Listen to 45 years of Elton's greatest songs

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Sir Elton John

Celebrate 45 years of hits with these 10 great (but rarely heard) songs by the legendary star

1. Your Song (1969)

The very first demo recording of the song that would become Elton’s Top 10 hit, with some uncharacteristically soft and sweet, almost shy, singing from Sir Elton.


2. I Can’t Go On Living Without You (1969)

Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote this pop stomper for the 1969 Song for Europe contest – the preliminary round to see which song represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Lulu sang all six songs but Sir Elton’s effort came sixth out of six, with just 5000 votes, and was never heard again. Which, listening to it now, seems harsh. That said, the chosen song, Boom Bang a Bang, was joint winner of the contest proper, which may have been revealing of what was really required.


3. Knees Up Mother Brown and many more (1973)

At Christmas 1973. Elton recorded a session for the John Peel Show on BBC Radio 1, featuring him playing four medleys of pub-piano favourites, including a Christmas medley, a Bob Dylan medley – and a Knees Up Mother Brown music-hall medley.


4. Scarecrow (1966)

The first song written by Elton with lyricist Bernie Taupin, recorded in 1966, a full five years before Your Song became his debut hit. 


5. Bridge Over Troubled Water

The pre-fame Elton worked as a session piano player. Among his jobs were playing and singing covers of late 60s hits for cheap compilations (in those days, pre-Now that’s What I Call Music, it was impossible to get compilation albums of original tracks). This cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s instant classic is a cracking version. 


6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Elton sings Stevie Wonder for another covers album – but, like all the great impressionists, he sounds a lot more like himself than Stevie. Another great cover that Elton took to including in his own set later in his career.


7. Border Song, Elton’s first hit single (1970)

This is Elton’s earliest surviving performance on video, from Dutch TV in March 1970. Border Song became his first-ever hit, anywhere in the world, just breaking into the US Top 100 – before Your Song made the breakthrough into the World’s top 10s at the start of 1971.


8. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976)

Demo version of Sir Elt’s first British No 1, from 1976. He made the record as a duet with Kiki Dee – on this version, he sings both parts himself.


9. Mr Frantic (1966)

Written by Elton and recorded with his band Bluesology, when he was still known as Reg Dwight. Accompanied by pictures of the youthful Reg.


10. Are you Ready for Love? (1977)

A new remix of the song was a No 1 for Sir Elton in 2003, but the path to the top was long and convoluted: he had gone into the studio in 1977 with a completely new team of writers, producers and musicians, drawn from the world of Philadelphia soul, but the project proved abortive and led to just one single release. The use of the 2003 remix in a Sky Sports ad helped propel it to No 1 in the UK 26 years later and ensure its status as a genuine lost-and-found classic.


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