By Robyn Collins
Elton John has been named the first Worldwide Record Store Day Legend, as the annual event prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary on April 22.
To honor the milestone, the British rocker has decided to reissue his favorite concert recording, 17-11-70, on vinyl on Record Store Day, reports Rolling Stone.
In an interview, John discussed the magic of vinyl, his love for Tower records, and how he used to go into record stores with Bernie Taupin, his longtime collaborator.
“I love record stores, I can go to the record store in Vegas and spend three hours in there. Just the smell of it, the looking at it, the wonder of it, the memories.”
In 1990, John auctioned off his entire record collection to raise money for the Elton John Aids Foundation. It sold for $250,000. In the past two years, he says, he’s been collecting again, and now has around 7,000 pieces.
His most recent purchase was a copy of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo that “cost a fortune.” John shared that he cried when Tower Records closed, but he’s encouraged by the surge of vinyl sales and the support of independent record stores.
“I love vinyl so much,” John said. “The tactile nature, the ritual of it, looking at the sleeve… especially with the old albums and the liner notes – who played on them, the process of putting it on, the needle going on and the sound coming out. And it does sound better, I know it does. I’ve been around long enough to know, I’ve been in so many studios … It does sound better. So it’s just the wonder of having vinyl.”
17-11-70 was originally released in 1971 after the live radio broadcast of the performance was bootlegged so much that the record company decided to release it.
“The album 17-11-70 was not meant to be a live one at all; we did one of the first-ever stereo radio broadcasts live at A&R Recording Studios in New York City in 1970 on the 17th of November,” John said. “It was Phil Ramone’s studio, one of the greatest producers of all time, and we just went in the booth and played it as a three-piece: Nigel Olsson on drums and vocals, Dee Murray on bass and vocals, and myself.”
“There was a studio audience of about 100 sitting outside the booth, hearing it coming through the loud speakers, and we just played,” John continued. “I’m astonished by how good we were, listening to this record a lot of it was improvised, and you can do that when you’re a three-piece band because I’m really the lead instrument, and Dee and Nigel were so brilliant at following what I did. There’s a 16-minute track on it that was completely improvised, more or less, and I’m very proud of it: I think it’s one of the greatest live albums ever made. It wasn’t initially coming out as a live album, but there were so many bootlegs in those days that the record company put it out. I’m glad they did because it really is something I’m very, very proud of.”
17.11.70+ will be released as a 2-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, with all the recordings remastered by Bob Ludwig.
17.11.70+ Track List
A1 “Take Me To The Pilot”
A2 “Honky Tonk Women”
A3 “Sixty Years On”
A4 “Can’t Put You On”
B1 “Bad Side Of The Moon”
B2 “Burn Down The Mission” (Incl. “My Baby Left Me” / “Get Back”)
C1 “Indian Sunset” *
C2 “Amoreena” (Newly remixed bonus track)
C3 “Your Song” *
D1 “Country Comfort” *
D2 “I Need You To Turn To” *
D3 “Border Song” *
D4 “My Father’s Gun” *
* Previously unreleased bonus track