Empty Sky, Elton’s debut album, and also his most honest, laid-back sounding set of songs, hit the shelves 50 years ago this month. It didn’t make much impact at the time, but it is greatly loved, both by fans, and by the people that created it.
This episode tells the story of the album through interviews with the gang of ‘lost boys’ who were credited on the sleeve – Elton, Bernie, Caleb, Steve Brown and David Larkham. In the process, their musical influences are identified, the lyrics are analysed, and the music is teased apart to reveal what lies under the surface.
In preparation for this episode, I have sequenced a 6 CD ‘possible deluxe edition’, based on what is known to exist. The first 3 CDs are discussed in this episode. They contain the stereo and mono mix of the music recorded in these sessions, alternate mixes that can be found on acetate, BBC sessions and live recordings.
The remaining CDs (full of demos, unreleased tracks, Elton's studio sessions, and covers by other artists) will be discussed in forthcoming episodes. The full tracklisting can be found in this pdf.
The image for this episode is the David Larkham photograph that was used as the basis for his cover illustration.
There’s also a rant about Rocketman...
A tribute to Elton's first musical mentor - his mother Sheila. This episode is a trip through the music of the 1950s that was dear to Sheila, to her mum Ivy, and to Reg. On the way, we take in the story of how Reg came to play the piano, and get an idea of the pieces of music that were in his early repertoire. We go all the way up to 1962, when Little Reg sees Little Richard live, and the 'Elton John' touchpaper is lit.