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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

Pop - Released April 13, 2019 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released December 7, 2018 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released November 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Arriving ten years after the single-disc Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits (known as Rocket Man: Number Ones in North America) and 15 years after the double-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002, Diamonds ups the game by offering two variations on Elton John's greatest hits: a double-CD version and a limited-edition triple-disc box set. Given John's canon is close to set, it should come as no surprise that Diamonds follows the same path as its predecessors -- indeed, the first ten songs on Diamonds are the same as those on Greatest Hits 1970-2002, with minor rejiggering; ultimately, there is a 26-song overlap -- but within its standard two-disc set, it finds a place for some important hits absent in prior comps. Notably, this has "Little Jeannie," "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That," and his live duet with George Michael, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," all welcome additions, and as it extends into the present, it also finds space for John's artistic renaissance of the 21st century in the form of "Electricity," "Home Again," and "Looking Up." The third disc on the deluxe version deepens the story further by adding a bunch of hits that could've feasibly been included on the first two discs -- "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Pinball Wizard," "Mama Can't Buy You Love," "Part-Time Love," "Victim of Love," "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," "Kiss the Bride," the superstar charity single "That's What Friends Are For" -- and also underscores his enduring stardom and cultural reach by including OK '90s U.K. hits with Kiki Dee, Pavarotti, and LeAnn Rimes, plus his 2012 U.S. dance hit with Pnau, "Good Morning to the Night" (conspicuous in their absence is any duet with Leon Russell). This last disc offers up plenty of hits but it also feels slightly messy because of the leap from "Kiss the Bride" to "Live Like Horses," but that only indicates how John would've been equally well served by a four-disc set. Instead, we get this excellent -- if incomplete -- collection that is equally satisfying in either its double-disc or triple-disc incarnation. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Arriving ten years after the single-disc Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits (known as Rocket Man: Number Ones in North America) and 15 years after the double-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002, Diamonds ups the game by offering two variations on Elton John's greatest hits: a double-CD version and a limited-edition triple-disc box set. Given John's canon is close to set, it should come as no surprise that Diamonds follows the same path as its predecessors -- indeed, the first ten songs on Diamonds are the same as those on Greatest Hits 1970-2002, with minor rejiggering; ultimately, there is a 26-song overlap -- but within its standard two-disc set, it finds a place for some important hits absent in prior comps. Notably, this has "Little Jeannie," "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That," and his live duet with George Michael, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," all welcome additions, and as it extends into the present, it also finds space for John's artistic renaissance of the 21st century in the form of "Electricity," "Home Again," and "Looking Up." The third disc on the deluxe version deepens the story further by adding a bunch of hits that could've feasibly been included on the first two discs -- "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Pinball Wizard," "Mama Can't Buy You Love," "Part-Time Love," "Victim of Love," "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," "Kiss the Bride," the superstar charity single "That's What Friends Are For" -- and also underscores his enduring stardom and cultural reach by including OK '90s U.K. hits with Kiki Dee, Pavarotti, and LeAnn Rimes, plus his 2012 U.S. dance hit with Pnau, "Good Morning to the Night" (conspicuous in their absence is any duet with Leon Russell). This last disc offers up plenty of hits but it also feels slightly messy because of the leap from "Kiss the Bride" to "Live Like Horses," but that only indicates how John would've been equally well served by a four-disc set. Instead, we get this excellent -- if incomplete -- collection that is equally satisfying in either its double-disc or triple-disc incarnation. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 3, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Arriving ten years after the single-disc Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits (known as Rocket Man: Number Ones in North America) and 15 years after the double-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002, Diamonds ups the game by offering two variations on Elton John's greatest hits: a double-CD version and a limited-edition triple-disc box set. Given John's canon is close to set, it should come as no surprise that Diamonds follows the same path as its predecessors -- indeed, the first ten songs on Diamonds are the same as those on Greatest Hits 1970-2002, with minor rejiggering; ultimately, there is a 26-song overlap -- but within its standard two-disc set, it finds a place for some important hits absent in prior comps. Notably, this has "Little Jeannie," "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That," and his live duet with George Michael, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," all welcome additions, and as it extends into the present, it also finds space for John's artistic renaissance of the 21st century in the form of "Electricity," "Home Again," and "Looking Up." The third disc on the deluxe version deepens the story further by adding a bunch of hits that could've feasibly been included on the first two discs -- "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Pinball Wizard," "Mama Can't Buy You Love," "Part-Time Love," "Victim of Love," "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," "Kiss the Bride," the superstar charity single "That's What Friends Are For" -- and also underscores his enduring stardom and cultural reach by including OK '90s U.K. hits with Kiki Dee, Pavarotti, and LeAnn Rimes, plus his 2012 U.S. dance hit with Pnau, "Good Morning to the Night" (conspicuous in their absence is any duet with Leon Russell). This last disc offers up plenty of hits but it also feels slightly messy because of the leap from "Kiss the Bride" to "Live Like Horses," but that only indicates how John would've been equally well served by a four-disc set. Instead, we get this excellent -- if incomplete -- collection that is equally satisfying in either its double-disc or triple-disc incarnation. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The late '80s were wrought with equal measures of tremendous professional popularity and personal crisis for Elton John. As he would reveal later, this inspired double-LP live collection released in 1987 captures the artist at one of the best and worst times of his life. In fact, John cites the emotionally charged "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" as triggering what would become a "severe mental breakdown," the results of nearly a decade of substance-fueled decadence. On top of it all and perhaps most tellingly is John's tattered voice. So dire was the situation that literally within weeks of the concert he would undergo a surgical procedure that could have easily ended his career had it failed. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that at this precise moment John was launching his re-association with MCA Records via this live career retrospective, which was simultaneously broadcast throughout the entire globe. Keeping all of that in mind, Elton John once again proved himself as a consummate showman, performing at the peak of his abilities. John's comparatively small combo is augmented on these tracks by the 88-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the direction of onetime bandmate James Newton Howard. There are a few surprisingly strong readings of early sides such as "60 Years On," "I Need You to Turn To," "The Greatest Discovery," and an edgy and soulful version of "The King Must Die." Other unexpected detours into John's catalog include the intimate desperation of "Tonight" from Blue Moves (1976) and "Have Mercy on the Criminal" from Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (1973). There are also the hits and enthusiast favorites "Tiny Dancer," "Your Song," "Candle in the Wind" (which was issued as a single and topped pop music charts worldwide), the previously mentioned "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." The companion home video includes a few additional performances, such as the thoroughly inspiring "One Horse Town." While not entirely essential, Live in Australia is at its core an adeptly executed concert package. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 20, 1992 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

At the time Rare Masters was released in 1992, most of the selections on this 37-track double-disc compilation were indeed rare. They were issued on non-LP singles, B-sides, the Friends soundtrack, one-offs; some were buried on album tracks, and some even stayed in the vault. Since then, Elton John's catalog has been remastered and reissued, with much of the best of this material appearing as bonus tracks, but the album still was worthwhile, since it not only has some songs that never appeared elsewhere on disc (such as "Step Into Christmas"' B-side, "(Ho Ho Ho) Who'd Be a Turkey at Christmas"), but it also is a hell of a listen in its own right, showcasing great songs and forgotten gems from John's prime period. There aren't too many hits here, but the quality is startlingly high and consistent, showcasing John and Taupin's partnership at its peak -- though they might not have hit the charts, "Bad Side of the Moon," "Rock & Roll Madonna," "Into the Old Man's Shoes," "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)," "Screw You (Young Man's Blues)," and the radio staple "Madman Across the Water," plus "Grey Seal" (later re-recorded for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) are among the finest songs of the era, and they're the linchpins on a rarities collection, not a proper album. It doesn't quite keep that same high level throughout, largely due to the pleasant but forgettable instrumentals from Friends, but it's still an essential part of any Elton John collection. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Building off of the success of his previous long player Too Low For Zero (1983), Elton John (piano/vocals) retained his 'classic quartet' for the follow-up Breaking Hearts (1984). After an eight year ('75 -- '83) hiatus Dee Murray (bass/backing vocals), Davey Johnstone (guitar/backing vocals) and Nigel Olsson (drums/backing vocals) briefly reunited with John and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) to attempt a musical resurrection of their early-to-mid '70s sound. Without question this is one of John's most consistent efforts during his half decade on Geffen Records ('81 -- '86). However the shift in pop music styles since 1975 as well as lack of edgy material, seemed to stifle the band's return to full form circa Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (GYBR) (1973) or Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). Breaking Hearts was not light on hits either, yielding "Who Wears These Shoes" as well as the Top 5 smash "Sad Songs (Say So Much)"." The oft over looked "L'il 'Frigerator" is a high octane rocker that could be considered a post script to "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll)" from GYBR. The opening cut "Restless" is also one of the spunkier tracks and came off particularly well when John hit the road with his formidable sidemen to support the disc. The vast majority of Breaking Hearts however, is met with varying degrees of success. Both "In Neon" and the reggae-dub influenced "Passengers" were best suited to the lighter pop genre and Adult Contemporary radio format where John joined the ranks of Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie and George Michael. This stylistic direction, while concurrently popular, also criminally under-utilised the synergy between the artist and band. With the exception of the noir 'unplugged' title performance "Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used To Be)" a majority of the LP is indistinguishable from much of the rest of his mid '80s and early '90s catalogue. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1981 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The early '80s were not a particularly focused time in Elton John's career. The Fox (1981) is a reflection of the tentative regrouping that began on his previous effort, 21 at 33 (1979). In fact, a third of the material was left over from the same August 1979 sessions. This results in dithering musical styles and ultimately yields an uneven and at times somewhat dated sound. The reunion with Bernie Taupin (lyrics) that commenced on 21 at 33 is once again sparsely tapped. He contributes the tepid "Heels of the Wind" as well as "Just Like Belgium," which foreshadows the pair's future lightweight efforts such as "Nikita." Slightly more promising, however, is the midtempo rocker "Fascist Faces" -- which may well be a nod to David Bowie's infamous "Britain could benefit from a fascist leader" statement. The album's introspective title track instantly recalls the slightly bittersweet "Curtains" coda from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys (1975). Gary Osborne and Elton John's collaborations were beginning to yield some impressive results, including "Heart in the Right Place" -- which could easily have been a follow-up to the slinky Caribou (1974) track "Stinker." The tender "Chloe" conclusion to the "Carla/Etude/Fanfare" medley became one of two tracks extracted as singles. The other, "Nobody Wins," sports a Euro-beat flavor and was adapted from a French techno-pop hit by Osborne and Jean-Paul Dreau. According to John, the dark and noir "Elton's Song" remains a favorite, and he very occasionally revives it for live performances. Although The Fox isn't a grand slam, it isn't exactly a bunt either. However, the incremental momentum would continue on the subsequent long-player, Jump Up! (1982), before culminating on his '80s breakthrough, Too Low for Zero (1983). © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1979 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

This thoroughly dated affair is the result of a chance re-acquaintance between Elton John (vocals) and Pete Bellotte (producer). The artist was not fully satisfied with the initial results of the three-song "Mama Can't Buy You Love" EP, which became as much a product of Philly soul maverick Thom Bell as it did John. When Bellotte approached John to record a full-length disco album, he took him up on the offer. This was providing that John's contributions would be limited to providing vocals only. The results can be heard on Victim of Love (1979), a dismissible platter of Teutonic 4/4 rhythms and extended (mostly) instrumental indulgence. None of the seven cuts offer very much in terms of what Elton John enthusiasts would not only have expected, but more importantly, enjoyed. Although the title track was extracted as a single in the U.S. and the disgraceful cover of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was issued as a 45 rpm in Europe, neither made much impact. In fact, with the exception of the Friends (1971) motion picture soundtrack -- consisting of mostly instrumental incidental scoring -- Victim of Love was John's lowest charting album to date. Although on a temporary touring hiatus, once John returned to the road, he wisely chose not to incorporate any of the material from the project on-stage. In fact, contrasting the blatant sonic excess of this release, John was concurrently performing as a solo act, backed only by longtime percussionist Ray Cooper. This "unplugged" setting restored some of the good will between John and his audience that Victim of Love had disenfranchised. Thankfully, the artist (and the rest of the music world) abandoned disco as the 1970s turned into the 1980s. His next effort, 21 at 33 (1980), allowed him to begin a long re-ascension on the music charts as well a restoration of his pop/rock leanings. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 19, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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

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

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

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 /TiVo

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Elton John in the magazine