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 single rock and roll artist of all time. Teamed up with Bernie Taupin early on, Elton and Bernie simply filled in the gap instantly that was left when the Beatles broke up. Almost right from the start from the release of the first Elton John album, Elton John released hit after 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 just a modest fan who has only heard Elton John’s hit singles on the radio and never seen Elton John in concert, you just 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 was this a fun one to put together.
# 11- Funeral For A Friend /Love Lies Bleeding
When we first released this list yesterday we originally left off Funeral For a Friend /Love Lies Bleeding because sometimes we just miss one. However, we came to our senses today and realized that we needed to include this one on the list. “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 in which he opened the show with this one. He did it all the time. This great recording opened up the 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album which is one of his most classic recordings ever.
# 10 -Burn Down The Mission -Live 11-17-70
We open up our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list with the amazing 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. In the end 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, it’s the live version that was released on the 11-17-70 album less than a month after Tumbleweed Connection was released in the UK that burned the entire house down. We we are talking about a blistering performance by Elton John, Dee Murray and Nigel Olson on this song that lasted for close to twenty minutes. The song’s first four and a half minutes stays true to the original slow arrangement, but then the song just ignites all over the place as the groups catches fire and just blows 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 was an extraordinary recording as it closed side two of this phenomenal album.
# 9 – Street Kids
Continuing with our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list we take a listen to the great song entitled “Street Kids.” Song Street kids was released on the album Rock of the Westies. This was the first Elton John album to feature his new band. On drums was Roger Pope, and on bass was the great Kenny Passarelli. These two musicians know each other really well and played unbelievable together. Davey Johnson was still playing guitar in the band and he played with these guys well. Kenny Passarelli had been originally a member of Barnstorm 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 a new sound to fans 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.
# 8 – All The Girls Love Alice
In the number eight spot on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list we present the song entitled “All The Girls Love Alice.” The song was released on the album entitled Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. If your 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 major 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 pretty common story during those years between 1970 and 1976 when Elton John released so much amazing 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. An album that was considered one of the low points of Elton John’s career, but looking back is actually 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 actually the best song on the album as it was a real fast rocking duet done with a screaming Millie Jackson. This one was fun. It later appeared on the CD as well as some other Elton John compilations including the huge 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 great 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 amazing 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 the number four spot on our 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs list we present the song entitled “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. In very similar fashion to the 11-17-70 performances, Elton John just tears it up on the piano on this version. For years you could only get this on a boot, but it’s been officially released with great sound now. 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. This one almost gave us all a heart attack when it was released. One of the greatest Elton John songs of all time also happens to be one of his most rocking. It all begins with Davey Johnstone’s legendary guitar riff at the start of the song. Lord have mercy was that amazing. A riff that you just simply could never forget. The Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album was a two record set filled with an unbelievable set of legendary songs. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” was released as the first single of the set, which says a lot into 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 single in the US. It stand 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 for the most part didn’t know who Elton John was at the time. 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 like their right in front of 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 all the way 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 classicrockhistoy.com. Be sure to check out some of our other fun Elton John articles.
More Elton John………
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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
Top 10 Best Rocking Elton John Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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Gotta include Love Lies Bleeding, even if it’s paired with Funeral For a Friend…
Yeah you’re probably right, it’s hard to pick just ten.