Recorded in the charmed period between the initial success of ELTON JOHN and superstar extravaganzas like GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION, a loose concept album about the American West, was a strange, sideways move for Elton John and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. A album in the traditional sense, it is best heard as a piece, with songs that pick up and expand on each other's moods and settings. Notice, for example, the progression of characters from the young fighter waving "My Father's Gun," to the retired and forgotten "Talking Old Soldiers," to the protagonist of "Where To Now St. Peter?," shot down by "a sweet young foreign gun" and ready to be judged by his maker.
The mood holds from the sepia-toned LP cover art to John's songwriting, influenced by folk and country music and by The Band's MUSIC FROM BIG PINK. Among the songs it introduced were "Country Comfort," which Rod Stewart covered on GASOLINE ALLEY, and "Come Down In Time," later done by both Judy Collins and Sting. Though the rollicking piano epic "Burn Down The Mission" and "Amoreena" became FM-radio and concert staples, TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION remains the only John studio album without a hit single, a fact that doesn't affect the impact of this excellent country-rock outing.
Recording information: Trident Studios, London, England.
Personnel: Elton John (vocals, piano, organ); Mick Ronson (guitar); Caleb Quaye (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Lesley Duncan (acoustic guitar, background vocals); Mike Egan (acoustic guitar); Les Thatcher (6-string guitar, 12-string guitar); Gordon Huntley (steel guitar); Skaila Kanga (harp); Johnny Van Derek (violin); Ian Duck (harmonica); Karl Jenkins (oboe); Brian Dee (organ); Chris Laurence (acoustic bass guitar); Dee Murrey (bass guitar, background vocals); Dave Glover, Herbie Flowers (bass guitar); Roger Pope (drums, percussion); Nigel Olsson (drums, background vocals); Barry Morgan (drums); Robin Jones (congas, tambourine); Dusty Springfield, Madeline Bell, Sunny Leslie, Tony Burrows, Tony Hazzard, Kay Garner, Sue Glover, Tammi Hunt (background vocals).
Liner Note Authors: John Tobler; Gus Dudgeon.