Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rock and Roll Madonna

A while back, I mentioned that I, once again, had a complete collection of the Beatles' music.

I used to have all the Beatles' albums, back when music came on 12'' vinyl. But, a divorce can wreak havoc on a music collection.

But, it was exciting when I got a complete collection again. And then added it to my iPod.

To be honest, though, the Beatles' collection was not my first complete collection of an artist's music.

You see, although I did have some old Beatles recordings ... including an original mono pressing of Meet the Beatles, I didn't get all their recordings when they were released. I did get later pressings, though. And had a complete library. Or what was complete at the time. (Remember, this came before Live at the BBC, the Anthology series, and all the other stuff that came after.

So, because I was having to play catch-up on Beatles music -- my Big Sister (who's 5'4'') had a complete collection before I did, because she's my big sister -- I actually had a collection of another artist's music prior to the Beatles.

I used to have Elton John's collection. Or what was his collection, at the time.

And it was special. For a reason you might not expect.

Back in 1975, I had Elton John's Greatest Hits. Heck, everyone had Elton John's Greatest Hits. It's one of Rolling Stone magazine's greatest albums of all time (number 135).

Then, later in '75, I received my second Elton John album. As a gift.

In high school, one of my projects was assisting a teacher at the junior high (do they even have "junior high" any more?). It was my first foray into instruction. And it was fun.

When my time at the junior high was done, the class gave me Caribou, at the time, Elton's most recent studio release. (This was shortly before Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy came out.)

That record meant a lot to me, because those students meant a lot to me.

I listened to it over and over. Not so much for the music, but for the memories of working with that class of students.

And, I found that I liked the music. Sure, I was already familiar with Elton's hits. Those on his Greatest Hits album, along with others that weren't on the LP, such as Levon, Tiny Dancer, Friends, and his cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

But I also liked much of Caribou. Okay, Solar Prestige A Gammon isn't exactly an all-time rock-n-roll classic. But still, not a bad album. Not his best. But not bad. Of course, I may be prejudiced by the fact that the junior high class gave it to me.

Anyhow, I had two Elton John albums I liked, and in May, I got Captain Fantastic the day it came out. A guy named Earl drove the record truck, and delivered copies to the little old lady that ran the record shop in town, and a friend picked up my copy of the album. My buddy got the eight-track, so I was the first in town to have the album, though the second in town to get the release ... if you follow me.

I listened to Captain Fantastic, and loved the album. Still do.

So, I began buying up other Elton John albums. And, in short order, I had them all. They were easy to get. Elton was the hottest musical act in the U.S. at the time, and everyone carried all his albums.

Empty Sky had been released in the U.S. in early '75, so I picked it up. Thought it sounded a little out of place. Found out that it was a 1969 recording that hadn't been previously released in this country until Elton became a hot property.

Still, I got all his albums as I was able. Even 11-17-70, which, until I bought it, didn't realize was a live album.

Of course, I got Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Honky Château, Tumbleweed Collection, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, Madman Across The Water, the Friends soundtrack, and Elton John.

To be honest, after Rock of the Westies, I was a little disappointed. Blue Moves, even more so. And, after A Single Man and Victim of Love, I quite buying his albums.

But, for a time there, I had all his music. Even some bootlegs that included his early stuff, like I've Been Loving You, Lady Samantha, Just Like Strange Rain, Young Man's Blues, and Rock and Roll Madonna.

I've obtained most of his early stuff again. Everything from Empty Sky up to Rock of the Westies, with Rare Masters thrown in, in fact. And that means the music by Elton John that set the world on fire back in the 1970s.

I got the songs from iTunes, and they are on my iPod. And I've enjoyed listening to classic Elton John again.

They don't make music like that, any more. Not even Elton does. And that's a shame.

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