Friday, July 17, 2020

Elton John 14: Here And There

Five years and eight albums since his last live album, Here And There presented a side each from two different concerts from 1974 with the classic Elton John Band with Dee Murray, Davey Johnstone, and Nigel Olsson. It was initially intended as something of a contractual obligation in the UK, with “here” being London and “there” being New York City, but the quality of the music elevates it above stopgap status.
The London show is said to be a retrospective through the years, beginning with “Skyline Pigeon”. The band kicks in for the end of “Border Song” and gives percussionist Ray Cooper three minutes to play a duck call solo in the middle of “Honky Cat”. “Love Song” is a surprise, particularly as it is performed, as on the album, as a duet with writer Lesley Duncan. “Crocodile Rock” is just plain playful, as usual.
He sounds a little hoarse on the Madison Square Garden side—understandable, as he’d been on the road for two months already—but he has the first half of “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” to rest up. “Rocket Man” and “Bennie And The Jets” inspire lots of cheering, and while “Take Me To The Pilot” doesn’t have the power of its initial live version, it’s still loaded with energy.
Given the repetition from the hits album and its presenting only a handful of tunes, Here And There was easy to overlook. That changed with the remaster rollout of the mid-‘90s, which more than doubled the program, devoting a full CD to each of the shows. The London show includes even more gems from the past, including further selections from Tumbleweed Connection and even “Bad Side Of The Moon”. Along with more hits and the Muscle Shoals Horns for “You’re So Static”, it turns out the New York show was the same one where John Lennon made his surprise (and final) stage appearance, and those three songs are now included in the proper context. Yes, “Take Me To The Pilot” and “Your Song” now appear twice each, but is that such a bad thing?

Elton John Here And There (1976)—3
1995 CD reissue: same as 1976, plus 16 extra tracks

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