Unheard demo features on reissue of Elton John debut solo LP
By Classic Pop | August 25, 2020
A never before heard demo of Elton John’s Border Song will feature on the Record Store Day reissue of his eponymous debut album released on 29 August.
Long-time Elton collector, Peter Thomas provided the one-off demo to Universal Music for inclusion on the 50th anniversary gatefold double album.
Thomas has a vast collection of the star’s music, including many rare and unusual versions of songs and albums. The Border Song demo has been part of his collection since the late 1970s, when Peter was working at BBC Radio on a programme about Trident Studios, where Elton recorded his first LP, known as the ‘Black Album’. One of the studio’s engineers handed Peter a quarter-inch reel-to-reel tape that contained numerous Elton John demos, including Border Song.
Thomas explained: “These are simple demo recordings with just piano and vocal – no band or string arrangements – very different from the released versions. Elton is in great voice and this demo includes a fine piano solo, too. It’s sure to be sought after by other fans of Elton’s work.
“In many ways I prefer this demo to the release as its rawness and simplicity suit the lyrics and sentiment of the song – one of living together in peace, a familiar theme for music from this period. It is unusual in that the lyrics, normally only written by his lyricist Bernie Taupin, were finished off by Elton in the final verse and transformed the sentiment of the song.”
Border Song was released in April 1970 and was the first single released from the ‘Black Album’. It failed to chart in the UK, unlike second single, Your Song. The track was later covered by Aretha Franklin and charted in December 1970.