Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forgotten Music Thursday: The Elton John Band Featuring John Lennon At Madison Square Garden, November 28, 1974

Even though I'm a huge fan of The Beatles I didn't post a tribute for John Lennon’s seventieth birthday because I wanted to do something a little different. That is why Dr. Winston O’ Boogie is this month’s featured artist on Forgotten Music Thursday.

Much has been made of November 28, 1974, the night John Lennon reconciled with Yoko Ono backstage at an Elton John concert after his infamous 15 month "lost weekend." There he began his legendary, six-year journey to find peace as a husband, a father, and a reasonable facsimile of a normal home life. Musically, the evening is also remembered as Lennon's last live performance. The legendary rocker appeared on stage near the end of John's concert and the two great friends sang three songs together. While it has been well documented that the holiday gig was a significant event that changed Lennon's life forever the music he made that day has often been overlooked.

If you were lucky enough to be at Madison Square Garden you were in for a treat. After the piano player's introduction of the former Beatle they opened their short set with Lennon’s "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," a hit that appeared on Walls and Bridges, Lennon's last album of original songs before his retirement. Next came "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" a Beatles' song that John had recently released as a single. He gushed that it was one of the greatest songs ever written. Finally, the duo closed things out with Lennon announcing they were going to play a classic song by "an old estranged fiancĂ© of mine called Paul." The crowd roared as they launched into a high energy arrangement of "I Saw Her Standing There."

The last song was previously released in February 1975 as the B-side of John's newest single, "Philadelphia Freedom" but it took until 1981 for an English label, DJM Records to release a seven inch, 33 1/3 RPM, EP that contained the entire brief affair. The project, overseen by John's producer, Gus Dudgeon, arrived in America only as a limited edition import.

In 1995 Elton John's catalog was remastered and upgraded and his live album, Here and There was re-released and expanded from a single LP into a double CD that now clocks in at two hours and twenty minutes. The newest edition includes all three duets near the end of disc two.

If you've never heard these versions you can listen to all three of them below.

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

I Saw Her Standing There

To view both the front and back of the record sleeve shown here in more detail just click on their images.

3 comments:

  1. Haven't listened to this import in years. Thanks for reminding me! This whole thing happened on a bet, as the legend goes. While working on "Whatever Gets You Through The Night," Elton John was so certain this song would top the charts that he leveraged a concert appearance out of the ex-Beatle if it didn't. Well, it did -- and this was the result, a last chance to hear Lennon live. There is, alas, precious little of his on-stage work as a solo artist, which makes even the ragged "I Saw Her Standing There" a very real treasure.

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  2. I'll have to track this down. Elton John was in his prime back then.

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  3. The liner notes to the original "Here and There" vinyl release from 1976 don't even mention that Lennon appeared at the NYC show. It wasn't as newsworthy in that time as it seems to us now, but you'd think it would have been worth a mention, at least.

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