Elton John

Philadelphia Freedom

Song Review by

One of Elton John’s most instantly recognizable as well as signature pieces, “Philadelphia Freedom” was initially released in early 1975 as a 7” single. Also noteworthy is the flipside which includes a live version of “I Saw Her Standing There” that features John Lennon during what would be his final concert performance. The first appearance of the track on an LP was not until the 1977 Elton John’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 compilation. The easily danceable proto-disco rhythm is a copious nod to the concurrently popular Philly Soul sound. This made it a hit not only on the pop, but also the R&B singles chart. One anomaly apparent to eagle-eyed enthusiasts is that the platter was first issued under the moniker of the Elton John Band, rather than the artist’s more common singular credit. Likewise, the subject matter was somewhat of a departure for John and lyricist Bernie Taupin in that they had rarely ever composed music for a specific purpose -- in homage to tennis star Billie Jean King and her team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. It was also in response to John’s (who is an avid tennis player) surprise gift of a tailor-made tennis outfit which was presented to the musician by King during a tourney attended by both. Although the song was recorded around the time of the autobiographical Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboys album, it is notable for its use of a powerful horn section as well as a sprightly string arrangement -- similar to the approach taken on the LP track “Tell Me When The Whistle Blows”. Philly natives MSFB and the blue-eyed soul duo Hall And Oates have both covered “Philadelphia Freedom” with great results. A decidedly funkier reading from Ike and Tina Turner was issued on the mostly forgettable Home Grown Funk (1980) compilation.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1973 Def Jam / Island / Rocket Group Pty LTD / Universal 0:00
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy 1975 Def Jam / Island / Rocket Group Pty LTD / Universal / Universal Music 5:25
Billboard Top Hits: 1975 1975
Various Artists
Rhino 5:41
No Image 1975 MCA 0:00
No Image 1980 K-Tel Distribution
No Image 1983 DJM Records 0:00
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1986 Island / Def Jam / motownmoe.com / Polydor / Universal 5:23
Sounds of the Seventies: 1975 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:29
The Very Best of Elton John [Polygram] 1990 Polygram / PolyGram 5:42
To Be Continued... 1990 MCA 5:38
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Billboard Top Hits: 1975-1979 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 5:41
25 Years of Number 1 Hits, Vol. 3 1996
Various Artists
Tales of the City 1998
Original Soundtrack
Polygram 5:18
Classic Rock 70's 2000
Various Artists
Trans World 5:20
The Greatest Hits 1970-2002 2002 Island / Universal 5:22
Dream Ticket 2004 WAB
Naughty But Nice 2005
Various Artists
Family Recordings 5:12
Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits 2007 UMVD / Universal Distribution 4:59
Rocket Man: Number Ones 2007 Island / Mercury 5:21
No Image 2007 Universal Distribution 5:21
Gold Classic Hits Radio '70s 2009
Various Artists
Gold Classic Hits Radio / Universal Music 5:00
Diamonds 2017 Island / Mercury / Universal 5:30
No Image Rock
Party Tyme Karaoke: Billboard Top 40 Karaoke, Vol. 6
Sybersound Records 5:22