by the way , are you a musician?? your mixing is very musical and usually that means the mix cat is a musician ( prob bass or drums ) . i also was wondering how long you would spend on a mix on average and if you had 4 sets of hands on the mix desk while you mix ...or were you always mixing alone and just cutting 2 track tape , and just go as far as you could without stopping 2 track and picking it up again???
I can't answer for Ken obviously...but....
I do believe he played the synthesizer on some things....Daniel, for one...
and I don't know if I saw it in that Yellow Brick Road doc, or an interview somewhere, but I believe that Gus Dudgeon said he likes to mix in sections....take a few passes on the verse for example, then the chorus, and so on, and then splice the sections together....I thought that was pretty interesting....I don't know if Ken worked that way, or if most did back in the days of tape...and I would think they'd need a few sets of hands, as that was before fader automation, right? And the way those mixes move and breathe, it's not like he's just bringing up the guitar solo or something...
I love those early elton John record, to me there were three disctinct early phases:
1. The first three (not including "Empty Sky"), that would be "Elton John", "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Madman Across The Water".
2. The ear candy group of "Don't Shoot me..", "Honky Chateau" "Yellow Brick.." and "Caribou".
3. Then another change in sound with "Captain Fantastic" and "Rock Of The Westies" and "Blue Moves".
Among those three phases, Elton also changed his writing style, experimenting with certain chord inversions and song forms, for instance, in the third phase, he begins stretching his harmonies to include non chord-tones in the bass, for example, an Eb triad over a Db in the bass....cool stuff and a big inspiration for me in my early learning to write years.
To me, Elton John is a true genious when it comes to moving the same chord/similar chords over different bass notes and making it all flow cohesively.... in fact, he's a pure genious period. "Take Me To The Pilot" might be one of my Top 5 songs of all time.