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The Complete Thom Bell Sessions

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Elton John 3/22/1989

Review

After dismissing his recently re-formed backing band and breaking off professional ties with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John sought Philly soul maestro Thom Bell in search of a fresh direction. However, John's brief foray into soul isn't as surprising or unusual as it might initially sound. In fact, two of John's biggest hits -- "Bennie and the Jets" as well the breezy four-on-the floor backbeat on "Philadelphia Freedom" -- also became crossover R&B smashes. Initially, John was not entirely pleased with the results and sat on the tapes for over a year before remixing the six completed songs in early 1979 for a summertime release. Ultimately, John chose half of the material that he and Bell had cut to be included on a three-song EP, which was led by the midtempo and ultimately danceable "Mama Can't Buy You Love." The two other sides -- "Are You Ready for Love" and "Three Way Love Affair" (which were issued on that June 1979 extended-play single) -- were likewise Bell creations and were augmented significantly by some of Philly's finest. Among them were Casey James (guitar), Leroy M. Bell (guitar), and Charles Collins (drums), strings and horns courtesy of none other than MFSB, and backing vocals from the one and only Spinners. When the CD version of that EP was issued, the other three previously unissued tunes documented during those sessions were released. Notable among them are a Taupin/John leftover titled "Nice and Slow" -- which Thom Bell also rearranged -- as well as a John ballad co-written with Gary Osborne titled "Shine On Through." This track would resurface as the leadoff track on John's A Single Man in a much more stark and moody musical setting. ~ Lindsay Planer
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Nice and Slow [Previously Unreleased] Elton John 4:41
  3. 2 Country Love Song [Previously Unreleased] Elton John 5:3
  4. 3 Shine On Through [Previously Unreleased] Elton John 7:45
  5. 4 Mama Can't Buy You Love Elton John 4:3
  6. 5 Are You Ready for Love Elton John 8:15
  7. 6 Three Way Love Affair Elton John 5:0

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