It’s no understatement to say it’s been quite a year for unreleased Elton John music! With the recent release of the fantastic eight CD box set “Jewel Box”, featuring sixty unreleased tracks from John’s overflowing archives, Elton fans were able to gorge themselves at Thanksgiving with some fun new/old music as well as turkey.
BUT the “Jewel Box” set isn’t the only new/old music Elton John has bestowed on fans. Another superb though rather limited and low-key release came out around the same time – a ten-inch 45 pairing a truly sublime unreleased jazz take of “Come Down in Time” from the “Tumbleweed Connection” album backed with a rather Rolling Stones sounding demo of “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun” from the same album.
Both of these gems were presumably found during the vault trawl that resulted in the “Jewel Box” set. Why on Earth these quite lovely versions didn’t make it to the box set is a total shame. I’ve always loved the song “Come Down in Time” especially and listening to this jazz version is a total and welcome surprise.
I love the loose jazzy take and the extended jam at the end is a real treat to listen to and I’ve been playing it over and over since I received the 45 a couple of weeks ago.
While not nearly as gentle as the finished take that made the “Tumbleweed Connection” album, this jazz version has quite a lot going for it. The song has a much different feel without the orchestration on the released take but it’s just as intriguing to listen to in this much longer jazz version.
Had this jazz version been more polished it would have been just as effective as the released version which is one of my favorite songs in John’s recorded canon. I also love hearing the studio chatter at the beginning and near the extended jam which really gives you a feel for being at the sessions for “Tumbleweed Connection” .
The new 45’s flip side, the DJM (Dick James Music) demo of “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun”, sounds like it was recorded at a Rolling Stones session and while not as funky as the released take has a charm that I may actually prefer to the well-known “Gun” (sorry, I just couldn’t resist!). I love a lot of Elton John’s demos and this demo is no exception.
Now I have to say that while I absolutely LOVE this new 10-inch 45 with it’s lovely “Tumbleweed Connection” style cover I must say that the price ($21.98) is a bit steep for just two songs but as luck would have it I got it for just over $5 from a sale at udiscovermusic.com so I’m a happy camper.
For those of you who don’t buy physical media “Come Down in Time (Jazz Version)” is available to listen to online but I believe “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun” is exclusive to this new disc. It may be the same version of the “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun” demo that was included on a deluxe 2 CD set of “Tumbleweed Connection” from a few years ago (I haven’t compared them) but if it is it’s a new mastering anyway.
If you still love vinyl as I do this new 45 is really something special and may be worth hunting down. Both songs are great and the cardboard cover that recreated the “Tumbleweed Connection” artwork is just perfect.
If you can find this 45 for a decent price I say go for it! If you’re an Elton fan you’ll love it. Even at the full price a true Elton fan would be happy to add this to their collection as this is has super versions of two great songs.
As usual you can look at photos of this groovy new 45 above.
That’s all for now so until next time be safe and well!