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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin EMI

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

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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released February 24, 2005 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released February 14, 2019 | All Evergreen Records

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Pop - Released May 2, 2019 | Black Barn Music

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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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 5, 2018 | All Evergreen Records

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Pop - Released October 5, 2018 | All Evergreen Records

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Pop - Released October 5, 2018 | All Evergreen Records

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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, 2006 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin EMI

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Pop - Released January 1, 1986 | Virgin EMI

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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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | Virgin EMI

Sandwiched between 1984's Top 20 hit Breaking Hearts and 1986's commercial disaster Leather Jackets, 1985's Ice on Fire is a forgotten Elton John effort. While it is hardly a masterpiece -- it isn't even up to the standard of such '80s efforts as Too Low for Zero -- it's still an enjoyable record, living proof of the power of professionalism. John was riding high on his comeback of the early '80s and ready to turn out another record. And that's what Ice on Fire is -- another Elton John album, in the best possible sense. Sure, it does mark the reunion of John and lyricist Bernie Taupin with producer Gus Dudgeon, who helmed John's greatest recordings, but you'd never know it from the sound of the record. Ice on Fire is pure 1985, heavy on synthetic drums and keyboards -- the kind of record where Davy Johnstone is credited with guitar, but it never sounds as if there's a guitar on the record, or any other "real" instrument, for that matter. That's not really a criticism, since John always made state-of-the-art records, so it should come as little surprise that this sounds like its time; it's sort of fun, in a way, since it instantly brings back its era. The biggest complaint is that much of the record never rises to the level of memorable. The two singles, the cold-war ballad "Nikita" and the George Michael-featured "Wrap Her Up," are the strongest items here, but even those are rather disposable. The rest of the album shares the same sparkling, canned production, and a few songs could have held their own on the Top 40, but much of it is just average Elton. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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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." © TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | Virgin EMI

The great thing about this early live record is its obscurity -- not just that this isn't one of his better-known records, but that the set list is a fanboy's dream, heavy on album tracks, covers, and the kinds of song that make Elton John's early work so individual. It's not just that there are no hits here, but it's that these six songs emphasize the spare, hard-rocking bluesy singer/songwriter that may not have written his own words, but always sang them with conviction and melodies that made them seem like his own. This may be a minor effort in his catalog, but that's part of its pleasure -- it's certainly a record from the time before Elton the superstar, as he tears through Tumbleweed Connection tracks prior to the record's release, does a phenomenal reworking of "Honky Tonk Women," hauls out B-sides like "Bad Side of the Moon," and gives a fierce, infectious performance. It's not essential for anyone but obsessives, but if you want any indication of what Elton sounded like prior to his big break, this is an excellent, even intoxicating, summary. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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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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Elton John in the magazine