Monday, January 7, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Crocodile Rock

Our second in our series of Farfisa organ recordings comes from the pen of Elton John and Bernie Taupin – 1972’s “Crocodile Rock.” The song was not only the first number one record for Elton John in the US and Canada, it was the first single released on the newly created MCA Records label. The song placed in the Top Five in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Norway as well.

In 1973, “Crocodile Rock” also was certified as a gold single for sales in excess of a million copies. When the Recording Industry Association of America introduced the platinum designation for single sales in excess of two million copies in the late 1970s, “Crocodile Rock” eventually achieved this status in 1995.

Bringing with it inspiration from ‘50s rock ‘n roll and pop numbers, the song was wildly popular. John’s vocal treatment in part reminds me of the tenor in The Diamonds’ version of “Little Darlin” and the girl character’s vocals on Pat Boone’s “Speedy Gonzales.” Davey Johnstone utilized a popular ‘50s’ guitar technique of muting the strings with the heel of one’s palm while playing arpeggios.

While Elton’s piano is the primary keyboard instrument, you can hear him using the Farfisa organ in a partial staccato fashion. In parts, the Farfisa lends an almost carnival atmosphere that is punctuated by Johnstone’s guitar work. In stereo, John’s double tracked vocals beginning with the first chorus and which comes to fruition during the last verse really add the icing on the cake on this tune from his “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” album.

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