CD Review: Elton John

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Elton John
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Boxed Set
by David Chiu

Throughout his career, Elton John has released so many albums – and that’s not even counting the many live records and compilations. Out of those 31 studio records, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is probably the quintessential record from the Rocket Man as it definitely represented the apex of his popularity in the early ’70s. More than that, the double record is an artistic statement and an overview of his stylistic range: from the epic, almost progressive rock opening track “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”; through the stadium singalong of “Bennie and the Jets” and the pop balladry of the title song; and to the tender tribute to Marilyn Monroe in “Candle in the Wind,” Those aforementioned songs along with the explosive “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” have since been benchmarks of John’s catalog but the non-singles tracks on the record are noteworthy on their own right: the reggae tinged “Jamaica Jerk-Off,” the 50s’ styled rocker “Your Sister Can’t Twist,” and the gospel-ish closing track “Harmony.”

Forty years later, this classic album is given the royal reissue treatment in this massive box set: in addition to the original album, there are live performances from the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973 and B-sides and singles such as “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Step Into Christmas.” The highlight of the reissue are several cover versions of the album’s songs from today’s artists – including Ed Sheeran’s acoustic folk take of “Candle in the Wind,” the Band Perry’s countryfied version of “Grey Seal” and Emilie Sande’s somewhat haunting and slow tempo rendition of “All the Girls Love Alice.” Those covers pay tribute to the timeless and enduring power of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s songs – and in particular, John’s best album ever.


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