familiar piano of ‘Candle In The Wind’ started to play I was done with this and was ready to bring in Joanna Newsom to tide me over for another week.

A few days later I decided it was time to give Goodbye Yellow Brick Road another go and started at track two so I would not be coloured again by ‘Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)’. Instinctively I have given the original version of ‘Candle In The Wind’ a wide berth due to the mass hysteria that the re-tooling was able to tap into. The fact is, that this song was never really about Diana, or even about Marilyn Monroe, but about how we have a tendency to revere those who die young. There’s a barb to it… which actually makes it interesting that this became the song of mass mourning. With the barb intact it’s actually a good song.

The rest of the album follows on well there, but it does peak two tracks later with the title track ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. The falsetto chorus is just so amazing that it is a shame he can’t perform it properly anymore. I struggled for a while to remember where I had heard this recently, and then it hit me… American Hustle. It’s one of those songs that hits you immediately with it’s production and how generally great it is. I had that moment when listening to ‘The Boxer’ not too long ago. This is a song that has just stuck with me.

In terms of highlights you really just need to look at the singles. ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’ are songs that most people will know from life… even if it is from places like Futurama or The Vicar of Dibley. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the real launch of Elton John’s career and where the sphere of his influence started. I mean listening to this I kept being reminded of people like the Scissor Sisters who came later. I wonder where this Elton John went…