November 17, 1970: Elton John Cuts 11-17-70 Live Album

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11-17-70 USIt’s the outlier among other outliers (such as the Friends soundtrack) in the early Elton John catalog, yet an album any true fan of Sir Elton should hear and likely very much enjoy. In its day it announced in no uncertain terms that a star writer, singer and performer had arrived.

Then again, it was never intended to become an album in the first place. In August of 1970, Elton and his backing band of drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray had triumphed in a six-night sold-out stand at The Troubadour in Los Angeles and stoked a mighty buzz for this new artist on the West Coast.

Related: Elton John plays first U.S. concert

The show at Manhattan’s A&R Recording studio on this day was a live radio broadcast for an in-studio audience of some 100-150 people that aired on WABC-FM (long since changed to WPLJ) with the intention of boosting Elton’s profile in the New York metro area.

The performance was a barn-burner – Elton reportedly cut his hand while playing and by its end his blood was all over his piano keys. When bootleggers started issuing the show, Uni Records decided to do an official release in April of 1971… but it only featured six of the concert’s 13 classic rock tracks: “Take Me to the Pilot,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Sixty Years On,” “Can I Put You On,” “Bad Side of the Moon” and an 18:20 medley of “Burn Down the Mission” with bits of the Elvis Presley classic “My Baby Left Me” and Lennon & McCartney’s “Get Back.” With fuller boots on the market and three other official Elton John albums already on the charts (Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection and the Friends LP), 11-17-70 got a bit lost in the crowd even if it did reach #11 on the Top 200.

When the album was reissued on CD in 1996, the order was shuffled and the song “Amoreena” was added. A 2-LP limited edition Record Store Day 2017 release finally presented the complete performance. The U.K. edition is available here.

11-17-70 Setlist

Take Me to the Pilot
Honky Tonk Women
Sixty Years On
Can I put you on
Bad Side of the Moon
Burn Down the Mission
Indian Sunset
Amoreena
Your Song
Country Comfort
I Need You To Turn To
Border Song
My Father’s Gun

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  1. Chris
    #1 Chris 27 June, 2017, 18:59

    I’ve always told people who doubted that Elton could rock with the best of them that they needed to listen to this album!

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