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    Elton John

    Related Artists - The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Queen
    Related Genres - Modern & Classic Rock

    Empty Sky 6 ( 1969 )
    Empty Sky / Valhalla / Western Ford Gateway / Hymn 2000 / Lady What's Tomorrow / Sails / The Scaffold / Skyline Pigeon / Gulliver-Hay-Chewed-Reprise

    Reginald Kenneth Dwight was a student of the Royal Academy of Music in London. His first band was called Bluesology and the name Elton John was taken by combining the names of their Sax player Elton Dean and frontman, Long John Baldry. Introduced to lyricist Bernie Taupin in 1967, Pianist and singer Elton John signed with Taupin to become songwriters for other artists. In 1969, the first Elton John album was released, 'Empty Sky'. Some of Empty Sky is Rhythm and Blues, some echoes the psychedelic pop idiom of the day, the arrangements are usually full and bold, if dated come the 21st century. It's the very baroque strings that are generally to blame but then on the plus side, you have Elton's own performance. Singing the very serious words of Bernie Taupin and giving his all vocally, he's most impressive, demonstrating a variety in terms of styles and range. Musically his ensemble are fairly tight, indeed impressive in places. Well, we've got a seven minute plus opener, some statement of serious intent in all possible terms, you would have thought? Yes, there are no hit singles or even potential ones on 'Empty Sky' perhaps why the album didn't even get released for six years in the USA and perhaps why the album never charted in the UK. Yet, and we of course heard it again from Elton in later years, the opening title track is something of a tour-de-force. Does Elton still play it live occasionally? If not, he should do. Elton's Piano is heard heavily in the mix alongside the rhythm and blues and rock n roll and his voice dominates. Too often, elsewhere on the LP, Elton seems a guest on his own album, generally impressive vocals apart. Oh, a word for the little psychedlic guitar part that rolls though the instrumental backing some three minutes in, most enjoyably. Less words for 'Val-Halla' a slight track spoilt by the very clumsy baroque pop arrangement it sits within.

    'Western Ford Gateway' sports a story-telling, americana feel, something John would certainly revisit later. Other tracks pass by without really registering until we get to the rocker 'Sails' which is a very strong performance and for the wrong reasons 'Skyline Pigeon', a slight ballad. Tacking on a brief reprise of every song on the album to boost the running time was probably misguided yet ignoring that, the closer proper 'Gulliver-It's Hay Chewed' shows off the talents of the band he had at the time. Underproduced definitely as far as 'Empty Sky' is concerned but the Jazz and rhythm and blues of 'It's Hay Chewed' is most enjoyable indeed.

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    this page last updated 21/05/11


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