10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs

Rocking Elton John Songs

Photo: Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our 10 Best Rocking Elton John songs list takes a listen to the most explosive rock and roll songs Elton John has ever released. Elton John has had one of the most amazing musical careers of any rock and roll artist. Teamed up with Bernie Taupin early on, Elton and Bernie filled in the gap instantly that was left when the Beatles broke up. Almost right from the start of the release of the first Elton John album, Elton John released hit after hit from 1970 to 1976. Yes, it’s true that his first big hit single, entitled “Your Song,” was a ballad. Yet, any hardcore Elton John fan who got into his music right from the beginning found out that all it took was listening to the Elton John live album 11-17-70 to discover that this man could rock and roll with the best of them. We are not just talking a great rock and roll singer or rock and roll songwriter; we are also talking about a great rock and roll piano player.

If you’re a modest fan who has only heard Elton John’s hit singles on the radio and has never seen Elton John in concert, you might not realize how great of a rock and roll musician Elton John is. This Best Rocking  Elton John songs list is going to change that for those who just don’t know. Oh boy, this was a fun one to put together.

# 11- Funeral For A Friend /Love Lies Bleeding

“Love Lies Bleeding” is such an intense rock and roll performance by Elton John it needs to be on here. How many concerts did you attend where he opened the show with this one? He did it all the time.  This outstanding recording opened up the 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, one of his most classic recordings ever.

# 10 -Burn Down The Mission -Live 11-17-70

We open  our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list with the fantastic live performance of “Burn Down The Mission.” We didn’t know whether to open or close this list with this song. It’s that good. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as long as you take the time to hear it. This performance is going to knock you out.

This classic Elton John song was released on the studio album Tumbleweed Connection. However, the live version released on the 11-17-70 album less than a month after Tumbleweed Connection was released in the UK burned the entire house down. We are talking about a blistering performance by Elton John, Dee Murray, and Nigel Olson on this song that lasted nearly twenty minutes. The song’s first four and a half minutes stay true to the original slow arrangement, but then the song just ignites all over the place as the groups catch fire and blow everyone away in the studio audience.

Elton John plays a little of The Beatles’ “Get Back,” which was still a relatively new song at the time, towards the end of the track. Elton John also included Elvis Presley’s “My Baby Left Me” in the performance of “Burn Down The Mission.” Elton John’s piano playing is all killer. This recording was extraordinary as it closed side two of this phenomenal album.

# 9 – Street Kids

Continuing our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list, we listen to the great song “Street Kids.” The song “Street Kids” was released on the album Rock of the Westies. This was the first Elton John album to feature his new band. Roger Pope was on drums, and the great Kenny Passarelli was on bass.  These two musicians knew each other well and played unbelievably together. Davey Johnson was still playing guitar in the band, and he played well with these guys.

Kenny Passarelli was originally a Barnstorm member with Joe Walsh and wrote the song “Rocky Mountain Way.” We interviewed Kenny Passarelli just as COVID was beginning. It’s a very interesting interview in which Kenny Passarelli did not hold back. Anyways, the Rock Of The Westies album brought fans a new sound, and there was some pretty heavy stuff on the album. “Street Kids,” along with “Grow Some Funk Of Your Own,” were some of the most rocking songs on the record.

Read More: Kenny Passarelli: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

# 8 – All The Girls Love Alice

In the number eight spot on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list, we present the song “All The Girls Love Alice.” The song was released on the album entitled Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. If you are an old-time Elton John fan, I am sure you remember being blown away the first time you heard this song. This was one of the fastest and most intense tracks Elton John ever laid down on vinyl.

The song was never released as a single as there were already three significant hits from the album that were dominating radio ( “Bennie and the Jets, Candle in the Wind, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”) and Elton John was getting ready to release his next album by the time they would have gotten to release “All The Girls Love Alice,” as a single. It’s a standard story between 1970 and 1976 when Elton John released so much fantastic music.

# 7 – Act Of War

In the number seven position on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list is the song “Act Of War.”This may be the one song on this list that many people have never heard. The song was released as a bonus track on the cassette edition of Elton John’s Ice On Fire album. It’s an album considered one of the low points of Elton John’s career, but looking back, it is a decent album. We were all just so used to the 1970 to 76 material that it was hard for us to accept the ’80s material that was just not on the same level of songs as his mid-70s output.

Nonetheless, “Act Of War” was the best song on the album as it was a fast-rocking duet done with a screaming Millie Jackson. This one was fun. It later appeared on the CD and some other Elton John compilations, including the colossal box set To Be Continued…

# 6 – Susie

Landing in the number six spot on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list, we present the song “Susie.” Or should we say “pretty little black-eyed Susie?” The song was released on the grand Honky Château album. While the album featured the mega-hit singles “Honky Cat” and “Rocket Man”(now a furniture store commercial), the most rocking song was the excellent track “Susie.” Loved this one. Still do! 

# 5 -Empty Sky

At the halfway point on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list is the fantastic song entitled “Empty Sky.”The song was issued on the album, also entitled Empty Sky. This was Elton John’s debut album. This one is just so full of passion and energy. We always loved the middle section where it calms down, and that cool Pete Townshend guitar comes roaring in, and then bang, the song is on fire again. You can hear the sound of the late 1960s all over this one. This is rocking psychedelic Elton John.

# 4 – Crazy Water

At number four on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list, we present the song “Crazy Water.” The song was released on the album entitled Blue Moves in 1977. However, the version that we fell in love with was the live performance of just Elton John and Ray Cooper from Moscow in 1979. Like the 11-17-70 performances, Elton John just tares it up on the piano on this version. You could only get this on a boot for years, but it’s been officially released with great sound. Listen to Elton John’s playing. Yeah baby!

# 3 – The Bitch Is Back

Moving along on our top 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list we present the song entitled “The Bitch Is Back.” This rocking tune was released on the Caribou album in 1974. Elton John blended pop music with a great guitar riff and some blaring horns from the Tower of Power band to release a rock and roll pop gem. The song was a number one record in Canada and peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. It would go down as an Elton John classic. The ending is great as they all rocked out together.

# 2 – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Elton John fans knew this one would show up soon. When it was released, it almost gave us all a heart attack. One of the greatest Elton John songs of all time is also one of his most rocking. It all begins with Davey Johnstone’s legendary guitar riff at the song’s start. Lord have mercy, was that amazing? It’s a riff that you just could never forget.

The Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album was a two-record set filled with unbelievable legendary songs. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” was released as the first single of the set, which says a lot about how much Elton John and his record company thought of the song. The song was a Top 10 hit in the UK and a Top 20 hit in the US. It stands as one of the most classic Elton John songs ever released.

# 1 – Take Me To The Pilot

We close out our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list in almost similar fashion as to how we opened it with another great track from the 11-17-70 album. “Take Me To The Pilot opened up the fabulous 11-17-70 album. This is as organic as it got with Elton John. All three musicians are playing their hearts out, trying to win over audiences who mostly didn’t know who Elton John was then. Listen to the separation of the instruments on the recording as you can hear every nuance in the playing.

The bass is pure and tight; the drums sound right before you, and OMG! Elton John’s piano playing was so intense that he eventually bled all over the keys. From the sound of WNEW’s Dave Herman introducing Elton John through the rest of the album, if you had not become an Elton John fan for life after hearing this, then you didn’t know a thing about rock and roll!

Elton John is one of our most covered artists on classicrockhistory.com. Be sure to check out some of our other fun Elton John articles.

 More Elton John………

Top 10 Elton John Songs

Top 10 Most Underrated Elton John Songs

Top 10 Elton John Albums

Top 10 Elton John Album Covers

10 Best Non-Album Track Elton John B Sides

Top 10 Elton John Non-Album Singles

Elton John Discography and Retrospective

Why Elton John’s Captain Fantastic Album Was So Great

Why Elton John’s Honky Château Was A Turning Point

Elton John’s Beautiful “Cage The Songbird,” Featured Crosby & Nash

Elton John’s “White Lady White Powder,” Featured The Eagles (Classic Rock Gems Series)

Elton John’s Retirement Seems Genuine This Time

Why Elton John’s Looking Up is His Best Single in Years

Elton John’s mesmerizing performance of Tiny Dancer in 1971

Updated April 27, 2024

Top 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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