Thursday, February 27, 2014

Uni Records: Border Song

In April 1970, the “Elton John” album was released in the US and it subsequently peaked on the Billboard album charts at #4. Not bad for an artist who was unknown in the US until this release. John’s first album from 1969, “Empty Sky,” would not reach North American audiences until 1975.

While Elton John was signed to Dick James Music (DJM Records) in the UK, the label attempted to make a dent in the US in 1968. DJM even released Elton John’s first US single: “Lady Samantha”; however, it failed to chart.

Seeing some potential in John, MCA picked up his North American option and initially released two singles on Congress before moving him over to the higher profile Uni Records. Congress originally was a subsidiary label of Kapp and both labels had come under Uni’s control in 1967.

In addition to another unsuccessful release of “Lady Samantha” in March 1970, the second Congress single, “Border Song,” was issued the following month and it too received a chilly reception. Re-released in July 1970, “Border Song” peaked at #34 in Canada; however, this gospel tinged ballad only made it to #92 in the US.

Holy Moses! Even at #92, it did better than it did in Elton John’s native land, as it failed to chart in the UK. The last verse, which was written by Elton John and not by lyricist Bernie Taupin, indicates that the song is about bigotry.

I love the production on these early Elton John albums – as they had a rich and full sound. Paul Buckmaster’s arrangements have always been appealing. Boy, I haven’t listened to this LP in a long time – I need to get it out more.

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