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Elton John: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks

4.7 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, February 20, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Classic rock 'n' roll and '70s pop came together seamlessly on this 1973 LP, another #1. This has his mega-hit Crocodile Rock and smash ballad Daniel ; this CD adds Jack Rabbit; Skyline Pigeon (piano version), and two more bonuses!

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One of the best entries from Elton John and Bernie Taupin's remarkably successful mid-'70s run, this album still holds up well over a quarter of a century after its release. Even casual fans will recognize "Daniel," "Elderberry Wine," and "Crocodile Rock," but "Teacher I Need You," "Have Mercy on the Criminal" and "I'm Going to Be a Teenage Idol" are equally good. Elton's backing band at the time (guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray, and drummer Nigel Olsson) was easily his best, and producer Gus Dudgeon and orchestral arranger Paul Buckmaster bathed the tracks in a warm and enticing glow. The only complaint is that, due to its size, the CD reissue doesn't remotely do justice to the colorful packaging of the original album. --Dan Epstein
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 20, 1996)
  • Rmst ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
  • Label: The Rocket Record Company
  • ASIN: B000001EG2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,648 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Slocum VINE VOICE on February 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The bad news for Elton's hard rock fans in 1973 was that the guy who made "Madman Across The Water" less than two years before had left the building. In his place was a pop craftsman with a keen interest in making music for the masses.

The good news, of course, was Elton's arrival as a full-fledged pop star came with some terrific music, still very enjoyable more than a quarter century later. Actually, his pop leanings were in evidence in 1972 with the release of "Honky Chateau," but this time the gloves are off, and his aim is clearly Casey Kasem country. The result was his first two top-five singles in the U.S., the chart-topping "Crocodile Rock" and #2 hit, "Daniel." "Don't Shoot Me" reached the top of the charts, too, just as "Honky Chateau" did.

If you like "Honky Chateau," chances are good you will like "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player," which in many ways feels like a sequel. The title, for instance, sounds like something the singer in "Honky Cat" might have said if offered an extra chorus. "Crocodile Rock" deals with a faithless girlfriend named Susie, while someone with the same name and inclinations also appears in a song named after her on "Honky Chateau."

The two hits on "Don't Shoot Me," painful as it is to say, aren't as enduring as the hits on "Honky Chateau." Frankly, both "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock" suffer from radio overplay in a way "Honky Cat" and "Rocket Man" don't. That's not to say they aren't great songs, just less enduring. Elton works in some interesting keyboard tones with "Daniel" and plays to the '50s nostalgia craze (quoting Pat Boone, ye gads!) with "Croc Rock," a song I grooved to as a youngster when it first came out and dearly love today. Yet when it comes on my stereo, my focus sometimes wanders a bit.
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Format: Audio CD
Some albums are merely highwater marks for a particular artist, while not being outstanding compared against others in the field. This is not one of those. This is, quite simply, an album that every rock music CD collection should contain.

There are no missteps here. The beautiful "Daniel" (which John says was a song of tribute to returning Vietnam veterans, inspired by an article in _Newsweek_) and 50s rock tribute "Crocodile Rock" (Elton's first #1 single) are the most well-known numbers but there are richer treasures to be had here. Any man who ever had a schoolboy crush will recognize himself in "Teacher I Need You", the horn drive of "Elderberry Wine" belies its lyric about a lover who's left (the title derives from a favourite drink she used to make for them), and the subtle drama of "Blues for my Baby and Me" suffused with a sitar from Davey Johnstone that's not a pasted on novelty, as sitar often sounds, but an integral part of the arrangment that lends extra sonic weight to the song.

"Have Mercy on the Criminal" is full-on melodrama, while Elton takes the place of a devil-may-care gigolo in "Midnight Creeper", confessing "Long haired ladies, well, they look so fine locked in my cellar full of cheap red wine, But, I don't think those ladies really mind, honey..". "Texan Love Song" is a barbed threat from a man threatened by a longhaired rival who he blames for corrupting the youth with "communistic politics and them negro blues", and "High Flying Bird" is another sweet love song from Elton.

The album as released would be 5 stars on its own, but it's further buttressed by the addition of 4 bonus tracks, all of which are better than average Elton compositions.
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Format: Audio CD
The young Elton at his zenith. I still think that the three songs that open this album are among the greatest songs Elton ever recorded: Daniel ( a classic, of course), Teacher I Need You (little known but fantastic) and Elderberry Wine, one of Elton's most underrated gems. The piano work on this song alone makes it worth your while to purchase this album.
In addition, Crocodlie Rock is as good as it was 28 years ago, when this was released. It's still impossible to listen to this album and not have a smile on your face and feel happy. Elton and Bernie produced some of the great songs of the 70's and four of them are on this record.
If you are trying to decide which Elton albums to sample, this and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" should be at the top of your list.
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Format: Audio CD
"Don't Shoot Me..." is where Elton John finally hit his stride as a 1970's pop sensation, after his gradual evolution from a folk rock singing pianist. Along with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", it's probably the best album he recorded at the "Chateau", Strawberry Studios in France. Bernie Taupin's fine lyrics celebrate 1950's and Western American innocence on songs as diverse as "Teacher I Need You", "Blues For Baby And Me", "High Flying Bird", and Elton's first number one hit, "Crocodile Rock". Producer Gus Dudgeon and his team have remastered an album that sounds cleaner and crisper than my old LP. As for Elton John's singing, he shows some of his finest range during his early "Greatest Hits" period. The bonus tracks, most notably the piano version of "Skyline Pigeon" are fine additions. Without a doubt, this is an essential Elton John CD.

(EDITORIAL NOTE 12/18/2006: "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player" was the last Elton John album to feature composer Paul Buckmaster's superb orchestral arrangements until the 1995 album "Made in England". I'm especially impressed with his string arrangements for "Have Mercy on the Criminal" and "Blues For Baby And Me"; the latter one of his most stirring ballads, and one which should have been a hit single - but was never released - from this album. And I am still amazed with just how good "Texas Love Song" is as the John/Taupin songwriting team's first great effort in country music, which would yield eventually such great hits as "Sad Songs (Say So Much" and "Something About The Way You Look Tonight".).
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