Elton John released his second album,Tumbleweed Connection in 1970. It was my introduction to Elton and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Not knowing who Elton was, I remember first being drawn to the album cover art. A very monochromatic, sepia tone, photo of an old country train station. The atmosphere of the photo, is very reminiscent of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, Deja Vu , which came out earlier the very same year.
I have been listening to a well done re-recording of the original master tape mixes and have come to a couple of conclusions.
Aside from a great sounding transfer into the digital world, I was struck by how many of the songs seem influenced by other bands and music that I was listening to at the time.
Although, this being a current revelation to me , I do not remember thinking about any connections to current groups at the time I first spun this disk on my cherished AR turntable. This was the Elton John I came to admire, well before the more commercial success of big hit rockers like, Yellow Brick Road, Bernie and the Jets and Rocket Man. Music I could not identify with at all! The platform heel shoes and goofy glasses did not help much either. That’s when Elton lost me……pretty much for good.
Taupin has readily admitted he was influenced by The Band , with their Music From Big Pink album. The Americana and western theme ideas are woven through out the album. Interesting, since Elton had not spent time in the US at this point. I also think there are other major influences. Try listening to Love Song and not have Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young flow into your brain hemispheres . The tune Amoreena, sounds like Leon Russell just nudged Elton off the piano bench. The west coast group of musicans which became The Eagles, were certainly listening.
I truly never noticed what now seems so obvious, the connection to other music that I and apparently , Elton and Bernie were listening to. If you have never heard this album and like me, gave up on Elton a long time ago, you should acquaint yourself with what I believe is his best work.