Elton John’s fourth album ‘Madman Across The Water’ is something of a fan favourite. The 1971 release didn’t score Elton any UK hits at the time, and beyond ‘Tiny Dancer’, most of its songs are largely unknown outside of his fan base, and yet the album has endured the decades. If anything, it’s found itself sounding better with each passing year.
After living through something that’s felt like a perpetual groundhog day, it’s felt like a long year, to say the very least. In other ways, it really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since the scramble for David Bowie related items during one of the Record Store Day events of 2020.
This year, the RSD shenannigans are held across two days – 12th June and 17th July – with a varied selection of items available during each event. As always, we can’t tell you where your desired goodies will be stocked or how many copies will be floating around, or give you a definite price (anything quoted below is an educated guess), but we can offer an opinion on what we feel are the year’s coolest collection fillers.
These are our top picks for the June event (RSD Drop 1).
As the 60s drew to a close and musical fashions began to lean towards heavier sounds, The Gods renamed themselves Head Machine and headed back into the studio. The resulting album – the dubiously named ‘Orgasm’ – featured a couple of songs that sounded like 60s psych jams in bigger boots; others forged their way into the new hard rock sounds, following the example set by Deep Purple. Although it wasn’t necessary the most coherent record, it was an enjoyable one. It failed to be a commercial success and the band split almost immediately. A few months on, the core of Head Machine – Ken Hensley (gtr/keys) and Lee Kerslake (dtums) – resurfaced as the core of a new rock band Toe Fat with previous mod hit maker Cliff Bennett, whose Rebel Rousers had seen him providing vocals for a band that included Chas Hodges and legendary session pianist Nicky Hopkins.
Toe Fat released two albums between 1970 and 1972, both of which spent approximately two decades out of print between the early 70s and mid 90s. Both albums crept out on CD for the first time in 1994 thanks to the German label Repertoire Records, but the official nature of these reissues remains open to question and those CDs quickly became impossible to find, making Toe Fat a 70s curio that – much like Head Machine – went largely unheard by all but the most ardent Uriah Heep collectors. A double disc reissue from BGO Records briefly made the Toe Fat recordings available in the States, but for UK audiences, their work remained elusive.
Between a world of cancelled and postponed gigs and time spent in lockdown, 2020 has been a troubled year, but nevertheless, time marches on. Unbelievably, we’ve reached December and our traditional countdown to Christmas has begun.
In 2008, Universal Music reissued both of Elton John’s 1970 albums (‘Elton John’ and ‘Tumbleweed Connection’) as part of their ongoing Deluxe Edition series. These classic albums joined an excellent 2CD edition of ‘Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy’ and a long-out of print double disc Super Audio CD of the much loved ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, giving hope for future reissues.
A decade later, the only further reissue to hit the shelves was a multi-disc box set version of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, reprising the earlier material and expanding it with two some excellent live material, some pointless – and unwelcome – modern day covers by other artists and a DVD.
Elton has only ever looked forward and embraced new projects, which has left other potentially worthy deluxe sets – including ‘The Fox’ – unlikely to appear.