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

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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

 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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February 14, 2018  

Episode 11 - The Greatest Covers

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If you like Elton John songs, then you'll probably like these relatively obscure renditions of Elton John songs, by musicians who tried to do something original with the material. 

 

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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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December 31, 2017  

Episode 9 - At Home With Sheila and Reg

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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.

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December 11, 2017  

Episode 8 - Dee Murray Love-In

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Dee Murray was a truly innovative force in the Elton John band. In this episode I look at what made him special, from the jigsaw puzzle of ideas that Dee and Elton threw around in the 3-piece band; taking in the almost-soul of Philadelphia Freedom; and beyond, into the 1980s. A biographical, loving, and detailed look at the work of the man that made the music we love even lovlier. And all of this without mentioning his incredible backing vocals once (ooops). 

Homemade bass transcriptions from YouTube are used throughout to highlight the parts – thank you so much to:

Enormous thanks also to Brian for the interview.

 

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November 25, 2017  

Episode 7 - Reconstructing ‘A Song For Europe 1969′

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I attempt to piece together the weekly Saturday evening TV shows, hosted by the impish Lulu, that led up to the UK's selection being made for the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest, and follow up the progress of the careers of the six sets of songwriters who got through to that final stage. Whatever became of them?

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November 18, 2017  

Episode 6 - Cool As Christmas - Collaborations That Make Elton Cooler

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Elton's not always seen as a particularly cool musician to be a fan of. Lots of well-respected artists have no problem associating themselves with him though. In this episode, I go through those collaborations and connections, and pick out the ones, some more obscure than others, which, I feel, elevate Elton's position as an innovative creative force. 

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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....

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November 3, 2017  

Episode 4 - It Was 40 Years Ago Today, Grumpy Elton Sacked The Band On Stage

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This is the story of the band that Elton essentially sacked, live on stage, entirely out of the blue.

40 years ago, Elton played a charity gig at Wembley Pool. The band were expecting him to announce that he was going out on tour again, with them as his backing band. A very different announcement was made. In this episode we work out what led Elton to make that decision. 

Here's a picture of the band in question. Here's the setlist.fm page for the night. Here's the full show on YouTube.

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