Monday, August 26, 2013

'To The Distant Sound Of Drums'

Whatever we may think of the drum machines in this day and age of organic (in some quarters) music, they were part and parcel of the 80's. And were seen as a must have addition to your repertoire. Elton being no exception, most of his albums from that period right through into the 90's featured the device. Both on album and for use with his songwriting. With varying results. The One (album) suffering from too much of it, whereas this song from a decade earlier being the perfect example of how it worked. The steady backdrop giving Elton's vocal and piano the platform to shine. Bernie's lyric is dire, not dire in quality, but dire in mood. He, or his character, is flat lining while still conscious. With a grandstand view of his own disintegration. As is typical with so many of Bernie's lyrics, Elton puts an uptempo almost swinging melody to it. Another of the many 'ironic comennts' they've done over the years. More about those later on.

This version is a moment. Captured during probably Elton's best tour, voice and piano both exuded class with a generous helping of attitude. Both elements here in abundance. The poignant sight of Nigel, Dee and Davey out front is heartbreaking in one sense yet a joyful showcase of the enthusiasm and delight they had for being part Elton's world and music. He wrote it, they played it. Harmonies that lift themselves high above the twin towers, higher than any trophy ever lifted at the stadium. Davey's guitar with it's washboard sound is the perfect counter balance to Elton's piano. The piano swings from funky to good old fashioned pounding, listen to Elton's left hand right at the end of the solo. That's a very heavy pound...Elton's vocal is passionate, a tremendous heartfelt delivery. When Dee's bass kicks in it on the outro it sounds menacing against the backdrop of the washboard and funk. That's some cocktail, which is eventually swept back down with the final 'oohs' from the band. If ever a song was designed for a drum machine, this was it. Or maybe the drum machine was designed to produce songs like these...

1 comment:

  1. Nice comments about the drum machine on this song. I think it's an excellent example of Elton and the 1980's coming together to the benefit of everyone involved. I distinctly recall upon hearing it the first time that, yes, indeed, Elton has gotten with the times and it sounded really current. Take away the drum machine and you still have a great song too!