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Elton John – Concertstück (Super Sonic SS200012)

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Concertstück (Super Sonic SS200012)

Royal Festival Hall, London, England – February 5th, 1972

(50:07)  Your Song, Take Me To The Pilot, The Greatest Discovery, Sixty Years On, The King Must Die, Indian Sunset, Border Song, Madman Across The Water, Burn Down The Mission, Goodbye

Concertstück contains a fifty minute fragment of the soundboard from Elton John’s second orchestral show.  Super Sonic released this title in 2000 claiming to be the March 3rd, 1971 show which would be the first appearance.  This is in reality from the following year, February 5th, 1972 (“Indian Sunset” and “Madman Across The Water” weren’t played in 1971).  This is the same tape issued in 1997 on Philharmonica Freedom (PB1).  The sound quality is excellent however but has edits between the various numbers to fit the broadcast.  “Tiny Dancer,” which followed “Sixty Years On” is unfortunately missing from the broadcast. 

John opens the concert solo. He is then joined by Nigel Olsson, Dee Murray and the debut appearance of Davey Johnstone as a member of the Elton John Band. The band is augmented by Alan Parker (guitar) and backup singers Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan & Caroline Attard.  The first fourteen songs of the set have yet to appear on tape and include:  “Rocket Man,” “Honky Cat,” “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters,” “Holiday Inn,” “Can I Put You On,” “The Greatest Discovery,” “Love Song,” “Mellow,” “Suzie (Dramas),” “I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself,” “Amy,” “Salvation,” “Hercules,” and “I Need You To Turn To.”

The tape picks up when John is joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Buckmaster.  Rock-classical hybrids are a mixed bag and do not work most of the time, either because the orchestra simply isn’t audible over the amplified music or because the arrangements written for the orchestra are too limited by pop sensibilities.  But this must be one of the more successful collaborations simply because the orchestra is given an authentic voice in the music.  Most beautiful are the use of the woodwinds and brass in the arrangment of “The Greatest Discovery.”

“Sixty Years On” is dramatic with a gorgeous interlude on violins and violas in the middle reminiscent of a Vivialdi emotional tirade.  “Indian Sunset” is a bizarre collection of images of the American Indian tribes but the best performance on this disc is the long ”Burn Down The Mission.”  The song reaches a climax with the gospel/Pentecoastal section by the end of the song.  Overall this is a good release although it would be great if someday the entire show with the John solo section and “Tiny Dancer” were to surface and be released.    

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