11-17-70 (Elton John) – Album Review

The Front Cover

The Front Cover

This live album is incredible. Not because the performance sets a standard to judge all future live records in the history of music by, but because what you listen to here is so divorced from the concept of Elton most people have that it is all frankly startling.

11-17-70 was recorded before a small audience. It has roughly 45 minutes of music, 20 which are taken up by a long “Burn Down The Mission” jam that has interpolations of “My Baby Left Me” and “Get Back” thrown in for good measure.

Elton plays backed by Dee and Nigel only (that is, bass and drums). The energy they display in general, and the stamina Elton has in particular is admirable. His piano skills are highlighted so markedly that any fan of the diminutive British pianist can be but hypnotized. And there was something which I found quite funny: Elton even sounds a bit nervous when he addresses the public!

The album has 7 tracks. Besides the lengthy “Burn Down The Mission” Elton plays “60 Years On”, “Take Me To The Pilot”, “Can I Put You On”, “Amoreena” and the B-side “Bad Side Of The Moon”. A far cry from the “best of” live album Elton released a couple of years ago (“One Night Only”).

And a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” might as well be the album’s highest point.

From what has been said, it is clear that this is the type of album fans swear by. Such a recording places the focus on Elton as a performer when he was not forced to play AOR songs at every turn, and who had to rely almost solely on his piano to get the show going from start to finish. And – above all – it portrays Elton as a performer that could raise the roof even when he was playing songs which were not hits that saturated the airwaves. As the one and only document of this tenor within Elton’s catalog, I strongly recommend it.

And just in case you are wondering, this is the complete set Elton played that night:

1. I Need You To Turn To
2. Your Song
3. Country Comfort
4. Border Song
5. Indian Sunset
6. Amoreena
7. Bad Side Of The Moon
8. Take Me To The Pilot
9. Sixty Years On
10. Honky Tonk Women
11. Can I Put You On
12. Burn Down The Mission / Get Back / My Baby Left Me
13. My Father’s Gun

Rating: 8/10