Elton John – Live In Australia With The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (1987)

FrontCover1Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, released in 1987, is the twenty-sixth official album release for Elton John. It is a live album recorded at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 14 December 1986 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

The concert, recorded on 14 December 1986, was the last of a series of concerts done throughout the last two months of 1986. The concerts consisted of two sets: the first was limited to John and his 14-piece band, including backing vocalists and the Onward International horn section, and his flamboyant stage dress, featuring Mohawk and Tina Turner wigs and some outlandish eye wear; the second featured John, the band and the 88-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with him dressed as Mozart.

John’s band was essentially the lineup used on Leather Jackets, which he was touring behind at the time, including Jody Linscott and special guest Ray Cooper, both of whom played percussion.

James Newton Howard, who was at the time an up-and-coming film composer in Hollywood, joined John to conduct and write larger, augmented charts of not only his own previous work on “Tonight,” but also Paul Buckmaster’s original arrangements, since the music was to be played by 88 musicians, instead of the smaller studio orchestra for which the compositions were originally designed. He also wrote brand new full orchestra parts for songs such as “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, which previously only had horn arrangements.

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The album features most of the songs recorded in the second half of the show, excluding “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Carla/Etude”, “Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)” and “Slow Rivers”, which was sung by John alone (John dueted “Slow Rivers” with Cliff Richard on Leather Jackets).

John’s live sound engineer, Clive Franks, handled the recording of the band (assisted by Keith Walker and Dennis Fox), while album producer Gus Dudgeon supervised recording of the orchestra by Leon Minervini and Nic Jeremy. Dudgeon took the tapes back to Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands for mixing with engineer Graham Dickson, who had also worked on Leather Jackets.

This concert was the last to feature Elton’s legendary stage costumes, which he had featured in his shows since the early 1970s. It was also his last show before undergoing throat surgery in January 1987. Despite being completely successful, the surgery prevented Elton from singing at all for several months and from touring for 18 months. The surgery also permanently reduced his range from tenor to baritone. (by wikipedia)

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The late ’80s were wrought with equal measures of tremendous professional popularity and personal crisis for Elton John. As he would reveal later, this inspired double-LP live collection released in 1987 captures the artist at one of the best and worst times of his life. In fact, John cites the emotionally charged “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” as triggering what would become a “severe mental breakdown,” the results of nearly a decade of substance-fueled decadence. On top of it all and perhaps most tellingly is John’s tattered voice. So dire was the situation that literally within weeks of the concert he would undergo a surgical procedure that could have easily ended his career had it failed.

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Perhaps the ultimate irony is that at this precise moment John was launching his re-association with MCA Records via this live career retrospective, which was simultaneously broadcast throughout the entire globe. Keeping all of that in mind, Elton John once again proved himself as a consummate showman, performing at the peak of his abilities. John’s comparatively small combo is augmented on these tracks by the 88-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the direction of onetime bandmate James Newton Howard. There are a few surprisingly strong readings of early sides such as “60 Years On,” “I Need You to Turn To,” “The Greatest Discovery,” and an edgy and soulful version of “The King Must Die.” Other unexpected detours into John’s catalog include the intimate desperation of “Tonight” from Blue Moves (1976) and “Have Mercy on the Criminal” from Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973). There are also the hits and enthusiast favorites “Tiny Dancer,” “Your Song,” “Candle in the Wind” (which was issued as a single and topped pop music charts worldwide), the previously mentioned “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” The companion home video includes a few additional performances, such as the thoroughly inspiring “One Horse Town.” While not entirely essential, Live in Australia is at its core an adeptly executed concert package. (by Lindsay Planer)

Dot expect anything from the booklet … one of the simplest booklets I ever saw from a rock star like Elton John.

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Personnel:
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Elton John (piano, vocals)
Jody Linscott (percussion)
Davey Johnstone – guitars
David Paton – bass guitar
Charlie Morgan – drums
Fred Mandel – keyboards, synthesizers
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background vocals:
Alan Carvell – Gordon Neville – Shirley Lewis
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Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted James Newton Howard

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Tracklist:
01. Sixty Years On 5.41
02. I Need You To Turn To 3.14
03. The Greatest Discovery 4.09
04. Tonight 5.58
05. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word 3.58
06. The King Must Die 5.21
07. Take Me To The Pilot 4.22
08. Tiny Dancer 7.46
09. Have Mercy On The Criminal 5.50
10. Madman Across The Water 6.38
11. Candle In The Wind 4.10
12. Burn Down The Mission 5.49
13. Your Song 4.04
14. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me 6.06

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

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Various Artists – The Prince´s Trust 10th Anniversary Birthday Party (1987)

FrontCover1The Prince’s Trust celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 1986 with a concert at Wembley Arena attended by the then Prince and Princess of Wales. It is a more of a curiosity concert now in light of the fact that most of the stars and groups on show have either split up, moved on, or have shuffled off this planet (Stuart Adamson committed suicide years later) Inevitably, the performances are some of the big names at the time, for example, Suzanne Vega and Level 42 were top ten in England and Mark Knopfler was riding high post-BROTHERS IN ARMS with Dire Straits. Tina Turner and Eric Clapton duetted on “Better Be Good To Me”, Rod Stewart performed his classic “Sailing” …. and the concert culminates in Paul McCartney singing “Long Tall Sally” and “Get Back”with Tina Turner.

Professionally done with some good music to boot, THE PRINCES TRUST BIRTHDAY PARTY is more of interest now to fans of the decade.(by Doom Templer)

Nothing special in term of performances,it’s only a curious relic piece on collector’s shelve like mine to satisfy our addiction of music performed by our darling masterclas. (by Guitar Kiko)

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Personnel:
Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Francis Rossi, George Chandler, Jimmy Chambers, Jimmy Helms, John Illsley, Mark King, Paul Young, Ray Cooper, Rick Parfitt, Samantha Brown*, Sting, Trevor Morais, Vicki Brown and much more

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Tracklist:
01. Dire Straits: Money For Nothing (Knopfler) 5.20
02. Midge Ure: Call Of The Wild (King/Mitchell/Ure) 4.21
03. Suzanne Vega: Marlene On The Wall (Vega) 3.16
04. Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight (Collins) 4.58
05. Big Country: Fields Of Fire (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.26
06. Howard Jones: No One Is To Blame (Jones) 4.12
07. Level 42: Something About You (Gould/King/Lindup/Gould/Badarou) 5.07
08. Elton John: I’m Still Standing (John/Taupin) 3.47
09. Joan Armatrading: Reach Out (Armatrading) 4.40
10. Tina Turner: Better Be Good To Me (Chinn/Chapman/Knight) 5.02
11. Rod Stewart: Sailing (Sutherland) 5.25
12. Paul McCartney: Get Back (Lennon/McCartney) 3.33
13. Paul McCartney: Long Tall Sally (Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell) 2.36

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