Elton John – Rock of the Westies Album

Side one

  1. Medley (Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly)” (John, Davey Johnstone, Taupin) – 6:13
  2. Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)” – 3:30
  3. Island Girl” – 3:42
  4. Grow Some Funk of Your Own” (John, Johnstone, Taupin) – 4:43
  5. I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)” – 5:28

Side two

  1. Street Kids” – 6:23
  2. Hard Luck Story” (Ann Orson/Carte Blanche) – 5:10
  3. Feed Me” – 4:00
  4. Billy Bones and the White Bird” – 4:24

Rock of the Westies is the tenth studio album by British singer and composer Elton John.

The name of the album is a pun by John. He changed the American common idiom “West of the Rockies” in “Rock of the Westies”, where “Westie” as a nickname of the breed West Highland White Terrier or for dodgy persons is used.

Like Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Rock of the Westies was # 1 on the US Billboard 200 charts. These were the only two albums to succeed at the time. It was less successful in John’s home country of Great Britain and just finished fifth in the UK album charts.

Rock of the Westies included US number one single Island Girl (UK # 14), which was released before the album. John mentioned in a radio interview that instead of Island Girl he’d rather have Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future) released as the first single. He thought it had more commercial potential. However, he could not prevail over the producer. Dan Dare was never released as a single while Island Girl became a hit.

Before the recordings of Rock of the Westies John changed the cast of the Elton John band. In April 1975 he had separated from drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray. In their place came drummer Roger Pope, an old friend of John, with whom he already worked for Empty Sky, Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water and who also played in Kiki Dee’s tour band, and American bassist Kenny Passarelli, who previously worked with Stephen Stills and as an original member of Joe Walsh’s band Barnstorm. Also included was Caleb Quaye, another old friend of John’s from his previous DJM days. Like Pope, Quaye had worked on Empty Sky and Tumbleweed Connection. John picked up keyboarder James Newton-Howard again. As a member of the band were thus only Davey Johnstone and Ray Cooper left.

The title Hard Luck Story had already been recorded by Kiki Dee and released a year before the recording for Rock of the Westies. Together with Do not Go Breaking My Heart are called as composer Ann Orson / Carte Blanche, which is a pseudonym for the duo John / Taupin. Ann Orson is also known as the name of a backing voice. Also accompanying, Labelle can be heard for the opening title Medley: Yell Help / Wednesday Night / Ugly.

John released his album the day before the final concerts of his West of the Rockies tour during the “Elton John Week” in Los Angeles.

Outside the US and Canada, this was the last studio album released by John through DJM Records before being made by his own label, The Rocket Record Company.

The title Street Kids was used in 2008 in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

At the time of publication, Rock of the Westies received quite good reviews in well-known media in Germany. However, the attention was rather restrained, possibly because it was only half a year after the outstanding Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy appeared. From today’s perspective, it probably represents the only consistent Rockalbum by Elton John.

Robert Christgau rated the album as number 7 of his best albums list of 1975.