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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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It was designed to be a blockbuster and it was. Prior to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John had hits -- his second album, Elton John, went Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K., and he had smash singles in "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" -- but this 1973 album was a statement of purpose spilling over two LPs, which was all the better to showcase every element of John's spangled personality. Opening with the 11-minute melodramatic exercise "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" -- as prog as Elton ever got -- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road immediately embraces excess but also tunefulness, as John immediately switches over to "Candle in the Wind" and "Bennie & the Jets," two songs that form the core of his canon and go a long way toward explaining the over-stuffed appeal of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This was truly the debut of Elton John the entertainer, the pro who knows how to satisfy every segment of his audience, and this eagerness to please means the record is giddy but also overwhelming, a rush of too much muchness. Still, taken a side at a time, or even a song a time, it is a thing of wonder, serving up such perfectly sculpted pop songs as "Grey Seal," full-bore rockers as "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll)," cinematic ballads like "I've Seen That Movie Too," throwbacks to the dusty conceptual sweep of Tumbleweed Connection in the form of "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34)," and preposterous glam novelties, like "Jamaica Jerk-Off." This touched on everything John did before, and suggested ways he'd move in the near-future, and that sprawl is always messy but usually delightful, a testament to Elton's '70s power as a star and a musician. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Bandes originales de films - Released May 24, 2019 | Virgin EMI

Producer Giles Martin, son of the legendary George Martin, is at the helm of the soundtrack of the film Rocketman, which tells the story of Elton John's rise into the music world. The retro flavour of this biopic and its soundtrack works at full strength, especially when you consider that Martin Jr. was at the forefront of the pop frenzy that shook England in the 1960s and 1970s. Its elegant and punchy arrangements are certainly very close to the sound of the time, but it also sometimes brings in certain textures, a breath of fresh air that could be described as "postmodern". Rocketman's soundtrack album does not feature any instrumental music from the film, but only hits by the star performed by Taron Egerton, the actor who plays him on screen. Egerton certainly thrills with his vocal prowess, but we should not forget the presence of other actors in some songs: I Want Love is performed by Kit Connor, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard and Steven Mackintosh, while The Bitch is Back, Don't Go Breaking My Heart and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are duets with, respectively Sebastian Rich, Rachel Muldoon and Jamie Bell (who has the difficult task of playing Bernie Taupin, Elton John's favourite songwriter). But the piece of most bravura of this Rocketman soundtrack is certainly the schizophrenic delirium that is the song that closes the record since it is a cover of (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again by Taron Egerton in duet with Elton John himself. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

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Empty Sky was followed by Elton John, a more focused and realized record that deservedly became his first hit. John and Bernie Taupin's songwriting had become more immediate and successful; in particular, John's music had become sharper and more diverse, rescuing Taupin's frequently nebulous lyrics. "Take Me to the Pilot" might not make much sense lyrically, but John had the good sense to ground its willfully cryptic words with a catchy blues-based melody. Next to the increased sense of songcraft, the most noticeable change on Elton John is the addition of Paul Buckmaster's grandiose string arrangements. Buckmaster's orchestrations are never subtle, but they never overwhelm the vocalist, nor do they make the songs schmaltzy. Instead, they fit the ambitions of John and Taupin, as the instant standard "Your Song" illustrates. Even with the strings and choirs that dominate the sound of the album, John manages to rock out on a fair share of the record. Though there are a couple of underdeveloped songs, Elton John remains one of his best records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Bandes originales de films - Released June 21, 2019 | Virgin EMI

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Producer Giles Martin, son of the legendary George Martin, is at the helm of the soundtrack of the film Rocketman, which tells the story of Elton John's rise into the music world. The retro flavour of this biopic and its soundtrack works at full strength, especially when you consider that Martin Jr. was at the forefront of the pop frenzy that shook England in the 1960s and 1970s. Its elegant and punchy arrangements are certainly very close to the sound of the time, but it also sometimes brings in certain textures, a breath of fresh air that could be described as "postmodern". Rocketman's soundtrack album does not feature any instrumental music from the film, but only hits by the star performed by Taron Egerton, the actor who plays him on screen. Egerton certainly thrills with his vocal prowess, but we should not forget the presence of other actors in some songs: I Want Love is performed by Kit Connor, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard and Steven Mackintosh, while The Bitch is Back, Don't Go Breaking My Heart and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are duets with, respectively Sebastian Rich, Rachel Muldoon and Jamie Bell (who has the difficult task of playing Bernie Taupin, Elton John's favourite songwriter). But the piece of most bravura of this Rocketman soundtrack is certainly the schizophrenic delirium that is the song that closes the record since it is a cover of (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again by Taron Egerton in duet with Elton John himself. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

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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
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

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Trading the cinematic aspirations of Tumbleweed Connection for a tentative stab at prog rock, Elton John and Bernie Taupin delivered another excellent collection of songs with Madman Across the Water. Like its two predecessors, Madman Across the Water is driven by the sweeping string arrangements of Paul Buckmaster, who gives the songs here a richly dark and haunting edge. And these are songs that benefit from grandiose treatments. With most songs clocking in around five minutes, the record feels like a major work, and in many ways it is. While it's not as adventurous as Tumbleweed Connection, the overall quality of the record is very high, particularly on character sketches "Levon" and "Razor Face," as well as the melodramatic "Tiny Dancer" and the paranoid title track. Madman Across the Water begins to fall apart toward the end, but the record remains an ambitious and rewarding work, and John never attained its darkly introspective atmosphere again. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 24, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Pop music rarely mixes with politics, but in the middle of the Cold War, a Western star such as Elton John performing a rousing show in a Moscow concert hall is a joy to behold, a symbol of attempted appeasement between East and West. Elton John’s tour of the Soviet Union took place not long after he had announced a withdrawal from music, citing professional and moral exhaustion. Despite this, and although the production was rather understated (Elton John, his Steinway, his Yamaha CP80 and his percussionist Ray Cooper), the British singer genuinely electrified the Russian public with this performance in May 1979. Propelled by the fact that his album A Single Man (released one year beforehand) was the first official release of a Western pop album in the Soviet Union, the Rocket Man singer seemed to tap into the energy that he had been struggling to keep hold of. At the time, the Soviet government was reluctantly lifting cultural restrictions. This concert was broadcast by the BBC, and it is from original analog tapes recovered from the archives of the British radio that this disc was completely remastered by Elton John and Bob Ludwig. The delectable programme of the concert contains epic versions (12 minutes each) of I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Bennie and the Jets, a moving rendition of Tonight as well as a devilishly enjoyable mash-up of Crocodile Rock, Get Back and Back in the USSR. In fact, the Russian authorities had asked Elton John not to sing that last one. But that would be to underestimate the singer’s free spirit. Finally, this live album teaches us that music only temporarily cools tension as a few months later, tensions between the two blocs picked up again with the invasion of Afghanistan and the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1976 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1976 | Virgin EMI

Although initially considered a contractually obligated release, when Here and There (1976) was upgraded in 1995 as part of Elton John's (piano/vocals) "Classic Years" catalog overhaul, it became the most definitive live document to date of his immortal '70s quintet that featured the pianist backed by Davey Johnstone (guitar/backing vocals), Dee Murray (bass/backing vocals), Nigel Olsson (drums), and Ray Cooper (percussion). What was originally a single vinyl long-player was expanded to nearly two hours and 20 minutes, spread over two CDs. The "Here" show was recorded at an Invalid Children's Aid Society Benefit at Royal Festival Hall in London on May 18, 1974. John begins with a pair of early solo numbers before being joined by the band for inspired readings of hits such as the rousing "Take Me to the Pilot" and "Crocodile Rock" as well as the equally integral deep cuts "Bad Side of the Moon" and a very special version of the ballad "Love Song" -- featuring a rare duet with the song's author and original co-vocalist Leslie Duncan (vocals). Another real treat is the funky and loose rendering of "Honky Cat" with some interesting interaction between John and Cooper. Six months later John and company hit Madison Square Garden in New York City for a series of shows over Thanksgiving weekend. In acknowledgement of a wager set forth between John and John Lennon that stated, if the duo's single "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" from Lennon's Walls and Bridges (1974) album topped the singles chart, Lennon would join Elton on-stage for a few numbers. Needless to say the song bound to the number one position, and the stage was literally set for the very first live appearance from Lennon in two years -- which would ironically and tragically likewise be the last he would ever give. Immediately differentiating the "There" show is the comparatively massive audience. This show is as much about spectacle (1974 style) as it is about music. Not that the music suffers in the least. Although John's voice has sounded better, the band are in top form as they rant and rave through the blistering "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" opener. Among the surprises are the romping live versions of "Grey Seal" and "You're So Static." However, the unmitigated highlight is Lennon's surprise three-song guest shot. Both legends perform their latest singles -- for Lennon it is the aforementioned "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" and for John it is the non-LP cover of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" -- both of which are quite powerful in terms of sheer vibe. Their finale of "I Saw Her Standing There" is ragged-but-right with Johnstone cleverly quoting "I Feel Fine" during the bridge from the verse to the chorus. While the remainder of the set hold its own, it pales in the wake of the preceding momentous performance. This should be considered essential listening for enthusiasts as well as curious music historians. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released February 5, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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Elton John gives away his game with not just the title of Wonderful Crazy Night but its artwork. Our hero stands against a garish, colorful backdrop, sporting a grin a mile wide, signaling that he's once again ready to have fun. The measured melancholy of The Diving Board aside, Elton hasn't precisely avoided fun since returning to making records for himself, not the charts, with 2001's Songs from the West Coast, but a certain sobriety crept into the proceedings, particularly when he joined forces with producer T-Bone Burnett for The Union, the 2010 duet album with Leon Russell. Burnett is back for Wonderful Crazy Night and so is John's touring band, making their first studio appearance since 2006's The Captain & the Kid. It's possible to feel the presence of all of Elton's collaborators: the band brings a bit of a kick to the proceedings and the ever-tasteful Burnett reins things in, keeping things from being too crazy, while lyricist Bernie Taupin schemes with John to keep things from being too wonderful. To be sure, there's a fair amount of joy and swagger here, particularly on the ebullient opening pair of "Wonderful Crazy Night" and "In the Name of You," two songs perched between a canny, knowing nostalgia and casual craft. As the record rolls on, seams start to appear, not in the performances or production -- this is an album that sounds as comforting as a long candlelit bath -- but in the compositions. Often, the tunes appear to be handsome constructions -- grand, stately, and well appointed -- but their foundations are shaky, constructed from threadbare melodies and words that dissipate not long after they land. It's an odd mix of lazy and laborious; the songs feeling tossed together in an afternoon and then recorded meticulously. As such, Wonderful Crazy Night never lingers in the imagination -- there are no hooks to pull a listener back in for another spin -- but it sounds just fine as it plays. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1975 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1995 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

So the story goes like this. Inspired by their work on the Leon Russell duet album The Union, producer T-Bone Burnett encouraged Elton John to return to making albums like he used to in the old days for 2013's The Diving Board, harking back to the days when he wrote quickly and recorded with little more than a rhythm section. This all sounds like a major shift in aesthetic for John, but Elton has been on a decade-long quest to tap into that old magic, beginning his voyage into the past with 2001's Songs from the West Coast and getting progressively elliptical with each subsequent release. The Diving Board does indeed evoke ghosts of Elton past but it never suggests the hits. It's an album consisting almost entirely of songs that riff on "Sixty Years On" and "Rotten Peaches" -- long, languid ballads or open-ended blues-rockers where atmosphere trumps hooks. Occasionally, Elton musters up elongated melodies that eventually catch hold, but The Diving Board isn't a collection of finely sculpted pop; it's a set of song poems and ballads, all placing emphasis on mood, not immediacy. This is an exceptional idea in theory; in practice it is ever so slightly formless, floating whenever it should be taking root. There are moments where the tempo gets ever so slightly sprightly -- "Take This Dirty Water" has a dirty gospel shuffle reminiscent of a toned-down "Take Me to the Pilot," "The Ballad of Blind Tom" is faithful to the spirit of Tumbleweed Connection, "Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight)" not only rocks but has a welcome gust of tastelessness -- but that only emphasizes just how ponderous the rest of the record is. There is much that is admirable about The Diving Board -- the feel is spacious and haunting, the ambition is commendable -- but the emphasis on tone over song means it leaves only wistful wisps of melancholia behind with the actual songs seeming like faded, distant memories. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released October 5, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released February 5, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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His true fans know well that the golden age of Elton John is starting to get away from them ... However, with The Diving Board published in 2013, the master of British pop proved that all was most certainly not lost... with Wonderful Crazy Night, this quasi-resurrection is confirmed. For this 33rd studio album offers traces of musical DNA that escaped from his legendary 1972 song, Rocket Man. Above all, this 2016 vintage presents stylish alloy, nervous pop, and soft rock, as if it were a secret formula. In each song, the melodies bulge and, as always with Elton John, Bernie Taupin takes care of the writing, with the production entrusted in turn to T Bone Burnett (already producer of The Diving Board). Elton John has performed somewhat of a clean-up, not inviting any of the musicians with whom he usually works.  At 68, Sir Elton signs off an energetic record, combining his expected strengths with some unexpected freshness. © CM / Qobuz
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Pop - Released October 1, 2001 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

So the story goes like this. Inspired by their work on the Leon Russell duet album The Union, producer T-Bone Burnett encouraged Elton John to return to making albums like he used to in the old days for 2013's The Diving Board, harking back to the days when he wrote quickly and recorded with little more than a rhythm section. This all sounds like a major shift in aesthetic for John, but Elton has been on a decade-long quest to tap into that old magic, beginning his voyage into the past with 2001's Songs from the West Coast and getting progressively elliptical with each subsequent release. The Diving Board does indeed evoke ghosts of Elton past but it never suggests the hits. It's an album consisting almost entirely of songs that riff on "Sixty Years On" and "Rotten Peaches" -- long, languid ballads or open-ended blues-rockers where atmosphere trumps hooks. Occasionally, Elton musters up elongated melodies that eventually catch hold, but The Diving Board isn't a collection of finely sculpted pop; it's a set of song poems and ballads, all placing emphasis on mood, not immediacy. This is an exceptional idea in theory; in practice it is ever so slightly formless, floating whenever it should be taking root. There are moments where the tempo gets ever so slightly sprightly -- "Take This Dirty Water" has a dirty gospel shuffle reminiscent of a toned-down "Take Me to the Pilot," "The Ballad of Blind Tom" is faithful to the spirit of Tumbleweed Connection, "Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight)" not only rocks but has a welcome gust of tastelessness -- but that only emphasizes just how ponderous the rest of the record is. There is much that is admirable about The Diving Board -- the feel is spacious and haunting, the ambition is commendable -- but the emphasis on tone over song means it leaves only wistful wisps of melancholia behind with the actual songs seeming like faded, distant memories. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released February 5, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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Elton John in the magazine