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Elton John - Rock of the Westies RIAA Certified Platinum! Click here to see this CD at Amazon.com!

By Bill Holdship

Although it was viewed as one of Elton John's more lightweight efforts upon its 1975 release--possibly because it followed only half a year after the acclaimed Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (and partially because many thought the album was released to fulfill a contractual obligation)--Rock of the Westies appears in retrospect to be his last great rock album. It certainly does rock consistently harder than any other John album, with guitarist Davey Johnstone even getting cowriting credits (with John and Bernie Taupin) on the opening "Medley: Yell Help/Wednesday" and "Grow Some Funk of Your Own." Lyricist Taupin seems to be going off the deep end here at times with titles like "Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)" and "Billy Bone & the White Bird," but "Island Girl" was another huge hit for the pair. And the CD version adds the wonderful pop gem "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart," which turned KiKi Dee into an eternal Trivial Pursuit answer.

Tracks
1. Medley: Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly7. Hard Luck Story
2. Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)8. Feed Me
3. Island Girl9. Billy Bones and the White Bird
4. Grow Some Funk of Your Own10. Planes [*]
5. I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)11. Sugar on the Floor [*]
6. Street Kids

 

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"This album is a radical departure from any of Elton's previous offerings. Much more of a "rock" album (as its title suggests) with some great guitar riffs and a powerful rhythm section. A major influencing factor in this change of tack is the almost total revamp of Elton's backing band. Out go long serving stalwarts Dee Murray (bass) and Nigel Olsson (drums) to be replaced by Kenny Passarelli and Roger Pope. The band grows in number with an additional guitarist, Caleb Quaye and keyboard player James Newton-Howard being added to the lineup. An American reviewer at the time described Elton's vocals as "sounding like he'd swallowed a goldfish". A tad unfair perhaps, although Elton certainly gives his vocal chords some punishment on Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future) resulting in a gravelly (almost grating) sound; very different from the melodic balladeer to which we had become accustomed. "Island Girl" was a minor hit as a single followed by "Grow Some Funk of your Own" (a total flop in the American singles chart). Looking back on this 25 years later - a very interesting album - the first 5 tracks having matured very well over the years and highly recommended if you want to clear the cobwebs out of your sub-woofers! Many see this album as signalling the end of Elton's "golden era" and mourn the demise of the band who had contributed to so many classic albums during the preceding years."

--Patrick Christiansen

"I do remember Elton's decrease in popularity shortly after this album was released... it was assumed at the time, since "Westies" followed his admission to being gay, that this somehow attributed to his fall from Rock and Roll grace. A lot of my male friends were shattered to hear he had come out of the closet, and I don't think they ever bought another Elton John album. It didn't bother me -- he always remained The Captain."

--Ziggy

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MUSICAL NOTES

Artist: Elton John

Released: October 29, 1975

Availability: CD, Vinyl

Awards:  Platinum


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