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Just over 40 years ago Elton John toured the old Soviet Union. One of these concerts was broadcast live in the UK on BBC radio 1 on 28th May 1979. I recorded the concert on cassette and played it endlessly for years. He was my first inspiration as a Piano player, so to have an almost (Ray Cooper joins him on percussion in the 2nd half) solo concert was heaven for me. In particular I loved the 11:47 version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine. 10 - 15 years ago I lost the facility to play cassettes so I haven't been able to play the recording since.
For RSD (Record Store Day) 2019 a limited edition 40th anniversary double vinyl version of the concert was released. I didn't buy this, tempting as it was, as although I have a turntable I have issues with space and to be honest it needs to be fed through better speakers than I have. Happily a double CD version is being released in January next year, which I've pre-ordered. The release features all bar 2 of the songs from the original concert. One omission is obvious - in the opening song of the show Elton makes a mistake and smudges a note on the Piano in the version of "Your Song". A very rare thing!
You can hear the concert version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" here:
It features quite a few of Elton John's trademark Piano styles and techniques. The pumping octave left-hand, great rhythm playing and doubtless a little bit of improvisation. He is a very broadly based Piano player, who can play a variety of styles. Not a virtuoso in the classical or Jazz sense, but a solid technique that is perfect for what he does (one of the best songwriters of the last 50 years). His voice was also still in great shape in 1979.
If I was being picky I could have done with a little less of the effects (phasing, voice echo etc), but these haven't been added for this release, they were there originally.