DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER - ELTON JOHN
TRACK LISTING: Daniel, Teacher I Need You, Elderberry Wine, Blues For Baby and Me, Midnight Creeper, Have Mercy On the Criminal, I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol, Texan Love Song, Crocodile Rock, High Flying Bird
BONUS TRACKS: Screw You (Young Man's Blues), Jack Rabbit, Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again), Skyline Pigeon (piano version)
IMPRESSIONS: Here's one from the glory years. This was the time when Elton John could do no wrong. Everything he released went to number one (including, of course, this). Here we have Elton experimenting a little with his sound by writing songs from different musical "genres": the countrified strumming of "Texan Love Song", the orchestral "Have Mercy On the Criminal", the fabulous fifties of "Crocodile Rock" or the brass-booming trudge of "I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol" to mention a few. For all his experimentation, the album remains uneven with some of my favourite Elton songs ("High Flying Bird", "I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol", "Have Mercy On the Criminal") cheek by jowl with forgettable offerings ("Texan Love Song", "Midnight Creeper", "Teacher I Need You"). This being said, the good stuff is certainly good enough to make this album a must have. Then, of course, nowadays the cd is enhanced with great bonus tracks including the definitive version of "Skyline Pigeon" (much better than the clanky version which first appeared on the "EMPTY SKY" album). There are also included the two boffo blockbuster hits "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock" which, despite suffering from decades of overplaying, still hold up as great songs.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Daniel, Have Mercy On the Criminal, I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol, Crocodile Rock, High Flying Bird, Screw You (Young Man's Blues), Jack Rabbit, Skyline Pigeon (piano version)
FACT SHEET: DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER is Elton John's sixth album. It was his second straight number one album and featured his first US number one single "Crocodile Rock" as well as "Daniel" which reached number two. The album was recorded at Strawberry Studios at Château d'Hérouville, France and was produced by Gus Dudgeon. Elton John biographer Philip Norman reveals the album was named after an encounter at an L.A. party in which Groucho Marx pointed his fingers at Elton playfully miming a six-gun with Elton reportedly quipping "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player!". The album cover does feature a movie poster of the Marx Brothers film "GO WEST". "I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol" was reportedly written about T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan. According to Elton John biographer Elizabeth Rosenthal, "Crocodile Rock" is a deliberate tribute to fifties music with Elton's vocal mimicking Bobby Vee, "Midnight Creeper" is in the style of the Rolling Stones and "High Flying Bird" is in the style of Van Morrison. "DON'T SHOOT ME" is one of only two albums to feature only the core band of Davey Johnstone (guitar), Dee Murray (bass) and Nigel Olsson (drums) without percussionist Ray Cooper; the other being 1984's "BREAKING HEARTS" discussed elsewhere on this blog. The original version of "Skyline Pigeon" appears on Elton's first album "EMPTY SKY"; the version here is a re-recording which originally appeared as the B-side to "Daniel". The other three bonus tracks appeared before this on the Elton John 1990 box set "TO BE CONTINUED...".