Tag Archive | Elton John

Video Clip of The Week: Elton John, “Step Into Christmas”

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, when Rock & Roll was still chart-topping genre rather than something that people over age 40 get nostalgic about, popular bands doing Christmas-themed songs was a thing that I enjoyed. While many of my holiday favorites fall into the pop-ballad category — the gloriously maudlin “Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters, or Emerson Lake and Palmer’s appropriately stoic “I Believe in Father Christmas” spring instantly to mind — there are a few modern standards that truly rock out. Which brings us to this week’s Video Clip, Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” — a song that John recorded with his original band in 1973! You probably weren’t even born yet.

This extremely rare performance footage was originally broadcast in 1973 as part of The Gilbert O’Sullivan Show. After its original broadcast, the footage was lost in the ITV archives and has only recently been unearthed. Featuring Elton alongside his classic band line up of Davey JohnstoneDee Murray (RIP) and Nigel Olsson (with a rare cameo appearance from Bernie Taupin on percussion) in all of their Glam Rock glory, the clip has not been seen since it was first aired.  The “Step Into Christmas” single originally charted at No. 24 in the UK single charts, and  reached a peak chart position of No. 11 again in 2017. As you can hear, the song simply refuses to date.

“Step Into Christmas” is available now as a three track digital EP featuring both the original single and its  B-side of “Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas)”,  plus the audio performance from the Gilbert O’Sullivan Show. Enjoy!

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Eye On Design: Platform Boots Worn By Elton John

EJ Boots
All Photos By Gail

In the 1930s, companies like Delman and Ferragamo popularized chunky sandals and shoes. The trend continued during and immediately after World War II in shoes produced in materials that were not restricted by rationing, such as cork, woven straw, and wood. British brand Biba proposed platform sandals for women that emphasized the individualistic, expressive flare characteristic of that decade’s fashion accessories — an attitude that men confidently adopted as well. Inventive and sometimes flamboyant, platform shoes were favored by musicians in the late twentieth century. In the 1970s especially, lavish platform boots in bright, metallic, or shiny materials intensified the glamorous look of male pop and rock stars including David Bowie and Elton John.  These metallic silver and red leather boots bearing John’s initials were co-designed by Elton himself and Lionel Avery in 1974.

EJ Boots

Club Kids wore multicolored platform shoes to raves in the 1990s, and pop sensations the Spice Girls made them fashionable, especially for young women. In the twenty-first century, platform shoes have reached new heights in the work of designers such as Alexander McQueen and Noritaka Tatehana.

EJ Boots

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Recommended Listening: American Hustle Soundtrack

American Hustle Album Artwork

Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!

It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”

Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.

Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.

Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.

But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.

Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.

American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:

1.    Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington

2.    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John

3.    White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa

4.    10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra

5.    Live And Let Die | Wings

6.    How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees

7.    I Feel Love | Donna Summer

8.    Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

9.    Delilah | Tom Jones

10.  I’ve Got Your Number | Jack Jones

11.  Long Black Road | Electric Light Orchestra

12.  A Horse With No Name | America

13.  Stream Of Stars | Jeff Lynne

14.  Live To Live  | Chris Stills

15.  Irving Montage | Danny Elfman

Morrison Hotel Gallery Presents The Melody Maker Photography of Barrie Wentzell

Jimi Hendrix Color Portrait By Barrie Wentzell
Apparently, Jimi Hendrix Always Dressed Like This (all Post Photos By Gail, Click any Image to Enlarge)

Every picture tells a story. During his career, Photographer Barrie Wentzell collected an endless cache of unheard stories from and about many of rock’s greatest legends that would blow your head right off. From 1965 to 1975 – certainly one of the (if not the) most vibrant and fertile decades for Rock & Roll music and culture — Wentzell shot both live performance and candid, intimate photographs of everyone who was anyone: from Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles to The Kinks and Led Zeppelin for the UK weekly music rag, Melody Maker.

John Entwistle and Pete Townshend By Barrie Wentzell
John Entwistle and Pete Townshend During Recording Sessions for Tommy

His pay was about 20 pounds per week, but Wentzell will tell you even today that his dream gig during the Golden Age of Rock & Roll was never about the money; it was about the experiences he had with these artists.

Early Yes
An Early Incarnation of Yes

Right now, you can view a small portion of Wentzell’s extensive and wildly impressive career legacy at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in the comprehensively entitled exhibit, Melody Maker: The Best Years, 1965-1975, The Photography of Barrie Wentzell. Most of these pictures have never been published or viewed by the public. In fact, Wentzell admitted that, prior to staging the exhibit, he’d not viewed the majority of these photos since he first took them. And that is just shame, because his pictures are transcendent.

Ray Davies Plays Pool By Barrie Wentzell
Ray Davies Plays Pool

Pete Townshend with Toys By Barrie Wentzell
Pete Townshend & Friends

I have seen many, many great rock photography exhibits and I must say that this is the first one where the words “Fine Art Rock Photography” – which is what Morrison Hotel Gallery is known for – really resonated with me when experiencing Barrie Wentzell’s photos. The oddest reaction I had was while silently gazing at a black and white photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, taken while both were still in their early 20s. They just looked so young and unjaded, with their entire lives and careers ahead of them. I thought about the first Elton John songs I ever heard, like “Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters,” “Mad Man Across the Water” and “Sixty Years On.” And unexpected tears of deep nostalgia welled up in my eyes. It was embarrassing to dork out in public like that, but it was also such an amazing feeling to be so fully transported back to a time when Rock Stars meant everything to me. Barrie Wentzell’s work is truly as magical as the music of that era.

Jimmy Page Color Portrait By Barrie Wentzell
Jimmy Page

Read more about Barrie Wentzell, and view some of the photos in this do-not-miss show, at This Link.

Barrie Wentzell with Pete Townshend Photo
Barrie Wentzell

Morrison Hotel Gallery is Located at 116 Prince Street (Loft) and 124 Prince Street (Store Front) in NYC’s Greenwich Village.

David Bowie By Barrie Wentzell
David Bowie

Cat Stevens By Barrie Wentzell
Cat Stevens

Led Zeppelin Live

This Photo of Led Zeppelin In Concert Fully Captures the Energy of the Performance in a Static Medium. Amazing.

See the Photo that Made Me Cry After the Jump!

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Lyrics of The Day: Elton John, "Better Off Dead"

Elton John Better Off Dead Single Cover Art

There was a face on a hoarding that someone had drawn on
And just enough time for the night to pass by without warning
Away in the distance there’s a blue flashing light
Someone’s in trouble somewhere tonight

As the flickering neon stands ready to fuse
The wind blows away all of yesterday’s news

Well they’ve locked up their daughters and they battened the hatches
They always could find us but they never could catch us
Through the grease streaked windows of an all night cafe
We watched the arrested get taken away

And that cigarette haze has ecology beat
As the whores and the drunks filed in from the street

‘Cause the steam’s in the boiler, the coal’s in the fire
If you ask how I am then I’ll just say inspired
If the thorn of a rose is the thorn in your side
Then you’re better off dead if you haven’t yet died

Better off dead, Better off dead
Better off dead, Better off dead
Better off dead, Better off dead
Better off dead, Better off dead
Better off dead!

Elton John’s Captain Fantastic Album Goes Platinum!

Elton John Captain Fantastic Cover

On This Date, May 17th in 1975: Elton John was awarded a Platinum Record for sales of One Million copies of his Ninth studio album, Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy. Captain Fantastic was the first album ever to be certified Platinum on the day of its release.