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


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


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


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."

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

Pop - Released January 1, 1975 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin EMI


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


Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released October 1, 2001 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Virgin EMI


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

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

Pop - Released January 1, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)


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


Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Virgin EMI

Elton John returned to the sound and aesthetic of his classic early-'70s work with 2001's Songs From the West Coast, finding critical acclaim, if not much commercial success. Not that the lack of sales greatly bothered Elton -- in many interviews, including one with Entertainment Weekly the week before Peachtree Road was released in November 2004, he claimed he was "disappointed" that it just barely went gold, but he was tired of making "uneven" records. John wasn't merely doing publicity: Peachtree Road proves that he's back to making good, solid records focused on songs, not hits, the way he did at the outset of his career. Since this is an album by a veteran, not an artist on the rise, it doesn't have the sense of discovery, or the hunger, that the early records still retain, and the production -- the first self-production by John with no collaborators -- is a little cleaner and crisper than the rich, warm sound of the late Gus Dudgeon (to whom this record is dedicated), who helmed such masterworks as Tumbleweed Connection. This means Peachtree Road is about craft, both in the writing and recording, which also means that it's a grower, with each song sounding stronger, better with each spin. While the sound of the record is bright and polished, this album makes few concessions to radio: this is certainly adult pop, but it never panders to adult contemporary radio, and the music is a little too rugged and sturdy to fit alongside the stubbornly sweet sounds of 21st century MOR. Which is precisely the point, of course: Elton has consciously returned to the reflective singer/songwriter template of the early '70s, both in his writing and production. Not that this is as lush as Elton John or country-tinged as Tumbleweed Connection -- "Answer in the Sky" recalls the high-flying disco of "Philadelphia Freedom" quite deliberately, and "They Call Her the Cat" finds a halfway point between "Honkey Cat" and "The Bitch Is Back" -- but it fits alongside those albums quite nicely because the focus is on songs, not trying to have hits. These songs may not rival his standards, but they're in the same tradition, and there's not a bad song in the bunch, resulting in a sturdy, satisfying record that proves that the comeback on Songs From the West Coast was no fluke and, hopefully, this latter-day renaissance for Elton will not be short-lived either. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released February 24, 2005 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin EMI


Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Virgin EMI


Elton John in the magazine