“We had done the Honky Chateau album in France, which was a lot of fun, and so this album was very much the continuation.
“Elton’s piano sound is quite unique. In the early days at Trident, he was playing a Bechstein, which was built in the 1840s. It was the most incredible piano I’ve ever worked with – very hard, but with a real bite. For classical music, it was terrible; for rock ‘n’ roll, it was superb.
“We had to try and match that sound in France. I can’t remember what piano was in the studio. It was good, but nothing was like the Bechstein. I would mic the piano with a Neumann U67 on the low end and a Neumann K84 or 86 on the high end.
“Trident had a separate drum booth, whereas the studio in France didn’t. We immediately knew that [drummer] Nigel [Olsson] would be picked up like mad on the piano mics because they cut performances live, so we had to build this huge wooden box built that we put overtop the piano. It had holes built in for the mics, and it completely blocked out other sounds.
“You knew the songs would be smashes. It’s easier to hear that with an artist who’s already well known. If it had been an unknown singing these songs, you’d go, ‘Well, they’re great songs.’ But because Elton was already successful, you knew they would be big.”