I found a minty copy of Elton John‘s debut album locally recently.
No! Not that one! His 1969 DJM (Dick James Music) release Empty Sky, distributed by Pye records!
I’m constantly amazed at the diversity of records and record labels I find here in Spokane. We are a military town, which I’m assuming accounts for many of the “import” albums I find here in the wild.
Even so, I’ve never even found the mid-70s re-release of this album in my years of digging… I never expected to find the original in translucent vinyl.
It is a John/Taupin collaboration and hints at much of the style and substance that would come from that collaboration over the next decade. Players include Caleb Quayle and Roger Pope who would revolve in the Elton John orbit for years to come, and Troggs bassist Tony Murray. It even contains what may be the first collaboration of John’s most famous drummer, Specer Davis Group alumni Nigel Olsson, on the first song, side 2.
A few of the songs would inhabit B-sides of later singles and be rehashed in early live appearances, but my favorite song is the second song on side two entitled Sails.
Hindsight album reviews claimed Empty Sky held no hidden gems… but did portend the future of the Superstar recording artist. I suppose that is correct in the sense that none of these songs included on this album are played in perpetuity on classic rock radio stations. As I spin this record, this is the first time I’ve ever heard any of these songs! But I guess, for me anyway, that would be the case with almost every Elton John album produced since 1976.
So, if you’re an Elton John fan, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Empty Sky, whether the original British pressing or the reissue… it paints a really good picture of what this artist was like at 22… before fame and fortune. An Original O-Reginald!