Weekly CD Reissue: Elton John


Regimental sergeant. Zippo it’s great. The album opens with “When I Was Tealby Abbey”: psychedelic, string-infused pop easily as good as early Blossom Toes or a Mark Wirtz confection. As the album progresses, what was absorbed is evident. The zombies are in there. “And the Clock Goes Round” has the rolling piano frame of “She May Call You Tonight” by The Left Banke. “Turn to me,” winks at the Bee Gees. It is obvious that “Regimental Sgt. Zippo “is. To take it further into the fabulous world, some of the wonderful” A Dandelion Dies in the Wind “suggest” Across The Universe “(unpublished at this point).” Tartan Colored Lady “has a Hollies” Dear Eloise “feel The wild and windswept “Nina” would have been perfect for Barry Ryan.

This is a major thing. If an Elton John album in this sense had come out around the middle of 1968 it might not have sold, but it would have become as sought after as the albums from Honeybus, The Zombies, etc. But her March 1968 debut single “I’ve Been Loving You” – stylistically unlike anything here – flopped, so it’s surprising that an album was on the cards. Elton John’s next release was the January 1969 single “Lady Samantha”. Empty sky album followed.

than a pre-Empty sky the album was mentioned is no secret. In 1972, Elton John spoke at length with Zigzag John Tobler of the magazine. He said: “Bernie Taupin and I wrote prolifically… total garbage, but prolifically. I was doing song demos and we made an album out of it. There were songs like ‘Regimental Sgt, Zippo’ and ‘Watching the Planes go by’, but of all the songs from that era, only a few have emerged; there’s one called ‘The Tide Will Turn for Rebecca’, a Johnny Mathis type thing that [actor] Edward Woodward recorded and “I Can’t Go On Living Without You”, which [music publisher] Dick James took part in the Eurovision Song Contest. Dukes Nobleman and Guy Darrell also recorded Elton John co-writings in 1968.

He recorded these songs after failing an audition with Liberty Records in June 1967. A demo session was undertaken, but no contract was offered. However, the label rep gave him lyrics from an inexperienced lyricist named Bernie Taupin. They started to work together. At the time, he was still Reg Dwight. A chance meeting with Caleb Quaye – they had been in the Bluesology group together – led John to a recording studio. Quaye worked as an engineer in Dick James Music’s in-house studio which, according to the interview with Tobler, had a two-track recorder. Unbeknownst to the owner, they began recording at the New Oxford Street facility. James found out, was duly annoyed and yelled “who the hell are Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin?” Hearing what had been recorded he was soothed, signed the duo and put them to work, hoping that the Quaye, Dwight, Taupin team would generate songs that his publisher could place with artists. recording. This is the period Regimental sergeant. Zippo taken from.

elton john portugal ep 1968Whether this was called in 1972 “an album” is debatable. No proof is provided that this is a truly unreleased album. All songs except one are taken from last year’s ones Jewelry box box. It sounds like the remarketing of the pieces from the box, and it is likely that all 12 pieces were put together in one place as they were full band recordings from the Dick James period rather than piano-voice-only demos, and how they are stylistically articulated. .

What’s here dates from the same period as Elton John’s first single, released in March 1968 (he ceased to be Reg Dwight just before that). The upper side of the 45, “I’ve Been Loving You,” was a string-infused mid-tempo ballad with a mainstream pop vibe recorded in December 1967 – that’s OK, not psych, kinda like what Blue Mink would do. later. His blues oriented flip “Here’s to the Next Time” has brass and was in the Stax lineage. Strong enough. But again not psych. A contemporary Portuguese EP (photo top left) included two other tracks: “Thank You For All Your Loving” (catchy and influenced by soul) and “Angel Tree” (soul-ish again, but with a bubble-gum-psych bounce à la Paul McCartney). It was all sound proof of what Elton John sounded like in 1968 and with the exception of Angel Tree “it’s not psychedelic pop collected on Regimental sergeant. Zippo. He was trying on different styles for the size.

“Angel Tree”, as previously only issued in Portugal, is included on the new Regimental sergeant. Zippo. Digging fans will know. In fact, they will already know most of the tracks here as before. Jewelry box, with the exception of “Nina” and “Watching The Planes go by”, they were on the two interesting bootleg CDs from 1992 Dick James Demos (on the photo at the bottom right). And of course everyone except “You’ll be sorry to see me go” were on Jewelry box together. It is not uncharted territory.

elton john dick james demos vol 1Between these demos and the “Lady Samantha” /Empty sky period, Elton John stayed busy. Covering his bets, he worked on sessions for low cost cover release albums from at least May 1969 until the summer of 1970. His recognizable voice was at the forefront of the “She Sold” releases. me Magic “by Lou Christie,” Come and Get it “by Badfinger. and much more. In 1968 and 1969 he was also a session player on singles from Tom Jones, The Barron Knights, Family Dogg and The Hollies. He was on “Gin Gan Goolie” by The Scaffold. If his solo career hadn’t resumed, he might have stayed behind the scenes in the music industry.

This take on Regimental sergeant. Zippo is a what if: what if Elton John had become a psychedelic popster in 1968? Unfortunately – and this information can be included in the Jewelry box set – there is nothing about specific recording dates or sleeve notes. It’s sloppy. It would have taken little effort to go further. Mysteriously, the back of the cover gleefully indicates that it is “2021 mixes”. Why was this done? What was done? How? ‘Or’ What?

Even so, and although it doesn’t convincingly present itself as an unreleased album for real, this Regimental sergeant. Zippo is a winner. “Total garbage,” Elton John said in 1972. Pshaw.


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