Biggleswade, UK—Peter Thomas, owner and managing director of UK speaker manufacturer PMC, has supplied Universal Music Group (UMG) with a rare Elton John recording from his private collection that will be released as part of a special double album.
Thomas, a longtime collector of Elton John’s early work, reportedly has a vast collection of the global superstar’s music, including many rare and unusual versions of songs and albums. The one-off demo of “Border Song” is included on a 50th anniversary gatefold double album that will be released by Universal Music on Aug. 29 as part of Record Store Day.
The track, a piano-only demo version of “Border Song,” has been part of Thomas’ collection since the late 1970s. While he was working at BBC Radio on a program about Trident Studios, where Elton John recorded his eponymous Elton John (also known as the Black Album), one of the studio engineers handed Thomas a quarter-inch, 15-ips reel-to-reel tape that contained the demo track.
UMG and Rocket Entertainment, Elton John’s management company, approached Thomas to see if he could help with their quest to find this unreleased piano demo, as it was missing from their archives and thought to be lost. Using a modified vintage Studer B67 tape machine, Thomas transferred the original tape to a WAV file that he supplied to UMG.
According to Thomas, “These are simple demo recordings with just piano and vocal, with no band or string arrangements, and are very different from the released versions. Elton is in great voice and this demo includes a fine piano solo, too. It is 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,” the first single from the Black Album, was released in April 1970. It failed to chart in the UK, unlike the second single, “Your Song.” The track was later covered by Aretha Franklin and charted in December 1970.
PMC • pmc-speakers.com