My Playlist: Rockin’ Elton

Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin primarily are known for great pop songs they wrote, especially during John’s most productive period during the first half of the ’70s. Your Song, Rocket Man, Daniel and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are some that come to mind. Occasionally, they also came up with more rock-oriented tunes. I thought it would be fun to put together a playlist focused on the latter.

Rock and Roll Madonna

Rock and Roll Madonna was released as a non-album single in Britain in June 1970. It didn’t chart. Even though the beginning and the end sound like a live recording, the audience noise was added, a technique John would use again some four years later for Bennie and the Jets, one of his various chart toppers in the U.S. and Canada during the 70s. Rock and Roll Madonna featured Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover.

Crocodile Rock

Crocodile Rock first appeared in October 1972 as the lead single for John’s sixth studio album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player from January 1973. The tune, which has a late ’50s and early ’60s flair, became John’s first no. 1 single in the U.S. In 1974, a lawsuit alleged John and Taupin had illegally copied the falsetto of Speedy Gonzalez, a song that been popularized by Pat Boone in 1962. The case was settled out of court.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting perhaps is my favorite rocker by Elton John. It appeared on the excellent Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, his seventh studio album from October 1973. It also was released separately in June that year as the lead single. The tune prominently features Scottish rock guitarist Davey Johnstone, a longtime collaborator who had become a full-time member of John’s band for his fifth studio album Honky Château released in May 1972.

The Bitch Is Back

Another nice rocker is The Bitch Is Back – sounds like it could be the title of Stones song. The tune was recorded for John’s eighth studio album Caribou from June 1974. It also became the record’s second single in August of the same year. Dusty Springfield sang backing vocals.

Pinball Wizard (Tommy soundtrack, March 1975)

Obviously, Pinball Wizard isn’t a John-Taupin song, but I just couldn’t leave it out. I almost like this excellent cover better than the original by The Who. When I heard John’s version for the first time, I thought this is how Pete Townshend should have written this rock gem instead of what feels like arbitrarily fading out the song at less than 3 minutes. John’s cover is part of the soundtrack for the 1975 film version of Tommy, in which he also starred, along with numerous other music artists like Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and the members of The Who.

(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket

Two months after the film version of Tommy had been released, John’s ninth studio album Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy appeared in May 1975. It features (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket, another great rock tune.

Grow Some Funk of Your Own

The ’70s were a very productive period for John, especially the first half, during which he released nine albums. Rock of the Westies was John’s second studio record in 1975, which appeared in October that year, only five months after Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy. Here’s Grow Some Funk of Your Own, for which Davey Johnstone received a co-writing credit. The song was also released separately in January 1976 and became the album’s second single.

I’m Still Standing

I’d like to wrap up this playlist with the only track that’s not from the ’70s: I’m Still Standing, from Too Low for Zero, John’s 17th studio album that appeared in May 1983. Coming on the heels of four less successful records, especially compared to his releases during the first half of the ’70s, Too Low for Zero marked a comeback. It ended up being John’s best-selling album of the ’80s. I did like it at the time and still do. Here’s I’m Still Standing.

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube

11 thoughts on “My Playlist: Rockin’ Elton”

  1. Boy, it’s nice to see a fellow blogger give Elton the respect he deserves. A great rocker and overall musician. Good picks, not all of which I know. I’ve written about old Reg a few times but never a six-pack. I will do that after my RC series and credit the King of All Tribute Bands for inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jim. While I had mentioned Elton John on various occasions, it took me 4.5 years to dedicate a post to him. It was definitely overdue.

      Recently, I listened to the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. Lots of great stuff on that record. It’s what inspired this post in part.

      I’m definitely planning to do more on Elton. Lately, I hardly find time to focus on music and the blog – not mention reading posts from fellow bloggers!

      I saw you’re doing a series on Ray Charles. While I’m not an expert on Ray, I’ve always loved his music. There was something very special about him. Looking forwarding to reading that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rock and Roll Madonna? I never heard of that one Christian…thanks! In the early to mid-seventies, Elton was about as hot as someone could get…Beatles hot. Him and Taupin’s songs still stand to this day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi. On your list of Elton’s great rock and roll tunes, I think you could add both “Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again), which was a B-side on one of the original singles releases of “Jack Rabbit”, and is also a bonsu track on re-releases of the Don’t Shoot Me album; and “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock and Roll) from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed this post as I’m an Elton John fan. I love almost all of the songs on this list. I’m pleased to see the obscure track ‘Rock & Roll Madonna’ as well as ‘(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket’ which I think is one of Elton’s best songs.

    Liked by 1 person

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