[Review] Elton John: 11-17-70 (1971)

This is Elton’s best live album: a radio broadcast featuring just piano, bass and drums recorded before he became a big star.

Kronomyth 4.0: The red side of the moon.

This is his Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and Ya-Yas, a live set that sweats testosterone charisma. Captured live as the Elton John juggernaut was just building up steam, 11-17-70 features only Elton and the rhythm section that would propel him through the rest of the decade: Nigel Olsson on drums and Dee Murray on bass. Elton comes crashing out of the gate with a tempestuous version of “Take Me To The Pilot” and takes no prisoners for the next forty minutes. Everything on here outstrips the original in terms of energy and execution, from the recent “Burn Down The Mission” and forgotten Friends track, “Can I Put You On,” to the classic “Sixty Years On” and a lost B side, “Bad Side of the Moon,” that will blow you away.

It didn’t get great reviews, didn’t go gold, could be considered kind of stingy even, but among Elton live albums (admittedly a leprous lot) this is the one to own. The bluesy, ballsy, barrelhouse performance from Elton is larger than life; the audience on hand may have been a hundred-odd souls, but he clearly had in mind the thousands tuned in to radios and millions more who would crash down the gates to see a white English kid in glasses tear it up like the second coming of Little Richard.

Copping of the Stones and Beatles? No doubt presumptuous to some, prescient to others. The measure of a star is how brightly it shines in the black void around it. Elton shines on 11-17-70 like a great ball of fire, and any adhesion of the “star” label hereafter was merely a formality.

Original LP Version

A1. Take Me To The Pilot (6:43)
A2. Honky Tonk Women (Mick Jagger/Keith Richard) (4:09)
A3. Sixty Years On (8:05)
A4. Can I Put You On (6:38)
B1. Bad Side of the Moon (4:30)
B2. Burn Down The Mission incl. My Baby Left Me (Arthur Crudup) / Get Back (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin unless noted.

Expanded CD reissue version
1. Bad Side of the Moon (4:57)
2. Amoreena (4:54)
3. Take Me To The Pilot (5:55)
4. Sixty Years On (7:22)
5. Honky Tonk Women (4:02)
6. Can I Put You On (6:10)
7. Burn Down The Mission incl. My Baby Left Me / Get Back (18:26)

The Players

Elton John (piano, vocals), Dee Murray (bass), Nigel Olsson (drums). Produced by Gus Dudgeon; recording engineered by Phil Ramone; mix engineered by David Hentschel. Co-ordination by Steve Brown; concert conception and co-ordination by Joe DiSabato.

The Pictures

Design and photography by David Larkham.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette, 8-track and reel-to-reel on April 9, 1971 in the US (Uni, 93105/2-93105/8-93105/STU 93105), the UK (DJM, DJLPS-414) and Germany (Hansa, 85 268 IT). Reached #11 on the US charts and #20 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and 8-track in the UK (Pickwick, SHM-942/H8 314) with unique cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in the US (MCA, 2015).
  3. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in 1979 in the US (MCA, MCA/MCAC-619).
  4. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1995 in Japan (Mercury, PHCR-4014).
  5. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 1995 in the US and the UK (Rocket, 528 165) with 1 bonus track.
  6. Re-released on 20-bit expanded remastered compact disc on September 27, 2001 in Japan (Universal, UICY-9103) with 1 bonus track.
  7. Re-released on super high material compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Universal, UICY-93667).

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