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The Thom Bell Sessions
EP by Elton John
Released June, 1979 (reissued February 1989)
Recorded Autumn 1977
Length 18:05
Label MCA

The Elton John EP The Thom Bell Sessions (MCA-13921), recorded in the second half of 1977, was not released by MCA Records until June of 1979. The project was a departure for Elton at the time. Up until that time, he had worked almost exclusively with lyricist Bernie Taupin and record producer Gus Dudgeon. Also, Elton's band was not used at these sessions. This project brought John together with legendary R&B songwriter and producer Thom Bell, who had previously worked with The Stylistics, The Delfonics and The Spinners (who sang backing vocals here), among others. Bell produced all the tracks and co-wrote one of the songs with his nephew, Leroy Bell, and Casey James, who together comprised the popular singing duo Bell & James. Bell and James co-wrote the other songs in this set. During these sessions, Thom Bell also advised Elton John on vocal skills, including encouraging him to sing in a lower register..[1]

The project ended up producing one top 10 single: "Mama Can't Buy You Love", which peaked at #9 in 1979. Although more songs were recorded during the sessions, only three were included in this set. Ten years later, MCA Records released The Complete Thom Bell Sessions (MCA-39115), bringing together the unreleased material with the previously released music.


Track listing


Side one

  1. "Are You Ready for Love" (L. Bell-T. Bell-C. James) - 8:31

Side two

  1. "Three Way Love Affair" (L. Bell-C. James) - 5:31
  2. "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (L. Bell-C. James) - 4:03

The Complete Thom Bell Sessions

In February 1989, this CD was released by MCA Records, which featured three additional songs. [2]

  1. Nice and Slow (Elton John-Bernie Taupin-T. Bell)
  2. Country Love Song (L. Bell-C. James)
  3. Shine on Through (Elton John-G. Osborne)
  4. Mama Can't Buy You Love (L. Bell-C. James)
  5. Are you Ready for Love (L. Bell-C. James)
  6. Three Way Love Affair (L. Bell-C. James)

Interesting notes about this CD version: the first three tracks were (according to the CD sleeve) previously unreleased. "Shine on Through" is a different version than the one that appears as the opening track on Elton's "A Single Man" album. And, though not noted on the CD, the mix of "Are You Ready For Love" is different than the original EP version, with several other vocalists singing different lines of the second verse instead of Elton, among other more subtle differences. The EP mix of the song did, however, surface on CD as a bonus track on a CD single release of "The Last Song."


  1. ^ His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by Elizabeth Rosenthal
  2. ^ Cornflakes and Classics: A Musical History of Elton John ; [1]


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