Elton John is commemorating the 40th anniversary of his historic 1979 U.S.S.R. tour by officially releasing his May 29th, 1979 stop at Moscow’s Rossiya Hall. It will come out January 24th on streaming services, via a two-CD set and on a double LP vinyl package.
The tour came two years after Elton John announced his retirement from the road citing burnout and exhaustion. It was a stripped-down show in support of his new LP A Single Man; he was backed only by percussionist Ray Cooper. It was a commercially disappointing release, but it became the first Western pop album officially released inside the Soviet Union. This came at a time when the Soviet government was slowly lifting cultural restrictions and it led to John becoming one of first major Western pop stars, following Cliff Richard, to tour the country.
The set featured a cross-section of songs from John’s entire career, including “Daniel,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Skyline Pigeon” and “Take Me to the Pilot.” Russian authorities made the mistake of telling him not to cover the Beatles’ “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” so of course he played it at every show. The final night was broadcast on the BBC and was widely bootlegged as a result, but this new release has been remastered by Bob Ludwig from the original BBC analogue tapes.
Elton John is in the middle of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road, and Ray Cooper remains a part of his band. The tour has yet to reach Russia.
Tracklist for Elton John & Ray Cooper Live From Moscow
2. Skyline Pigeon
3. Take Me To The Pilot
4. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
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
1. Funeral For A Friend
3. Better Off Dead
4. Bennie And The Jets
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