A Single Man (album)
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|A Single Man|
|Studio album by Elton John|
|Released||16 October 1978|
|Recorded||Autumn 1977, January – September 1978, The Mill, Cookham, Berks|
|Genre||Rock, pop, disco|
|Producer||Clive Franks, Elton John|
|Elton John chronology|
|Singles from A Single Man|
|Rolling Stone||(not rated)|
It is the first of John's albums to not feature longtime collaborators Bernie Taupin (lyricist) and Gus Dudgeon (producer). As Gary Osborne was an unknown at the time, many people misinterpreted the album's title to imply that John wrote the entire album himself. The only returning members of his band are percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone; the latter only played on one song on the album. Paul Buckmaster would not appear on another Elton John album until Made in England.
Unlike previous compositions in which lyrics came first, John began writing melodies at a piano and an album unintentionally became of it.
This was John's first in which he started singing in a lower register.
The hit "Song for Guy" was a tribute to Guy Burchett, a young Rocket messenger who was killed in a motorcycle accident. The song was a near-global success, charting high everywhere except the US and Canada, where John's label, MCA Records, didn't feel that it had hit potential, due to the recent success of the instrumental "Music Box Dancer".
The songs "Return to Paradise" and "Song for Guy" are used in the 1980 film Oh! Heavenly Dog.
The photo for the front cover was taken in the Long Walk, which is part of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire. The inside cover shows John in a Jaguar XK140 FHC.
In the US, A Single Man was certified gold in October 1978 and platinum in November of the same year by the RIAA.
A Single Man was John's first album ever to be officially released in the former USSR, though his previous releases had been smuggled into the country in various forms. It was released following the success of his A Single Man in Concert shows in Moscow and Leningrad, though it differed in two ways from its release elsewhere. Firstly, the album was re-titled Poyot Elton John ["Elton John sings" in Russian]. Secondly, on some prints, both "Big Dipper" and "Part-Time Love" were removed, due to the subject matter of the songs. Curiously, John had performed "Part-Time Love" at the USSR shows without objection from Soviet officials.
The 1998 reissue has five bonus tracks, the first two being the 1978 flop-single "Ego", and its B-side "Flinstone Boy". The next two tracks are the B-sides of "Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy" ("I Cry at Night" and "Lovesick" respectively), and the last track, "Strangers", originally B-side of his 1979 disco-album title track, "Victim of Love". Some releases of his 1980 album, 21 at 33, also have "Strangers" as a bonus track.
Promotion and live performances
At the time of release, John performed some songs from the album on shows such as Countdown (miming "Georgia" and "Madness"), Top of the Pops (miming "Part-Time Love" and performing "Song for Guy"), Bruce Forsyth's Big Night (performing "Part-Time Love"), Parkinson (performing "Song for Guy") and Rockpop (miming "Return to Paradise" and "Part-Time Love"). He performed two solo sets: one for MCA personnel at the Century Plaza Hotel on 14 October 1978 (performing "Shine on Through", "Return to Paradise" and "Song for Guy") and the other at a RTL studio on 20 October 1978 (performing "Part-Time Love", "Shooting Star" and "Song for Guy"). John's tour in 1979 included songs from the album ("Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy").
Since that period, songs other than "Song for Guy" have not been performed.
- "Shine on Through" – 3:45
- "Return to Paradise" – 4:15
- "I Don't Care" – 4:23
- "Big Dipper" – 4:04
- "It Ain't Gonna Be Easy" – 8:27
- "Part-Time Love" – 3:16
- "Georgia" – 4:50
- "Shooting Star" – 2:44
- "Madness" – 5:53
- "Reverie" (John) – 0:53
- "Song for Guy" (John) – 6:35
Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)
- "Ego" (John, Bernie Taupin) – 4:00
- "Flinstone Boy" (John) – 4:13
- "I Cry at Night" (John, Taupin) – 3:16
- "Lovesick" (John, Taupin) – 3:59
- "Strangers" (John, Osborne) – 4:46
|"I Cry at Night"||"Part-Time Love" 7" (US/UK)|
|"Lovesick"||"Song for Guy" 7" (US/UK)|
- Elton John – piano, harmonium, church organ, vocals, backing vocals, clavinet, mellotron, Polymoog, Solina String Synthesizer
- Ray Cooper – congas, tambourine, tympani, vibraphone, shakers, wind chimes
- Vicki Brown – backing vocals
- Paul Buckmaster – orchestra arrangement, ARP
- B.J. Cole – steel guitar
- John Crocker – clarinet, tenor saxophone
- Herbie Flowers – acoustic bass
- Clive Franks – bass guitar
- Rhythm Box – rhythm box
- Patrick Halcox – trumpet
- Steve Holly – drums, horn
- Davey Johnstone – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Stevie Lange – backing vocals
- Henry Lowther – trumpet
- Gary Osborne – backing vocals
- Tim Renwick – acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, Leslie guitar
- Fender Rhodes – electric piano
- Jim Shepherd – trombone
- Joanne Stone – backing vocals
- Chris Thompson – backing vocals
- Watford Football Club – backing vocals
- Producers: Clive Franks, Elton John
- Supervising producer: Mike Gill
- Engineers: Phil Dunne, Stuart Epps, Clive Franks, Peter Mew
- Mixing: Phil Dunne, Stuart Epps, Clive Franks
- Mastering: Ian Cooper
- Digital remastering: Gus Dudgeon
- Coordination: Alex Foster
- Arranger: Joanne Stone
- Orchestral arrangements: Paul Buckmaster
- Sleeve design: David Costa
- Graphic design: Mike Storey
- Liner editor: John Tobler
- Liner notes: Chris White
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- A Single Man (album) at AllMusic
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