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

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July 22, 2019  

Episode 32 - Mysteries of Elton

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Welcome aboard the Mystery Machine, as we take a Flight of Fancy into the unknown corners of Elton's musical world. In this episode, I investigate the spookiest, dustiest corners of discogs, I search for the bootlegs that don’t even exist in our reality, and I uncover the songs that live only in the memories of people who say that they have heard them.

Several pieces of music, where the level of Elton’s involvement is disputed, are played in the episode. You can listen to the songs again, and vote, using this online form, to record your opinion as to whether you hear Elton in the music that is presented.

After a decent number of responses have been collected, this description will be updated with the results of the survey.

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... 

April 17, 2019  

Episode 30 - Listening Session with Peter Thomas

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You are invited to a very special listening session and conversation with Peter Thomas, the preeminent Elton John collector and archivist.

Peter Thomas, in his role as founder of monitor and speaker company PMC, has worked with the finest studios, mastering houses and broadcasters in the world. He has a passion for sound quality, and this extends into his hobby, which is researching and collecting Elton's earliest and most obscure recordings. 

In this episode you will get to hear some snippets of Peter's favourite acquisitions, as well as the histories around the acetates and reels of tape that carry these sounds through to the present day. 

The image for this episode is Peter's promo copy of 'I've Been Loving You', along with the handwritten release and contact details, featuring Elton's home phone number in Pinner. 

Once again I'd like to thank Peter for the wonderful generosity he has shown, sharing his time, his treasures, and his memories. 

February 19, 2019  

Episode 28 - Alternate Versions, Mixes and Edits

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This episode revels in the obscure, picking up the curios in the discography, studying them, and making an attempt at explaining them. Here are the early versions, the erroneous edits that never should have been heard, the remixes, the rough mixes and the acoustic mixes.

The highlight of this episode, for me, is the mono mix of Hymn 2000, which is played in full. Empty Sky in mono is so rare, it was thought for years not to exist at all.

You will have heard some of these, I'm sure, but I would be very surprised if you had heard them all!

January 22, 2019  

Episode 26 - Rare Masters Vol. 2 (Part 2)

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In this episode, I finish going through the imaginary box-set. First, I detail all of the non-album tracks that were released between 1984 and 1990 (CD3 of the collection that I have programmed), and I then go on to discuss the rarities that might find their way onto Rare Masters Vol. 2 (annexed off onto CD4).

If you're inspired enough to get some of your singles out, to see how they compare against the transfers I've used in this episode, let me know how it turns out. I would love to hear some improved transfers of this material. It looks like we're on our own with this stuff. Someone must have a pristine Conquer The Sun out there!

A couple of minor errors have been corrected in the accompanying document, and the audio for Episode 25 has been subtly changed to reflect this. 

October 31, 2018  

Episode 23 - Bernie’s Auction - What We’ve Learned

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In this episode, I attempt to play (and sing in one case) the three ‘new’ songs from 1967 that have come to light via Bernie’s upcoming auction. I also go through the working lyrics that Bernie is selling in New York on the 9th of November, and talk about what they tell us about Bernie’s process.

You can currently download the pdf featuring the lyric sheets here (click on the download arrow at the bottom of the page).

October 20, 2018  

Episode 22 - Caleb Quaye Interview

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I was lucky enough to be able to spend more than an hour in the company of the brilliant Caleb Quaye. Without Caleb, there would be no Elton John as we know him. He got Elton and Bernie the gig with Dick James, and it was his audacious approach to using Dick James' studio that made it possible for Elton to take his first, extraordinary musical steps there in 1967 and 1968. His guitar work is legendary - the man is essentially a virtuoso - and it's his playing that makes those first four Elton John albums sing.

Please show Caleb your appreciation by putting some money into his GoFundMe. He is raising money in order to get the rights to use some archival footage in the documentary of his life that he has put together, entitled 'Louder than Rock'. Put your hands in your pockets now - there'll never be a better chance than this to show Caleb how much you value the work and the magic that he put into Elton's career.

This episode features a slew of indescribable rarities and forgotten tracks. The image of the tape box that Caleb takes a look at with me can be found here

September 23, 2018  

Eppsisode 21 - Stuart Epps Interview

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Stuart Epps is Elton John royalty! He was a huge part of the team that worked together to bring Elton out from the sidelines of Tin Pan Alley, into megastardom. He saw that process first hand, working in a variety of different roles. Here he tells his story.

Stuart's brand new audiobook can be ordered from his website

The rarity that I play in the episode is the Steve Brown produced version of 'Take Me To The Pilot' from Olympic Studios, recorded in something like August / September 1969. 

March 4, 2018  

Episode 14 - The Songs They Gave Away

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Elton wrote a lot of incredible music over the years, in fact, more than he needed at some points of his career. This is the story of the songs that Elton gave away, either by design, or by default. Two of Elton's demos are featured - both of them are significant upgrades in terms of sound quality over what generally circulates. 

March 1, 2018  

Episode 13 - I’ve Been Loving You (For Precisely 50 Years)

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50 years ago today, on the 1st of March 1968, a 20-year-old Elton released his first solo single, 'I've Been Loving You', on Philips. Today's episode is an all-encompassing celebration of that moment, telling the story through the people around Elton, and the music they were making at the time. Two practically impossible rarities are included to mark the moment. 

February 25, 2018  

Episode 12 - Bernie’s Early Themes - ‘67-’69

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A thematic analysis of Bernie's early work, with a particular focus on his songs about incarceration and exile. One very special rarity is included. 

November 12, 2017  

Episode 5 - Don’t Say It With ‘Diamonds’

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This week, Elton released another greatest hits collection, to somehow celebrate his and Bernie's 50 year anniversary of writing together. In this episode I look at 12 'genuine diamonds' - products that would actually be essential purchases for anyone who already owns the mainstream EJ releases. In the end I just make myself a bit angry - there's so much not being released, and we get this basic greatest hits....