4 to 5 45s: Elton and Billy
You might notice this column looks a tad different.
This week, rather than featuring a traditional 10- or 12-inch LP that spins at 33 1/3 rpm, I’m featuring records just more than half that size that spin a touch faster — 7-inch records that spin at 45 rpm.
Featuring this size of record seems timely. While singles have always taken precedence for the purpose of radio play, they’re more important today than ever. Some musicians release nearly every song on their album as a single.
This week’s featured records each have two songs, one on each side. The benefit of 45s is that sometimes you can listen to only the songs you like or know instead of the whole album.
I’ll admit, 45s aren’t my favorite. Putting the adapter on my turntable and flipping records frequently requires more effort. Plus, I like the whole shebang of a full-size record — the large album cover, the inserts featuring artwork and lyrics, and the fact that it takes up more space.
A few years ago, an older woman I met at work said she found a box of 45s in her attic and asked if I wanted them. I agreed, because, why not? I wasn’t expecting any good music.
Low and behold, it was all good music. And, the records were in decent shape.
Today I’m featuring five of 'em. In the future, I will feature four or five 45s a time, and write a few brief notes about each.
“I’m Still Standing” and “Love So Cold” by Elton John
“I’m Still Standing” was from Elton’s popular 1983 album “Too Low for Zero.” It’s a catchy track with super punchy verses.
Its “Love So Cold” was an outtake from his 1980 album, “21 at 33.” It has some serious tropical vibes.
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Snow Queen” by Elton John
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” featuring Kiki Dee is arguably one of Elton’s most well-known and liked songs. The 1976 song was never recorded on a full original album. I could never flip the radio station if this Motown-inspired song came on. It’s so cheery and charming. It expresses the innocence of a new love.
The B-side song, “Snow Queen,” featuring Kiki Dee, was Cher-inspired. The ballad is far more classic rock than the A-side track. The 1976 song definitely has the flair of the quintessential 1970s duet — soft and subtle.
“Little Jeannie” and “Conquer the Sun” by Elton John
“Little Jeannie” is a single from Elton’s 1980 album, “21 at 33.” This classic rock ballad is a well-written song and tugs the heartstrings well enough, but not a personal favorite. But, you know I like song titles featuring names.
In a rare scenario, I actually prefer the B-side — although the songs complement each other nicely. “Conquer the Sun” flows rightfully at a slower pace. The theatrical music and crooning vocals have more passion.
“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “Through the Long Night” by Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s hit 1980 song, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” really charms me. Billy’s boyish talk vocals and the classic lyrics quickly bring a smile to my face. My favorite lyrics are, “Don’t waste your money on a new set of speakers. You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers.”
“Through the Long Night” has an appropriate title for its tempo. It features many elongated vocals and sounds. I prefer when the song speeds up at its midway point, but the track does boast a dreamy feel.
“Tell Her About It” and “Easy Money” by Billy Joel
“Tell Her About It” is on Billy’s 1983 album, “An Innocent Man.” Much like Elton’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” the song is Motown-inspired. Billy steals my heart every time I hear one of his pop-rock anthems.
“Easy Money” is on the same album. It’s a fast tempo song with the same Motown influence. He really pulls out the vocal stops for this one. He has a wicked growl.