A Single Man (album)
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|A Single Man|
|Studio album by|
|Released||16 October 1978|
|Recorded||January – September 1978|
|Studio||The Mill, Cookham, Berks|
|Genre||Rock, pop, disco|
|Producer||Clive Franks, Elton John|
|Elton John chronology|
|Singles from A Single Man|
A Single Man, released in 1978, is the twelfth studio album release for Elton John. It is the first album where Gary Osborne replaced Bernie Taupin as lyricist. It is also the first of two (the second being Victim of Love) Elton John albums to not have any tracks co-written by Bernie Taupin on the original cut.
A Single Man is the first of John's albums to not include lyricist Bernie Taupin, and the first since his debut Empty Sky without producer Gus Dudgeon. The returning members of his band are percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone; the latter played on only 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 came about from this. This was also John's first album in which he started singing in a lower register. "Song for Guy" was written as a tribute to Guy Burchett, a young Rocket messenger who was killed in a motorcycle accident.
The staff and players of Watford Football Club, of whom John was chairman at the time, provide backing vocals on both "Big Dipper" and "Georgia". Also featured on these tracks are the backing vocals of the female staff from John's record label, Rocket Records, credited as 'The South Audley Street Girl's Choir'.
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. John stopped wearing his trademark glasses in public for a period during the late 1970s, and the album photo reflects this.
The album was released on 16 October 1978 by MCA in America, and by Rocket in the UK. Singles from the album were "Part-Time Love", October 1978; "Song for Guy", November 1978; and "Return to Paradise", 1979. "Song for Guy" was a near-global success, charting high everywhere except the US and Canada, where John's label, MCA Records, did not feel that it had hit potential, in spite of the recent success of the instrumental "Music Box Dancer".
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.
In the US, A Single Man was certified gold in October 1978 and platinum in November of the same year by the RIAA. Like with many of John's releases of the late-70s and the 1980s, it received generally mixed reviews from critics.
|Christgau's Record Guide||C|
|Rolling Stone||(not rated)|
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 Bruce Forsyth's Big Night (performing "Part-Time Love"), Countdown (miming "Georgia" and "Madness"), The Old Grey Whistle Test (performing "Shooting Star" and "Song for Guy"), The Morecambe & Wise Show (performing "Shine on Through"), Parkinson (performing "Song for Guy"), Rockpop (miming "Return to Paradise" and "Part-Time Love") and Top of the Pops (miming "Part-Time Love" and performing "Song for Guy"). 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
- Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–11 on CD reissues.
Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)
|"I Cry at Night"||"Part-Time Love" 7" (US/UK)|
|"Lovesick"||"Song for Guy" 7" (US/UK)|
Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.
- Elton John – lead vocals, backing vocals (1, 2, 8), pianos (1, 4, 11), piano (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10), clavinet (3), harmonium (7), church organ (7), Fender Rhodes (8), mellotron (11), synthesizer (11), ARP (11), solina (11)
- Ray Cooper – tambourine (1, 3-7, 9), marimba (2), shaker (2, 8, 11), vibraphone (5), congas (6, 9), timpani (9), wind chimes (11), rhythm box (11)
- Vicki Brown – backing vocals (3, 6)
- Paul Buckmaster – orchestra arrangements (1, 3, 5, 6, 9), arrangements (2), ARP, synthesizer (10)
- B.J. Cole – pedal steel guitar (7)
- John Crocker – clarinet (4), tenor saxophone (8)
- Herbie Flowers – bass guitar (8)
- Clive Franks – bass guitar (1-7, 9, 11)
- Patrick Halcox – trumpet (4)
- Steve Holley – drums (1-9), motor horn (4)
- Davey Johnstone – lead guitar (6), backing vocals (6)
- Stevie Lange – backing vocals (3, 6)
- Henry Lowther – trumpet (2)
- Gary Osborne – backing vocals (1, 2, 3, 6)
- Tim Renwick – acoustic guitar (2, 3), electric guitar (4, 5, 6, 9), Leslie guitar (7), mandolin (7)
- Jim Shepherd – trombone (4)
- The South Audley Street Girl's Choir – backing vocals (4, 7)
- Joanne Stone – backing vocals (3, 6)
- Chris Thompson – backing vocals (3, 6)
- Watford Football Club – backing vocals (4, 7)
- 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 at Utopia Studios (London, UK).
- Digital remastering: Gus Dudgeon
- Coordination: David Croker and Alex Foster
- Sleeve design: David Costa
- Graphic design: Mike Storey
- Photography: Terry O'Neill
- Liner editor: John Tobler
- Liner notes: Chris White
- Management: John Reid
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- A Single Man at AllMusic
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