A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
The tonality here is rich, tubey and warm. It doesn’t get thick or murky as many copies have a tendency to do.
The amazing engineer KEN SCOTT (Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century, Truth, Birds of Fire) is the man responsible for the sound here.
The kind of Tubey Magical richness, smoothness and fullness he achieved at Trident in the early ’70s as well as here at a certain French country estate have never been equaled elsewhere in our opinion.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a ’70s Pop/Rock record.
Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than any of the other copies we played in our shootout.
The best copies — and this is As Good As It Gets, Triple Triple — have:
- Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
- Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
- Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
- Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
- Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
- And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.
Teacher I Need You
Blues for My Baby and Me
Have Mercy on the Criminal
I’m Gonna Be a Teenage Idol
Texas Love Song
High Flying Bird
Elton John became a true superstar with 1972’s Honky Chateau. He followed that album with Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, his most direct, pop-oriented album to date… the hits are remarkable — “Daniel” is a moving ballad and “Crocodile Rock” is a sly take on ’50s rock & roll… it is a very enjoyable piece of well-crafted pop/rock.
Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player is the sixth studio album by Elton John. released by DJM Records, it was John’s sixth normal studio album release, and was his second straight No. 1 album in the US, yielding his first No. 1 single in both the US and Canada: “Crocodile Rock”.
Once again, the team returned to France to record at the Château d’Hérouville, also known at the time as “Strawberry Studios”, which was how the studio was credited in the album’s sleeve. The album featured horns arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon on “Elderberry Wine” (the B-side to “Crocodile Rock”), “Midnight Creeper” and “I’m Gonna Be a Teenage Idol”, the latter of which was inspired by John’s friend, T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan.
The horn players were the same ones, in fact, who were used on Honky Château. Paul Buckmaster returned to add strings on “Blues for Baby and Me” and “Have Mercy on the Criminal”. During his Australian concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1986, John lauded Buckmaster’s work on songs such as “Have Mercy on the Criminal”, calling the string arrangements “revolutionary”.
The album was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK and US album charts. It is one of only three albums to feature just the core band of John on pianos and keyboards, Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, without percussionist Ray Cooper. The other two are Honky Château (1972) and Breaking Hearts (1984).
An outtake of note was a re-recording of “Skyline Pigeon”, which became the B-side to the single of “Daniel”.
Critics at the time called some of the performances, especially “Crocodile Rock”, derivative, which John freely acknowledged years later. In His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by author Elizabeth Rosenthal, John said “Crocodile Rock” was written as an overt homage to ’50s records, and his vocal intentionally mimicked singer Bobby Vee. “High Flying Bird” was designed to sound like a Van Morrison record, and “Midnight Creeper” was a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones.
John toured Australia during 1972 and was so inspired by Daddy Cool’s hit single “Eagle Rock” that, with Taupin, he wrote “Crocodile Rock”. The cover of this album has a photo of lyricist Taupin wearing a “Daddy Who?” promotional badge.
Don’t Shoot Me… was also, according to John, the first album during which he felt comfortable experimenting with his vocal performances and style.