Elton John With Ray Cooper – Live From Moscow 1979 (2020)

Posted by Green on March 25, 2020
in pop, rock


Live from Moscow 1979 is the first official release of a heavily bootlegged show Elton John performed in Moscow on May 29, 1979. It was the last show of his groundbreaking tour of the U.S.S.R., where he was the first rock star to play behind the Iron Curtain (he was preceded by Cliff Richard, who can’t quite be called a rocker, especially in 1979), and the occasion was commemorated by a broadcast on the BBC. The tour was historically important, but John was at a bit of a personal and creative crossroads in 1979, separated from his songwriting collaborator and most of his regular backing musicians. That makes Live from Moscow 1979 a bit of a quiet reprieve, containing none of the ersatz pizzazz of A Single Man or the desperate disco of Victim of Love, thanks to how the shows consisted of nothing more than John himself, occasionally supported by longtime percussionist Ray Cooper. The intimacy is appealing but flying solo gives John the freedom to stretch out, which he does often: three of the sixteen tracks are well over ten minutes, with many others bunched around the seven-minute mark. Each of these performances are extended with lots of piano runs, a display of prowess that’s alternately dazzling and languid. As the album rolls on, the performances feel a bit formless, an effect that makes the occasional tight number — such as the quick blast through “Better Off Dead” — hit harder, but also suggests that this tour was a way for John to explore his songbook, trying to reconnect with pieces that would resonate with him while he was wandering through the wilderness. That may not make for a dynamic concert album, but it does make for an interesting one.

~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music


01. Daniel [0:03:57.30]
02. Skyline Pigeon [0:04:02.41]
03. Take Me to the Pilot [0:06:50.50]
04. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) [0:07:33.10]
05. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me [0:05:36.07]
06. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [0:03:04.04]
07. Candle in the Wind [0:03:34.04]
08. I Heard It Through the Grapevine [0:11:50.12]


01. Funeral For A Friend (Live) [0:03:04.54]
02. Tonight (Live) [0:07:41.36]
03. Better Off Dead (Live) [0:02:58.66]
04. Bennie And The Jets (Live) [0:12:31.49]
05. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (Live) [0:03:33.34]
06. Crazy Water (Live) [0:07:58.16]
07. Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) – Pinball Wizard (Live) [0:10:11.32]
08. Crocodile Rock – Get Back – Back In The U.S.S.R. (Live) [0:03:32.52]

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