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Album review

Elton John 

Classics Box Set

added: 8 Jul 2012 // release date: 16 Jul 2012 // label: Universal
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Elton John - Classics Box Set - Printable version
The Elton John of the dirgeous ‘Candle In the Wind’, friend to the ‘people’s princess’ and all around pastiche of a ‘star’ was not always thus. As Reg Dwight he was a member of Bluesology and played with – as sessioneer – many of the pop stars of the late sixties including T Rex.. Then one day he awakened, reborn, as Elton John (named for two other members of Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry) and started life as a solo artist.

He was linked with Bernie Taupin from the start and the pair were prolific, even though the sales initially were disappointing, and between 1970 - 73 they released 5 albums.
Frankly, in my opinion, this was by far the most productive period for Elton John. Maybe it was his hunger and maybe simply the new partnership with Bernie Taupin but the music had confidence as well as being inventive and original.

He drew on sources, of course he did. Rock and roll – bands like Danny And The Juniors as well as Dion & The Belmonts cross over Little Richard at times – and influence of the Brill building writers is clear but EJ had his own voice and didn’t try to sound like Neil Sedaka or Dion.

When you compare the jewels in these albums against ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ or the execrable ‘Captain Fantastic ....’ you can hear a writer enjoying his music without trying to ‘BE’ a star; for his fans at that time he was a star without trying too hard and the music shows that.

The least ‘typical’ but possibly the best album in this set is ‘Tumbleweed Connection’ with some great Americana tinged songs and a great band playing behind John as well as the deep and beautiful ‘Burn Down The Mission’

Every album here has standouts – ‘Honky Cat’ deserves to be played as a lesson to anyone trying to construct a pop song while ‘Mona Lisa & Mad Hatters’ is a beautiful song even if it seems to bear the origins of ‘C****e in The W**d’ within it. ‘Tiny Dancer’ from ‘Madman Across The Water’ is another piano led delight with Glyn Johns tugging the heartstrings with aching pedal steel.

Frankly, it is about time these albums were given the treatment – classics and so much better than what came later.


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4 stars

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