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Elton John’s Historic 1979 Show In USSR For Release As ‘Live In Moscow’

The show, broadcast by BBC Radio 1 at the time, has been remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2019 from the original BBC analogue tapes.

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Elton John Live From Moscow artwork

Elton John’s landmark performance in Russia in 1979, with percussionist Ray Cooper, will be widely released on album by UMe on 24 January. Live From Moscow, which was broadcast by BBC Radio 1 at the time, has been remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2019 from the original BBC analogue tapes.

The show, which made Elton the first major Western star to play behind the Iron Curtain. The record was an immediate sellout when it appeared as a limited pressing for Record Store Day 2019, and will be released in the new year on 2LP vinyl, plus 2CD and digital formats.

The concert came at the end of the artist’s A Single Man tour, which followed his 1978 album of that name. It featured him playing completely solo sets on his Steinway grand piano and the electric Yamaha CP80, then returning for a second half accompanied by the larger-than-life figure of percussionist and longtime Elton collaborator Cooper.

The show in the USSR took place at the Rossiya Hall in Moscow and signalled a significant thawing in East‐West relations, resulting in the Soviet authorities giving the state‐owned Melodiya record company the permission to issue A Single Man. This made it the first Western pop album to be officially released in the USSR.

The 16-song set was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on 28 May 1979 and presented by DJ Andy Peebles, who observed that “the Russian audience is a great deal more restrained than the audiences in Britain.” But the stirring performance roused the Russian audience to full-throated participation, as they thriled to such treats as a 12-minute version of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and a closing medley of ‘Crocodile Rock’/‘Get Back’/‘Back In The USSR.’

“I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said Elton of the tour and the concert. “It was one of the most memorable and happy tours I have been on. The last show was probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever given in my life. Working with Ray, with just the two of us on stage, was both exhilarating and challenging.”

Live From Moscow will be released on 24 January. Scroll down for the tracklisting, and pre-order it here.

Listen to the best of Elton John on Apple Music and Spotify.

All songs ‘Live From Rossiya Hall, Moscow 1979’
2LP version:

Side 1
1. Daniel
2. Skyline Pigeon
3. Take Me To The Pilot
4. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)

Side 2
1. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
3. Candle In The Wind
4. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Side 3
1. Funeral For A Friend
2. Tonight
3. Better Off Dead
4. Bennie And The Jets

Side 4
1. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
2. Crazy Water
3. Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) / Pinball Wizard
4. Crocodile Rock / Get Back / Back In The U.S.S.R

2CD version:

CD1
1. Daniel
2. Skyline Pigeon
3. Take Me To The Pilot
4. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
5. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
6. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
7. Candle In The Wind
8. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

CD2
1. Funeral For A Friend
2. Tonight
3. Better Off Dead
4. Bennie And The Jets
5. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
6. Crazy Water
7. Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) / Pinball Wizard
8. Crocodile Rock / Get Back / Back In The U.S.S.R

 

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