I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Elton John Podcast

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August 29, 2020  

Episode 35 - ‘Elton John’ at 50 with John Higgins

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Enormous thanks to John Higgins - Feature Writer for the eltonjohn.com website - who came onto the podcast to share his love for the 'Black Album', and to tell me some of the stories that he'd been able to hear during interviews that he carried out with Paul Buckmaster and Gus Dudgeon about their work on the project. 

We listened through some 'mixes' that I've made of the tracks, making use of the separate channels in the 5.1 mixes, which I feel make for a pleasing new outlook onto some of Elton's densest material. 

Apologies to anyone who's been waiting on an episode, or a reply from me. There are several excuses in the episode, I won't repeat them here. 

Part two of this interview will be up very soon! 

February 1, 2020  

Episode 34 - Fantasy Residency and More Songs They Gave Away

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In this episode I apologise for my absence; make some excuses; review the autobiography, in a limited sense; talk about the way that the book, the film and reality interact in one case; accept that I was wrong in another; mentally stage a residency, made up of Elton's deep cuts; all before the main event, which is a follow up to episode 14 - The Songs They Gave Away. In that sense, it's a bit of a grab-bag.

Prepare for the familiar to sound very different, in the hands of other artists, and also for some songs that (I hope) you won't have heard before. 

June 17, 2019  

Episode 31 - Empty Sky at 50

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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... 

March 21, 2018  

Episode 15 - Ego at 40

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24 months passed between the recording sessions for Crazy Water, and those for Elton's next (major) single, the angry, jagged Ego. From the sound of the record, Elton hadn't been able to find much solace in the interim. Ego twists with the energy of a tantrum. It's dark and humourous, petulant and self-mocking, all at once. 

Backed with Flintstone Boy, a lightly subversive slice of queer country music, this single was Elton's state of the nation address for Spring 1978, and a real artistic statement. Unfortunately for Elton, punk had come, the new wave was in the ascendancy, and younger record buyers were not looking in his direction. For their part, Elton's own fanbase were alienated by the lack of a singable hook in the song. Released 40 years ago today, Ego stalled at number 34 on both sides of the Atlantic.

This episode is a celebration of this vital single release. Part biography, part musical analysis, the episode looks at 1977/1978 Elton, and these two songs, from every conceivable angle. 

The episode takes some of its shape from the excellent Elton John biography 'Captain Fantastic' by David DeCouto

The two centre extractions that I talk over can be heard in full on my new YouTube channel

 

February 10, 2018  

Episode 10 - The One - 25 And A Half Years On

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Elton came back from rehab stronger than ever at the end of 1991. Here, in review, is the album that he brought back from the brink with him. The context, the music, the lyrics, the instrumentation - it's all given the analysis it deserves in this episode

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