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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Elton John

Tumbleweed Connection

Review by Gary Hill

This early Elton John album shows the man as a real artist. The arrangements here are quite intricate and involved and this is very much a band based project. Speaking of the band, the personnel on this one include some of the EJ regulars, but there is an interesting addition in the form of Mick Ronson on the closing bonus number. 


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun

A bluesy rocking tune, this is a quite a tasty piece of music. There’s a definite down home element to this cowboy ballad.

Come Down In Time
This is a powerful folk oriented ballad. It’s got a very jazz meets progressive rock arrangement built into it. It’s a cool cut. With a lot of classical instrumentation, it is quite delicate and intricate.
Country Comfort
Folk music and country mix in this singer songwriter styled ballad. A pedal steel guitar solo lends a lot of country to the mix. 
Son Of Your Father
This rocker has a lot of blues and some funk in the mix. It’s closer to the type of rock EJ did in the 1970’s, but I can also make out hints of the first Aerosmith album here. It’s a cool tune and a good piece of variety. 
My Father's Gun
The introduction here is a lushly arranged motif that almost feels like progressive rock. The track moves out from there into a poignant balladic fashion. This is evocative and powerful and one of my favorites on the set. It’s more in keeping with the music that Elton John did in the mid part of the 1970s. The arrangement takes on more layers of sound and gets quite involved later. 
Where To Now St. Peter?
This rocker has some funk in the mix. It’s also got a good helping of blues. I think there’s a lot of progressive rock here, too. It’s a good tune. 
Love Song
This is an intricately arranged, artsy sort of cut. It’s very close to a folky progressive rock. I like this one a lot and consider it to be a highlight of the set. 
Amoreena
A rocker, this has some blues built into it. It’s quite an involved and intriguing piece of music. At times it reminds me of “Take Me to the Pilot.” There are some definite hints of prog rock on this number. 
Talking Old Soldiers
A piano based ballad (in fact, this stays strictly piano and vocals), this is pretty and quite evocative. It’s mellow and yet powerful. The lyrics are awesome. 
Burn Down The Mission
This classic Elton John number is one of the highlights of the set. The arrangement is quite involved and is probably the closest to some of his later music. Still, I can make out elements of progressive rock and some of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” here. The arrangement has a lot of layers and instruments. The fast paced sections on this make me think of Rock of the Westies, or at least something from around that period. 
Into The Old Man's Shoes
A balladic cut, this is somewhat along the lines of some of the later Elton John music. It’s the first of two bonus tracks included here. There are some intriguing sounds and movements and again, the lyrics are so poignant. 
Madman Across The Water
The title track to Elton’s next album, this is the second bonus track presented here. This rendition features an extended guitar solo from Mick Ronson. It’s a great piece of music that really showcases the 1970’s rock sound. There’s also plenty of progressive rock on this nearly nine minute extravaganza. I can definitely make out a lot of Traffic here. It’s one of the real standouts of the set.
 
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