Notwithstanding, “Take me to the Pilot” is a great cut that received some airplay but failed to chart in the Hot 100.
The production is a little dated with the instrumentation segregated to certain sides of the mix – sometimes the piano is the left channel and other times it’s in the right channel. It appears to be suffering a little production schizophrenia. The saving grace of this cut is Paul Buckmaster’s string arrangement. Come to think of it, as I listen to the cut - the mix started to make sense to me.
Personally, I like the live version of this song on the "11-17-70" album a whole lot better than the original, as it displays Elton's concert energy. This version was recorded in New York’s A&R Studios and broadcast on WABC-FM. It was never intended for release, but bootlegs of the broadcast forced UNI Records to counter with a legitimate copy of the recording. I'm glad they did. The original LP was only 2/3 of the concert as a single LP could only fit about 40 minutes of music and the entire show was an hour long. Today, the entire show in its original order is available on CD.
While this version is a little thin and missing Paul Buckmaster’s strings, it smokes. While “Take me to the Pilot” opens the album, it was actually the eighth song performed that night – so Elton was fully warmed up to say the least. A heck of a lot of sound comes from the three musicians: Elton, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums.