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Elton John - Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

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Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

Elton John

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Sitting atop the charts in 1975, Elton John and Bernie Taupin recalled their rise to power in Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, their first explicitly conceptual effort since Tumbleweed Connection. It's no coincidence that it's their best album since then, showcasing each at the peak of his power, as John crafts supple, elastic, versatile pop and Taupin's inscrutable wordplay is evocative, even moving. What's best about the record is that it works best of a piece -- although it entered the charts at number one, this only had one huge hit in "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," which sounds even better here, since it tidily fits into the musical and lyrical themes. And although the musical skill on display here is dazzling, as it bounces between country and hard rock within the same song, this is certainly a grower. The album needs time to reveal its treasures, but once it does, it rivals Tumbleweed in terms of sheer consistency and eclipses it in scope, capturing John and Taupin at a pinnacle. They collapsed in hubris and excess not long afterward -- Rock of the Westies, which followed just months later is as scattered as this is focused -- but this remains a testament to the strengths of their creative partnership.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

Elton John

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1
Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
00:05:46

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

2
Tower Of Babel
00:04:28

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

3
Bitter Fingers
00:04:34

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

4
Tell Me When The Whistle Blows
00:04:20

Gene Page, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

5
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
00:06:45

Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

6
(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket
00:04:01

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

7
Better Off Dead
00:02:37

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

8
Writing
00:03:40

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Piano, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

9
We All Fall In Love Sometimes
00:04:12

Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - David Hentschel, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

10
Curtains
00:06:39

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - David Hentschel, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

11
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
00:06:18

John Lennon, Participant, ComposerLyricist - Paul Mccartney, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1974 This Record Company Ltd.

12
One Day At A Time
00:03:49

John Lennon, Participant, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1974 Mercury Records Limited

13
Philadelphia Freedom
00:05:21

Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

14
House Of Cards
00:03:11

Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, MainArtist - Gus Dudgeon, Producer

℗ 1975 This Record Company Ltd.

DISC 2

1
Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:07:02

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

2
Tower Of Babel Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:04:38

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

3
Bitter Fingers Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:05:06

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

4
Tell Me When The Whistle Blows Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:04:39

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

5
Someone Saved My Life Tonight Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:07:17

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

6
(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:07:19

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

7
Better Off Dead Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:03:01

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

8
Writing Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:05:30

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

9
We All Fall In Love Sometimes Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:03:57

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

10
Curtains Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:08:48

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

11
Pinball Wizard Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:06:31

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Elton John, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Pete Townshend, ComposerLyricist - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

12
Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) Live From "Midsummer Music" At Wembley Stadium / 1975
00:07:39

Kenny Passarelli, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Brian Russell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, Author - Elton John, Composer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - BRENDA RUSSELL, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Donny Gerrard, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Caleb Quaye, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Pope, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2005 This Record Company Ltd.

Album Description

Sitting atop the charts in 1975, Elton John and Bernie Taupin recalled their rise to power in Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, their first explicitly conceptual effort since Tumbleweed Connection. It's no coincidence that it's their best album since then, showcasing each at the peak of his power, as John crafts supple, elastic, versatile pop and Taupin's inscrutable wordplay is evocative, even moving. What's best about the record is that it works best of a piece -- although it entered the charts at number one, this only had one huge hit in "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," which sounds even better here, since it tidily fits into the musical and lyrical themes. And although the musical skill on display here is dazzling, as it bounces between country and hard rock within the same song, this is certainly a grower. The album needs time to reveal its treasures, but once it does, it rivals Tumbleweed in terms of sheer consistency and eclipses it in scope, capturing John and Taupin at a pinnacle. They collapsed in hubris and excess not long afterward -- Rock of the Westies, which followed just months later is as scattered as this is focused -- but this remains a testament to the strengths of their creative partnership.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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