Japanese-only SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) paper sleeve pressing of this classic album from the British singer/songwriter and entertainer, originally released in 1971. SHM-CDs can be played on any audio player and delivers unbelievably high-quality sound. You won't believe it's the same CD! Universal. 2008.
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One of the all-time great live albums
Johnny Boy | Hockessin, DE | 07/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In late 1969, word caught on about a English singer-songwriter named Reginald Dwight. He had released several cover albums worth of stuff in the late-1960s under his stage name Elton John (these albums can be found here on Amazon: Search "Elton John 1969-1970" and you'll get some results) and in 1969, he landed a deal with Polydor Records. He released his debut LP that year, 'Empty Sky,' which went largely unnoticed in all areas of the world.
What a difference a year makes, however. By 1970, Elton John had released his sophomore album, which was self-titled, and it sold very well. Featuring the hit single 'Your Song' and the popular album track 'Take Me to the Pilot,' the 1970 album proved to be quite a turning point for 23-year old Elton's career.
Eventually, America caught on about Elton, realized his talent, and on November 17, 1970, Elton took the stage to a crowd of about 150 people at a local radio studio for a short live performance. Little did anyone know the impact this live performance would have on the young and fledgling John's career.
Fans and critics raved about John's performance at this radio show; by early 1971, it was widely bootlegged. Eventually, to satisfy the bootlegger's and the rapidly-growing Elton fans, Polydor Records, Elton's label, released the concert on an album called '17-11-70' (now retitled '11-17-70' for the CD reissue).
There's the background on this performance. Read on for the review.
To this day, this is in my opinion the best Elton John live album (although 'Live in Australia' comes close -- but that's another review). The sound cannot be beaten. It's incredible. Elton's band is clearly having a blast, and despite the small crowd, clearly they are as entertained as one could be by the young Elton. Right from the moment fellow DJ Dave Herman introduces Elton to the stage to open the album (and the show), you know this is going to be something special.
The best version of 'Take Me to the Pilot' appears on this album, with Elton just singing his heart out and pounding the crap out of the keys on his piano. Clearly the crowd is really enjoying Elton's showmanship here, and more importantly, his incredible playing skills too (Elton knows how to play the keys -- no denying it).
A fascinating cover of the Stones' 'Honky Tonk Women' is also here. This cover is an interesting one, no doubt, definitely one of the better Rolling Stones cover songs out there (believe me -- the Stones are one hard band to cover). Elton sings with great range here, and his band (as always) supplements him quite nicely as well.
But the real highlight is the finale. 'Burn Down the Mission' in all of its 20-minute glory. 'Tumbleweed Connection' would not be released for another month, so at the time of this show, this song was unheard of. But boy, does Elton and company jam. The piano playing on this version is AMAZING -- proving what a wizard Elton is behind the piano, and also showcases Elton's backing band as well. This is truly one of the all-time great moments in rock and roll's live concert history.
Overall, if you do not own '11-17-70' yet, buy it NOW. This live album made me an Elton John fan, and I will almost guarantee you, it will make you one too. The playing here is perfect, Elton is in tip-top shape, and this proves that Elton could really do it all -- play like a virtuoso, sing brilliantly, and entertain the crowd despite its small size. This was the album (if you ask me) that truly showcased the young Elton's skills and proved that he was going to be a star for a long time.
However, if I may offer some advice: Buy the Polydor edition used because the sound quality on that edition is much, much better. The Rocket remaster has remixed the tracks (to a certain extent) so the sound is slightly different. I prefer the original Polydor CD issue. That's the version to track down. However, in contrast, if you are a true Elton fan or a fan who doesn't feel like tracking down the original Polydor issue, buy this edition for 'Amoreena,' which was added here as a bonus track and does not appear on that issue. 'Amoreena' is offered here in a stellar version, however, one must wonder how it would sound un-remixed...
I strongly recommend '11-17-70.' Go for the Polydor edition (or both -- if you are a die-hard fan), sit down, relax, and enjoy the show!
Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended.