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SF Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times (iii)

Another for Judith Reader in the Wilderness‘s meme.

This week, the remainder of my SF hardbacks. Click pictures to enlarge them.

More Ian McDonald, China Miéville, Christopher Priest, Keith Roberts, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Silverberg, a book of Art Deco posters which fits in nowhere else.

Science Fiction Hardbacks (iii)

On another shelf entirely, standing next to the above. This contains books by my not so secret SF vice, Harry Turtledove, plus one Gene Wolfe, among others. Above, on its side, is a book containing illustrated Bernie Taupin lyrics for early Elton John songs:-

Science Fiction Hardbacks (iv)

Reelin’ In the Years 144: Sixty Years On/Have Mercy on the Criminal. RIP Paul Buckmaster

Master musical arranger Paul Buckmaster died last month. I only got to know about it when his obituary appeared in the Guardian. I first knowingly encountered Buckmaster’s work on Elton John’s second album Elton John but I had heard it before on David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Buckmaster’s importance to the overall sound of that eponymous album is most to the fore on Sixty Years On. I hadn’t heard anything like that on a pop record before (not even from The Beatles) except possibly for the orchestral backing to Simon and Garfunkel’s Old Friends on the Bookends album.

Elton John: Sixty Years On

Elton’s next two studio albums Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water also used Buckmaster’s arrangements to great effect as did his film score for Friends but his presence was missing on Honky Chateau. Elton turned to Buckmaster again with the stunning Have Mercy on the Criminal from Don’t Shoot me I’m Only the Piano Player.

Elton John: Have Mercy on the Criminal

Paul John Buckmaster: 13/6/1946 – 7/11/2017. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 104: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

For some reason last week’s featured song always merges into my head into this one by Elton John (from his Honky Chateau LP.)

The mandolin on this is great.

Elton John: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Live It Up 11: I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues

Another of the good lady’s favourites. I bought the album Too Low For Zero for her Christmas that year on the basis of this.

The track is an almost perfect latter day popular song, with a great Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. I especially liked the lyrical echoes of Amoreena from Tumbleweed Connection.

It’s also unusual in the John canon for giving a writing credit to Elton’s long time guitarist Davey Johnstone.

Elton wears a wig with a quiff in this. It suits him!

Elton John: I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues

Reelin’ In The Years 52: Border Song

Elton John’s next single came out in 1970. It was the gospel influenced Border Song from his second LP Elton John. Border Song almost tickled the UK charts. In fact Elton sang it on Top of the Pops as a single “bubbling under” – as they said in those days. Such an appearance was something which usually presaged a surge in sales for the next week. With Border Song the opposite happened. Whatever the reasons for this decline (beyond a tendency to didacticism in the last verse) the fact that the song’s hook, “Holy Moses!” wasn’t its title and its title didn’t appear in the song must have contributed. I can still imagine folk walking in to record shops to ask for “Holy Moses” only to be told it didn’t exist.

Border Song does showcase the variety in Elton’s song-writing at the time though.

Elton John: Border Song

A You Tube clip of Elton singing Border Song live is apparently the earliest video of him still to survive.

Friday On My Mind 76: Elton John!

Ah me. Does anyone else remember the delights of Lift Off With Ayshea? This was a late 60s late afternoon ITV pop programme which didn’t feature only hits and was presented by Ayshea Brough, also known as Ayesha, one of the first women of Asian heritage to present a British TV programme.

From the date of release of the first song here it may have been the earlier Discotheque – on which Ayshea also appeared – where I first caught sight of Elton John (a hirsute, fleece-jacketed, very young looking Elton John) for he did first record under that name in the 60s. But I remember him as being introduced by Ayesha.

This was Elton’s second single, the haunting Lady Samantha, which got a fair amount of radio airplay but apparently sold only 4,000 copies.

I have searched in vain for the relevant clip – even for a reasonably good version of the song. The closest I came was this.

Elton John: Lady Samantha

Elton’s subsequent song It’s Me That You Need I liked even better. I didn’t manage to get hold of either of them till a few years later when both songs were on the reverse of the 1972 single Honky Cat (which I bought purely for these.)

It’s Me That You Need

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