Spin #39 : Elton John : Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Musicians on Album: Elton John (vocals, acoustic piano, rhodes piano, farfisa organ and mellotron), David Hentschel (synths), Davey Johnstone (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, backing vocals), Dee Murray (bass guitar, backing vocals), Nigel Olsson (drums, congas, tambourine and backing vocals), Ray Cooper (tambourine), Del Newman (orchestral arrangements), David Katz (orchestra contractor), Leroy Gomez (saxophone), Kiki Dee (backing vocals)
Elton John : Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Year Released : 1973 Produced by Gus Dudgeon Label: DJM Price Range: $30AUD+ Speed: 33 1/3RPM Album Before : Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (1973) Album After : Caribou (1974) Further Listening : Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) LP : 2 x black LP, lyrics printed on a tri-fold sleeve Mood for enjoying: There truly is something for everyone on this album. Songs to feel sad and songs to get you up and about dancing
LP 1 Side A -
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding - 11:09
Candle in the Wind - 3:50
Bennie and the Jets - 5:23
Side B -
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - 3:13
This Song Has No Title - 2:23
Grey Seal - 4:00
Jamaica Jerk-Off - 3:39
I've Seen That Movie Too - 5:59
Side C -
Sweet Painted Lady - 3:54
The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34) - 4:23
Dirty Little Girl - 5:00
All the Girls Love Alice - 5:09
Side D -
Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll) - 2:42
Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting - 4:57
Roy Rogers - 4:07
Social Disease - 3:42
Harmony - 2:46
What's in the Sleeve ? 2 x black LP in a tri-fold jacket, lyrics and sketches/photographs printed. Lovely overall production.
"And each day I learn just a little bit more. I don't know why but I do know what for. If we're all going somewhere, let's get there soon. Oh, this song's got not title, just words and a tune" ~ This Song Has No Title -Side B
Welcome to Spin #39 - Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Welcome to R'nR With Rylo! First of all, I hope you enjoyed last weeks spin - 'Ashes of the Wake' by Lamb of God. If you haven't read it yet, click here. This week Night Kat Kiz and I have chosen an absolute classic and it is regarded as a magnum opus in the Elton John discography. This week we are spinning the amazingly ambitious, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'. It is getting closer to the end of the year and with that brings more stresses for some, as the holidays aren't always a happy time. If you are blessed enough to have your loved ones close at this time of year, make sure to let them know how much you love them. If you don't, then you always have us here at R'nR - just reach out.
For this Spin I have used Our Sherwood Turntable (PM-9805) and Sherwood Receiver (RX-4508), complete with 4 x Sherwood Bookshelf speakers spaced evenly across our loungeroom. Time to sit back and relax and come along on this journey for our #39 Spin!
Sir Elton Hercules John
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
If you came to me and said, "Rylo, want to play Elton John trivia?" I'd have to say no because I have absolutely no idea about his story. I do however own a few of his records and this one we are spinning tonight was one of the first I had the chance to add to the collection. I liked the artwork and didn't even have to look at the track listing before making this purchase back in 2014. There was just something about this record once I held it in my hands that said, "purchase".
The opening track, or combined tracks of 'Funeral for a Friend' and 'Love Lies Bleeding' have a total track length of over 11 minutes! 'Funeral for a Friend' starts things off with a lengthy and ominous instrumental introduction. It sounds like it could have been used in an 80's sci-fi cult classic before rolling into the jammy sounds of 'Love Lies Bleeding'.
'Candle in the Wind' was later dedicated to the late Princess Diana when she passed away in 1997 and John had changed the lyrics to suit. The lyrics from the original are actually about Marilyn Monroe. This song shows how much struggle someone has to go through just to keep up the façade of fame and fortune. Such a sad song, especially when you go through the lyrics, "Even when you died. Oh, the press still hounded you".
The last song on Side A and providing such a contrast compared to the song before is 'Bennie and the Jets'. As this track comes on, our son is sitting with his headphones on listening to paw patrol or something from The Wiggles. He is relaxed and having fun, even if he isn't listening to the spin. Our daughter hasn't been feeling well so she has been in bed for this one. I'll have to show her 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' when she is feeling better. 'Bennie and the Jets' is high of energy and full of life and was recorded in front of a live audience. I like that you can hear all the cheering and clapping throughout the song. "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit. You know I read it in a magazine, ohh-oh". John has such a wide range on this song and the electronic sounds coming through the speakers along with his piano playing is so clean. Time to flip the LP over to Side B.
The opening track on Side B is 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'. Click here to see the Top of the Pops recording. This is the title track of the album and it is such a slow ballad. I really love it when John sings "So goodbye yellow brick road, where the dogs of society howl. You can't plant me in your penthouse. I'm going back to my plough. Back to the howling, old owl in the woods. Hunting the horny-back toad. Oh I've finally decided my future lies, beyond the yellow brick road". Tying the Wizard of Oz with this song was always going to be a winner and combining that with the artwork on the front of the record jacket - pure genius. Who doesn't like the Wizard of Oz right!
'This Song Has No Title' is the second track on Side B and has a clever title which actually is a title! I think John has put together a cohesive and complimentary band in Johnstone, Taupin, Murray and Olsson. The label has gone to great lengths with this packaging and probably one of the best lyric layouts that I've seen on a record. 'This Song Has No Title' is another piano ballad but more uplifting when it gets to the chorus. I appreciate this song a lot more than when I first heard it, not sure why.
The next track on Side B is one of my favourites with its larger than life chorus and upbeat sound, especially that opening piece of piano work by John. The song that I'm talking about is 'Grey Seal'. "And tell me grey seal, how does it feel, to be so wise. To see through eyes that only see what's real". I just remember that I loved this track on first listen back in 2014 due to the mood and feeling it creates with the bassline and drums.
Up next is the Caribbean feeling 'Jamaica Jerk-Off' which makes you want to get up a dance. It has a funny title and really relaxes you as you are being told to. "Come on Jamica, In Jamaica all day. Dancing with your darling, Do Jamaica jerk-off that way". John wanted to have this album recorded in Jamaica but had to be changed to where the band had previously recorded in France. It worked out well because France became the catalyst of inspiration for a lot of this album. Who knows, if they had of recorded this album in Jamaica, would we have this magnum opus and would Elton John be as famous?
The final track on Side B is the lovely sound of, 'I've Seen That Movie Too'. This track starts off with the smooth jazz sounding intro before the drums of Olsson come in. John is telling his love that he can't be fooled, "So keep your auditions for somebody. Who hasn't go so much to lose. 'Cause you can tell by the lines I'm reciting, I've seen that movie too". Probably my favourite track on the album - love the feeling behind this one and you can sing along to it easily. Our son is starting to roll his monster trucks around the room now as we listen along. He is such a clever kid and I can see his mind working as he builds a ramp for them. Sometimes it's just nice to put on a record and watch the world moving around you and this song pairs with that mood perfectly. It is time to remove LP1 and put it back in the polyplastic and getting ready with LP2. Put it on the platter with Side C facing up, give it a quick brush and get ready to drop the stylus.
'Sweet Painted Lady' has more of a saloon sounding tune to it and is about a woman referred to as the sweet painted lady. A happy tune but sad lyrics about selling herself for a living. This is where I feel the album starts to run out of steam a little bit but still nice on the ears. The seagulls and waves come through the speakers cleanly as the song fades out.
Now the next song on Side C is actually Taupin and John having a go at creating a song about a false gangster. 'The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34)' has so much going on within the lyrics that are cleverly crafted. Follow along the lyrics as this track plays because it is an interesting story, even if it isn't real. A quote that I live by, as it makes me think so much every time that I say it or think of it,
"Mans greatest tragedy is that we get Old too soon and Wise too late".
The funky, groovy, and bass heavy song of 'Dirty Little Girl' starts coming through the speakers in the room. This track feels very laid back and rolls along nicely. Not my favourite song but still works on the album. Probably a bit more of a filler track for me.
The next track, 'All the Girls Love Alice' has an faster tempo and I feel it has better sounding vocals by John. At least, I feel it does compared to the last couple of tracks. There are some very risque lyrics on this record and I was a bit surprised actually. I like the lyrics of, "Poor little darling with a chip out of her heart. It's like acting in a movie when you got the wrong part". Time to lift the stylus and flip the LP over to Side D.
'Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll)' is easily one of the better songs on this album and really picks up the pace for me as the end of the record approaches. Incredible fact is John taught himself to play piano at the age of 3 and I was thinking about that fact whilst listening along to this track in particular. That is the same age of our son currently (almost 4 in a couple of weeks). Maybe I should put him in front of a piano and see if he is a natural tickler of the ivories. This track has definite surfy/carnival vibes towards the end.
A huge single from the album is up next in 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting'. I will have to watch that recent film that stared the actor from Kingsman. I've heard good things about it and if they do it well and true to the story of Elton John, then I will learn a lot. I like the piano slide, the collaboration of the band and the energy that this one has. The lyrics that stand out to me on this one would be, "Well they're packed pretty tight in here tonight. I'm looking for a dolly who'll see me right. I may use a little muscle to get what I need, I may sink a little drink and shout out "She's with me".
"Sometimes you dream, sometimes it seems there's nothing there at all. You just seem older than yesterday, and you're waiting for tomorrow to call" are the lyrics that start off the next track, 'Roy Rogers'. I really enjoy listening to this track as I've been listening to a lot of country/western style musicians lately. This one really flows nicely and would be my second favourite song from 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'.
'Social Disease' starts off with a very quiet build up and some nice use of the banjo by Johnstone. There are some funny lyrics on this song and like how they have paired this song with the one before. Our daughter is still asleep and the poor thing must be feeling not well at all. Our son is now building a cubby house in the front room our of bed sheets and books - great imagination. I like the lyrics of, "My landlady lives in a caravan, well that is when she isn't in my arms and it seems I pay the rent in human kindness, but my liquor also helps to grease her palm".
The last track on this album is returning back to the ballad sounds in, 'Harmony' with John behind the piano and commanding the stage. A love song about a girl named Harmony - "Harmony and me, we're pretty good company, Looking for an island in our boat upon the sea. Harmony, gee I really love you and I want to love you forever and dream of the never, never, never leaving harmony". The final sounds roll through the speakers before the stylus hits the dead wax and tells me that we have come to the end of another spin.
Thanks for taking the time to join us on this Sunday Spin #39 - 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton John. One day when we have a dedicated music room, I will have a lot of records in frames or posters of classics on the wall. This one for me has such an iconic cover that it will be considered worthy of the wall. No matter how busy our lives get or if we are delayed on releasing the MWSP, we will always find time to find some R'nR time. Remember to get out in nature and focus on the things in your life that bring a smile on your face. Next week I have chosen something a little different and probably not what you were expecting.
Until our next Spin, be Kind to piano players and be Kind to your Wax!
Elton jumping as he plays, showing of his skill