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

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Pop - Released May 19, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released October 20, 1992 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | Virgin EMI

It is a credit to Elton John's gregarious nature and artistic malleability that DUETS works on so many different levels despite having a line-up of partners that appear to have been picked by someone throwing darts at a list of names. Some appear to make sense whereas others seem unfathomable. It's only proper that EJ's first and most successful partner Kiki Dee returns on a lush remake of Cole Porter's "True Love," while drag superstar RuPaul kitschs it up in Dee's place during a high energy reading of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." Bonnie Raitt helps our hero take the standard "Love Letters" to church with some aid from Billy Preston's sanctified piano playing, whereas the faux countrypolitan pacing of "Born To Lose" works surprisingly well in accommodating both John's supple tenor and Leonard Cohen's low rumble of a voice. Elton John's solo singing is given excellent representation by "Duets For One," an amazingly upbeat song co-written with Squeeze's Chris Difford that features Chris Rea's twangy slide guitar. Rea does double-duty, getting his turn at the mike with John on the guitarist's self-penned "If You Were Me."
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Pop - Released January 1, 1970 | Virgin EMI

Instead of repeating the formula that made Elton John a success, John and Bernie Taupin attempted their most ambitious record to date for the follow-up to their breakthrough. A loose concept album about the American West, Tumbleweed Connection emphasized the pretensions that always lay beneath their songcraft. Half of the songs don't follow conventional pop song structures; instead, they flow between verses and vague choruses. These experiments are remarkably successful, primarily because Taupin's lyrics are evocative and John's melodic sense is at its best. As should be expected for a concept album about the Wild West, the music draws from country and blues in equal measures, ranging from the bluesy choruses of "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun" and the modified country of "Country Comfort" to the gospel-inflected "Burn Down the Mission" and the rolling, soulful "Amoreena." Paul Buckmaster manages to write dramatic but appropriate string arrangements that accentuate the cinematic feel of the album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1975 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released October 1, 2001 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1980 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Elton John entered the second decade of his pop music career releasing his 21st long-player during the 33rd year of his life, hence the album's title. It also marked the tentative return of former writing partner Bernie Taupin after a four-year sabbatical. Although the reunion yielded a trio of tunes, "Chasing the Crown," "Two Rooms at the End of the World," and "White Lady White Powder," unfortunately they all suffer from the same nauseating disco vibe that made John's previous effort, 1979's Victim of Love, so thoroughly dismissible. However, the following year's 21 at 33 is far from a complete washout. Building on the strength of his relationship with Gary Osborne -- with whom John had created A Single Man (1978) -- the pair wrote the standouts "Dear God" and "Take Me Back" as well as the hit single "Little Jeannie." "Sartorial Eloquence" harks back to the classic "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," thanks to the all-star backing vocals from Eagles Glenn Frey and Don Henley as well as Toni Tennille, Bruce Johnston, and Peter Noone (from Herman's Hermits). Interestingly, John briefly reassembled his 1970s core band of Davey Johnstone (guitar), Dee Murray (bass), and Nigel Olsson (drums), although their contributions sound more like an afterthought when compared to those of studio stalwarts Richie Zito (guitar), Steve Lukather (guitar), Lenny Castro (percussion), and an all-star horn section of Chuck Findley (trumpet), Jim Horn (sax), and Jerry Hey (trumpet). The scattered nature and lack of cohesion on 21 at 33 would translate onto John's next few albums such as The Fox (1981) and Jump Up! (1982). Not until the full-fledged reunion with Taupin and backing quartet on Too Low for Zero (1983) would John begin to reestablish himself as a central pop music figure. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Pop - Released January 1, 1982 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Jump Up! (1982) was Elton John's first full LP to have been recorded in the 1980s, and is best remembered for including "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," John and lyricist Bernie Taupin's tribute to the their slain friend John Lennon. While the pair had been writing together again, albeit infrequently, since the late '70s, John continued to include material written with his primary non-Taupin collaborator, Gary Osborne. The latter team had previously scored big with "Little Jeannie" on John's 21 at 33 (1980), and to a lesser degree with the noir ballad "Chloe" from The Fox (1981). However, on Jump Up!, the quality of material ranges from the absurd and inane "I Am Your Robot" and the insipid breakup opener "Dear John" to the sublime beauty of "Blue Eyes" and the cathartic value of the aforementioned "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)." The dramatic "Legal Boys" is an understated masterpiece, marking the first public effort between John and Sir Tim Rice. The pair would garner Tony and Grammy awards 12 years later for their work on the original motion picture soundtrack to the animated feature film The Lion King (1994). John's backing band includes many of the same musicians who contributed to his most recent recordings. Representing the "classic" personnel are Dee Murray (bass) and post-Captain Fantastic (1975) recruit James Newton-Howard (keyboards). Fleshing out the core combo are studio guitarist extraordinaire Richie Zito and Toto drummer (and another highly regarded session heavy) Jeff Porcaro. Steve Holly, who worked with Wings as well as John circa A Single Man (1978), guests on the tracks "I Am Your Robot" and "Ball & Chain," the latter also featuring guest guitarist Pete Townshend. While far from a total washout, Jump Up! would remain tethered in the wake of the follow-up, Too Low for Zero (1983), marking a reunion between John and both his "classic" 1970s combo and Taupin. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Pop - Released January 1, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1979 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released February 24, 2005 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Virgin EMI

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Pop/Rock - Released January 9, 2007 | Calvin

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Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Virgin EMI

After dismissing his recently re-formed backing band and breaking off professional ties with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John sought Philly soul maestro Thom Bell in search of a fresh direction. However, John's brief foray into soul isn't as surprising or unusual as it might initially sound. In fact, two of John's biggest hits -- "Bennie and the Jets" as well the breezy four-on-the floor backbeat on "Philadelphia Freedom" -- also became crossover R&B smashes. Initially, John was not entirely pleased with the results and sat on the tapes for over a year before remixing the six completed songs in early 1979 for a summertime release. Ultimately, John chose half of the material that he and Bell had cut to be included on a three-song EP, which was led by the midtempo and ultimately danceable "Mama Can't Buy You Love." The two other sides -- "Are You Ready for Love" and "Three Way Love Affair" (which were issued on that June 1979 extended-play single) -- were likewise Bell creations and were augmented significantly by some of Philly's finest. Among them were Casey James (guitar), Leroy M. Bell (guitar), and Charles Collins (drums), strings and horns courtesy of none other than MFSB, and backing vocals from the one and only Spinners. When the CD version of that EP was issued, the other three previously unissued tunes documented during those sessions were released. Notable among them are a Taupin/John leftover titled "Nice and Slow" -- which Thom Bell also rearranged -- as well as a John ballad co-written with Gary Osborne titled "Shine On Through." This track would resurface as the leadoff track on John's A Single Man in a much more stark and moody musical setting. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Pop - Released January 1, 1972 | Virgin EMI

Considerably lighter than Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau is a rollicking collection of ballads, rockers, blues, country-rock, and soul songs. On paper, it reads like an eclectic mess, but it plays as the most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote. The skittering boogie of "Honky Cat" and the light psychedelic pop of "Rocket Man" helped send Honky Chateau to the top of the charts, but what is truly impressive about the album is the depth of its material. From the surprisingly cynical and nasty "I Think I'm Going to Kill Myself" to the moving ballad "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," John is at the top of his form, crafting immaculate pop songs with memorable melodies and powerful hooks. While Taupin's lyrics aren't much more comprehensible than before, John delivers them with skill and passion, making them feel more substantial than they are. But what makes Honky Chateau a classic is the songcraft, and the way John ties disparate strands of roots music into distinctive and idiosyncratic pop -- it's one of the finest collections of mainstream singer/songwriter pop of the early '70s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Elton John in the magazine