On November 24th 2008, a year after the UK release of Beautiful World, Take That released the single Greatest Day.
The twelve months preceding this single’s release had seen them ask questions of themselves and their support, questions that were answered emphatically by Beautiful World. Did Take That still have what it takes? Yes, indeed they did, and the proof was on that album. Was there still a space for Take That in the music world? Yes, indeed there was. Beautiful World was a big bold success and songs like Patience and Shine were the dot on the exclamation point.
Greatest Day is the type of single a band releases when they know they have an album coming to equal that quality. Greatest Day showed everyone that the quality was not about to dip, although by this point no-one seriously thought that it would.
This concert, on 14th December 1986, before eleven thousand people in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, was the last in a series of twenty seven performances covering all of Australia… You are joining the concert after the interval, just as the eighty eight-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is heard and seen for the first time on this, the last night of the tour…
There are absolutely no overdubs on this album.
Taken from the liner notes of the album, released in 1987.
Those words give this performance quite a build-up, don’t they? Twenty seven performances covering all of Australia, an eight eight-piece orchestra behind him, the last night of the tour. It was reportedly the first time anything like this had been attempted by a pop or rock artist and it took months and months of rehearsal, Elton himself paid a heavy price for this performance. During the tour, which began in in Brisbane on November 5th, specialists discovered nodules on his vocal cords, and he would go for surgery on them within a month of leaving this stage. Elton has since said that there was a very real fear that the last song he sang that night in December ’86, would be his last ever; Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was then, a rather fitting choice.
Brutal and Beautiful; John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band
As music goals go, John Lennon had it right; start a band, change the world, don’t hang around for people to get bored of you. It’s a simplistic way of looking at it of course, and it minimises the beautiful journey that everyone went on, the Beatles were after all the twentieth century’s greatest romance.
In 1970 John Lennon was not inviting passengers, he wasn’t even really looking to tell any stories aside from his own, he was stating his own truth. Plastic Ono Band, released in December of that year is his truth. It is harsh and brutal and beautiful all in one and the listener is meant to feel all the sharp edges because the man himself felt them all too. Plastic Ono Band isn’t for everyone, it’s almost as if the listener is a scruffy urchin, perhaps an Apple Scruffy urchin, standing on the roadside wanting to hitch a ride with the driver, and the driver has to pick us up because no one else will. We are merely catching a lift, it’s not our journey and we don’t have to go to his destination, but we are on the ride for the duration of this album at least, as uncomfortable as it may be.