The album, which documents Elton’s historic tour of the U.S.S.R., is getting an official wide release on vinyl, CD and digital formats on January 24. The concert was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on May 28th 1979, and has been remastered from the original tapes.
Elton was the first Western pop star to tour behind the Iron Curtain, and he did so without a full band: He performed only with a piano and percussionist Ray Cooper backing him up. The live album is from the final date of the tour, in Moscow’s Rossiya Hall.
The whole tour was so well-received that Russian authorities subsequently allowed Elton’s album A Single Man to be officially released on its state-owned record label. It was the first Western pop album ever to get an official — as opposed to a bootleg — release there.
Elton said of the experience at the time, “It was one of the most memorable and happy tours I have been on. The last show was probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever given in my life. Working with Ray, with just the two of us on stage, was both exhilarating and challenging.”
The set list featured all of Elton’s hits up until that point — from “Your Song” and “Daniel” to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Bennie & the Jets” — as well as album cuts like “Where to Now St. Peter,” “Better Off Dead,” and “I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford).” There were also covers, including, naturally, The Beatles‘ “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
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