This is my ‘testing new headphones’ record. Here’s how the test works. So brilliantly produced, so excitingly layered and so masterfully performed is this track. If you get as far as the point where the first five and a half minutes of 1970’s pomposity which make up Funeral For A Friend, has given way to the balls out rocking five and a half minutes of Love Lies Bleeding. If by then, you’re not on your, back spinning round, playing air guitar, air drums and air castanets… You have bought shit headphones. It’s not the most scientific unit of measure I’ll grant you. But it works for me.
Things start around the dated whooshing of SFX. Wind and bells morphs into parpy synthesizers. A funeral organ wells up. Synthetic brass gives way to the gentle piano refrain. Which in turn gives way to other more dated synthesizers, this is over taken by drum fills, then twanging guitars. More Synth, more piano, harmonics on the fender strat. Piano Riffage. Castanets. Bongos. Crashing bass and drums. The synth is fighting for dominance again. Then a guitar line like a procession march. All the instruments at once now. On the same build to a unifying crescendo. At five minutes twenty six seconds it changes direction. Intro finished! Here’s the song.
‘The roses in the window box have tilted to one side, everything about this house was born to grow and die, It doesn’t seem a year ago to this very day, you said sorry honey if I don’t change the pace I can’t make another day’.
There’s a reason Elton John was one of the biggest artists of the 20th century. He has the most perfect voice for rock and roll. He’s just fucking magic. He has an amazing back catalogue. Not least because the same majestic bastard who recorded this also made nothing but shit for the entire 80’s and 90’s.
This record is so wonderful because it’s so over the top. Compared to other progressive artists of the same era it may appear a little tame. The thing Elton manages to retain which the beard and cape brigade lost is the pop sensibility. ELO and Jeff Wayne have their moments close to FFAF/LLB but they’ll always be in the shadow of this epic from my perspective. I first heard it when I was about ten. I will never not want to keep hearing it.