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Thread: Collecting Essential Elton John Recordings

  1. #26
    Member MrXindeed's Avatar
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    Any of his 70's stuff is good.
    I'd start with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, you'll know a lot of the songs on there already, and you'll find a few hidden gems there too (Grey Seal, Ballad of Danny Baily, etc.).
    If you want a good all around hits collection, his new CD Diamonds has them all.
    http://amzn.com/B075VWL9C1
    http://amzn.com/B073XG281W

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Library Jon View Post
    I noticed that there is a 3 disc compilation called "Diamonds" which was released during November 2017 that seems to have all the hits on it. So maybe I should start with that and a few of the early 70s albums?



    Library Jon
    If you are looking for a compilation you might check out Elton's box set that was released in 1990 called "To Be Continued". It is a 4 CD box set that covers his career up to that time and includes all the hits, his most popular album tracks, and a few rarities. Not sure how easy it is to find these days, but it was a great collection and covered a lot of ground up to 1990.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post



    Funeral yes, but Love lies Bleeding, I don't see much (if any) prog
    It's one track, and it's the track that most would consider the most "proggy" or prog related. Just as Suppers Ready is one track, with multiple separate bits put together. Just like your posts are a single post, even though they almost always include multiple responses.

  4. #29
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrXindeed View Post
    Any of his 70's stuff is good.
    I'd start with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, you'll know a lot of the songs on there already, and you'll find a few hidden gems there too (Grey Seal, Ballad of Danny Baily, etc.).
    If you want a good all around hits collection, his new CD Diamonds has them all.
    http://amzn.com/B075VWL9C1
    http://amzn.com/B073XG281W
    No thanks... even the 70's disc 1 is not what I'l looking for... And I care not for the post 70's stuff... I mean don't care at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by DocProgger View Post
    It's one track, and it's the track that most would consider the most "proggy" or prog related. Just as Suppers Ready is one track, with multiple separate bits put together. Just like your posts are a single post, even though they almost always include multiple responses.
    Come on... they just linked the two together by not putting a silent space between them two song... they've got nothing in common... and AFAIK, the lyrics of the second song don't even make a mention or give a wink to the first track's title.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from heroin-addicts to crazy ones

  5. #30
    Elton is really a guy who you have to appreciate a wider variety of music than just "prog" Funeral/Love Lies bleeding was Elton tipping his hat to the prog community, showing that he gets it. I heard an interview where he talked about how with that track he wanted to be counted "in" as a pro-prog kind of musican. Burn down the mission is also a great proggy track. Some of the "filler" on Honkey Chateau are complex enough to keep a prog guy interested. But all his albums are extremely "musical" meaning its not just simple chords or blues, his piano playing is very broad, and consistently interesting to many kinds of musicians. I was in a 9 piece dixieland/funk/Rock band back when Caribou came out with all those horns (from as I recall - the horn section of Tower of Power) and we played almost every song on that album because it was pure musicality from front to back - not everyone approves of horns in their music, but man, that T.O.P. horn section was a killin' machine! IMO Elton John is one of the best at being just overall "musical". I'm not enthralled by his voice, but his musicianship is just awesome. I hear he is also quite a wonderful person. Funeral/LoveLies is probably in my top 5 all time favorite songs.
    I got nothin'

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  6. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post



    Come on... they just linked the two together by not putting a silent space between them two song... they've got nothing in common... and AFAIK, the lyrics of the second song don't even make a mention or give a wink to the first track's title.
    Man, you'll argue about anything. Under that logic, we'll have to multiply all your posts by at least 3 to get a proper post count.

  7. #32
    I'll add to the consensus. The golden age is from album number two (self-titled) through the mid-70s. I'm not sure there's any studio album without what I consider a clunker or two, but everything through Blue Moves has enough fantastic moments to be worth checking out. Sure it's time-consuming, but you're really missing out if you don't dig through it all to find the (relative) deep-cut gems like "Madman," "Come Down in Time," "Can I Put You On," "Harmony"....

    You can hardly go wrong with anything from that period, but my fav would be 17-11-70. Live, small band, no frills, pure awesomeness from start to finish.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Come on... they just linked the two together by not putting a silent space between them two song... they've got nothing in common...
    So what? The same is true of countless things--the Dead's "China/Rider" medley, side two of Abbey Road, any number of Yes pieces etc. Point is, they work in sequence and simply sound great together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yodelgoat View Post
    Funeral/Love Lies bleeding was Elton tipping his hat to the prog community, showing that he gets it. ... Elton John is one of the best at being just overall "musical". I'm not enthralled by his voice, but his musicianship is just awesome.
    Agreed. Onstage theatricality, musical sophistication, superb skill as a player/soloist, a full-fledged concept album or two, multi-part pieces that don't have to follow verse/chorus structure--there's plenty for a proghead to admire, but (as with any music, really) anyone just looking for prog qualities is missing the point.

  8. #33
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral View Post
    So what? The same is true of countless things--the Dead's "China/Rider" medley, side two of Abbey Road, any number of Yes pieces etc. Point is, they work in sequence and simply sound great together.
    So what?? Well not much... just that I've heard many time FFAF alone many times played over the radio without LLB. I've even heard a few time LLB without FFAF.

    Not to read much more than that.
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  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    N

    Come on... they just linked the two together by not putting a silent space between them two song... they've got nothing in common... and AFAIK, the lyrics of the second song don't even make a mention or give a wink to the first track's title.
    Not completely true. Funeral For A Friend ends, and Love Lies Bleeding begins, on the same chord. I've forgotten what it is, but i saw an interview where he said originally they were two separate pieces of music and were going to be presented as such, until he realized that the last chord of the one could also be the first chord of the other.

    And actually, that's the exact same logic that's used in a lot of prog rock. Steve Howe said once that a lot of times with Yes, a lot of their things were the result of taking different musical ideas the various band members had and "hooking them together, tentatively". He said that sometimes the thought would be "If I change the tempo of this, or the key of that, I can insert into this other thing". I suspect that's how things worked with at least Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull, Magma, and a lot of other bands, too.

  10. #35
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    i'm currently condensing my CD collection
    and tossed all my Elton John CD's.
    i did save my DVD of his last farewell tour.

  11. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by MrXindeed View Post
    If you want a good all around hits collection, his new CD Diamonds has them all.
    Frankly, you’re probably better off with the two MCA Greatest Hits compilations. Sure, they stick to the 70s stuff, but the 80s stuff (even the hits) was kind of a rocky road, and his 90s output was dire. The 2002 Greatest Hits is a little more comprehensive, but you’re stuck with that heinous 90s stuff that you’ll never listen to. Sure, it ends well with his current single, “This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” but as with all of the above, it lacks “Mama Can’t Buy You Love,” a real gem. That’s not on Diamonds either, and it’s a crime that such a great song should be so hard to get on CD. The only one I can think of is the woefully out of print Greatest Hits Vol. III
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  12. #37
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    Caribou (1974): A step down after GBYBR, but contains one of my all-time favorite EJ tracks “Ticking”
    YES! Love that track. Terrific storytelling through lyrics.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    Blue Moves (1976): Another double album, but not nearly as good as GBYBR. A lot of filler on this one.
    I really like Blue Moves. A lot of variety on that one, and the good stuff is very good IMO.
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  13. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    I really like Blue Moves. A lot of variety on that one, and the good stuff is very good IMO.
    I have a real fondness for Side 1, which feels like a rock & roll piano concerto. Quality really slips after that, though.
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    YES! Love that track. Terrific storytelling through lyrics.



    I really like Blue Moves. A lot of variety on that one, and the good stuff is very good IMO.
    I guess I was comparing it to GBYBR. There is some very good stuff on Blue Moves, but overall, for a double album, I don't think it comes close to GBYBR.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I have a real fondness for Side 1, which feels like a rock & roll piano concerto. Quality really slips after that, though.
    Side one is the strongest of the four, no doubt. But I kind of like the mixed-bag feel of the rest of it: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Out Of The Blue, The Wide-Eyed And Laughing... even Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series!

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    I guess I was comparing it to GBYBR. There is some very good stuff on Blue Moves, but overall, for a double album, I don't think it comes close to GBYBR.
    No, it definitely doesn't, I agree. I just really like it. Unfortunately after this one there is a sharp drop off in quality. In fact, when I recently made a five-hour EJ playlist from all my CDs, there is nothing from the following album (A Single Man) and only a handful of tracks from the 80s (some of which are excellent, but the gems were few and far between compared to the 70s albums). So I guess I kind of see Blue Moves as the last of the 'great' period.

    I should add that there are latter-day albums that I've never even heard - like that Captain Fantastic sequel or the surrounding albums. He really lost me in the 90s and beyond. Anything worth checking out for a hardcore 70s EJ fan like me?
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  16. #41
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    ^Songs From The West Coast has songs I like as much as any he made- 'The Emperor's New Clothes', 'The Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes', 'I Want Love', 'American Triangle' and 'This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore'. If only one album, try that one. (Actually the mid 90s Made In England is also a strong effort, although I can't stand the title track which was a single. Much of the rest of the album isn't like that.)

    Peachtree Road really feels like two separate albums bolted together to me, a 'back to the roots' one and a blander Adult Contemporary one. The two don't gel. The Captain And The Kid is a more coherent album but musically it's not really that similar to the 'original', so don't be fooled by the title. It's a fairly musically humble 'singer songwriter' record really, and a perfectly good one on that level, but the 'original' Captain Fantastic... was much more sumptuous. (The link was in the 'concept', which told the Elton John/Bernie Taupin story since 1975. Apparently.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Frankly, you’re probably better off with the two MCA Greatest Hits compilations. Sure, they stick to the 70s stuff, but the 80s stuff (even the hits) was kind of a rocky road, and his 90s output was dire. The 2002 Greatest Hits is a little more comprehensive, but you’re stuck with that heinous 90s stuff that you’ll never listen to. Sure, it ends well with his current single, “This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” but as with all of the above, it lacks “Mama Can’t Buy You Love,” a real gem. That’s not on Diamonds either, and it’s a crime that such a great song should be so hard to get on CD. The only one I can think of is the woefully out of print Greatest Hits Vol. III
    The daftest thing with the new one is that it only included the George Michael version of 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me'. What a dumb thing to do.

    There simply hasn't been a wholly satisfying Elton collection, with all the big hits. Which, given the amount of collections, is absolutely ridiculous.
    Last edited by JJ88; 02-04-2018 at 08:21 AM.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    ^Songs From The West Coast has songs I like as much as any he made- 'The Emperor's New Clothes', 'The Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes', 'I Want Love', 'American Triangle' and 'This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore'. If only one album, try that one. (Actually the mid 90s Made In England is also a strong effort, although I can't stand the title track which was a single. Much of the rest of the album isn't like that.)

    Peachtree Road really feels like two separate albums bolted together to me, a 'back to the roots' one and a blander Adult Contemporary one. The two don't gel. The Captain And The Kid is a more coherent album but musically it's not really that similar to the 'original', so don't be fooled by the title. It's a fairly musically humble 'singer songwriter' record really, and a perfectly good one on that level, but the 'original' Captain Fantastic... was much more sumptuous. (The link was in the 'concept', which told the Elton John/Bernie Taupin story since 1975. Apparently.)
    Great info, thanks... will check some of it out! (I'm in the mood after this thread.)
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  18. #43
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    As for Blue Moves, it is an interesting one. Elton threw an on-stage strop (one of many, bless him!) around this time and exclaimed he had 'quit' playing live. And the album itself has a very doom-laden, end-of-an-era atmosphere as well (with the exception of the cathartic 'Bite Your Lip' finale). You can sort of see why Taupin took a back seat for a short period, however their last 70s release was not this album but the flop single 'Ego'. That track is again very cynical and not an obvious choice of single, although it's very good.

    I have never felt Gary Osborne's rather prosaic, matter-of-fact lyricism was a good fit for Elton's music. 1978's A Single Man was all Osborne but with the 1980-2 albums, the highlights are almost all the songs he wrote with others- Taupin contributed a few things but also Tom Robinson was a strong collaborator on a few songs.

    There was also the Thom Bell Sessions project, which was apparently less than a smooth experience professionally but musically it was, and 20 odd years later 'Are You Ready For Love' was a UK Number 1. (I have never felt brave enough for the 'disco album' Victim Of Love.)
    Last edited by JJ88; 02-04-2018 at 08:46 AM.

  19. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    I don't know much about the compilation/hits albums, but if there is one with Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny) on it, would be worth seeking out. It's one of his tracks that hits me the hardest. Alternately, you could get the 1982 album it appeared on (Jump Up), but I don't take responsibility for the rest of the tracks on that one.
    I saw Elton at the 4th of July Fair under the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi in 1982--free concert! Massive crowd, every square inch of the grounds under the Arch were jam packed, huge event. Elton was half the age he is now, probably at peak vocal abilities, and among the songs he played was Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny). Still a fairly new tune, and close enough to Lennon's assassination that it was pretty emotional. Awesome moment and quite an experience.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    S Anything worth checking out for a hardcore 70s EJ fan like me?
    You might want to check out my post #16 where I list all the albums that I have, but I would say the best of his latter day albums (that I have heard) would be "Songs From The West Coast". I really like "The Union" too. He did the album with Leon Russel, but it is mostly Elton. "The Captain And The Kid" and "Too Low For Zero" both have their moments too.

  21. #46
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    Jump Up! sums up the confusion of this period, too many directions. 'Empty Garden' is an obvious masterpiece, but sadly not one I can listen to that often (I don't think Elton plays it live too often either). There's a few other good songs on it like the early collaboration with Tim Rice, 'Legal Boys'. The hit 'Blue Eyes' is lyrically dreary, even forgettable (Gary Osborne again) but musically it's classy and dignified- also the only UK hit of this early 80s period. A real turkey from Taupin's pen in 'I Am A Robot'. Pete Townshend makes a non-descript cameo on 'Ball And Chain'.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    I guess I was comparing it to GBYBR. There is some very good stuff on Blue Moves, but overall, for a double album, I don't think it comes close to GBYBR.
    Man, if you’re going to compare it to GYBR, obviously you’re going to be disappointed!

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    The daftest thing with the new one is that it only included the George Michael version of 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me'. What a dumb thing to do.
    I have never enjoyed that song in any version. It just seems to meander without going much of anywhere. I have never understood its appeal. As for George Michael, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

    There simply hasn't been a wholly satisfying Elton collection, with all the big hits. Which, given the amount of collections, is absolutely ridiculous.
    Can’t disagree with that statement!

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    I have never felt Gary Osborne's rather prosaic, matter-of-fact lyricism was a good fit for Elton's music. 1978's A Single Man was all Osborne but with the 1980-2 albums, the highlights are almost all the songs he wrote with others- Taupin contributed a few things but also Tom Robinson was a strong collaborator on a few songs.
    I have still yet to hear the Vigrass and Osborne album, Queues, but I liked the lyrics he wrote for Kiki Dee (“Sweet Creation,” “Into Eternity” and the English translation of Véronique Sanson’s “Amoureuse”). And I do have a soft spot for “Little Jeannie,” but the lyrics are atrocious!

    “Sartorial Eloquence” is, for me, the best Tom Robinson collab. I’m also fond of “Give Me Love,” which he wrote with Judie Tzuke.

    There was also the Thom Bell Sessions project, which was apparently less than a smooth experience professionally but musically it was, and 20 odd years later 'Are You Ready For Love' was a UK Number 1. (I have never felt brave enough for the 'disco album' Victim Of Love.)
    It’s a pity Elton wasn’t together enough to make a whole album with Thom Bell, because that EP is a five-star disc for sure. You really don’t need to be curious about Victim of Love; it’s not even “funny-bad” like the Ethel Merman Disco Album.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    Jump Up! sums up the confusion of this period, too many directions. 'Empty Garden' is an obvious masterpiece, but sadly not one I can listen to that often (I don't think Elton plays it live too often either). There's a few other good songs on it like the early collaboration with Tim Rice, 'Legal Boys'. The hit 'Blue Eyes' is lyrically dreary, even forgettable (Gary Osborne again) but musically it's classy and dignified- also the only UK hit of this early 80s period. A real turkey from Taupin's pen in 'I Am A Robot'. Pete Townshend makes a non-descript cameo on 'Ball And Chain'.
    I always thought “Blue Eyes” was one of his worst hits, and don’t understand why it was such a smash. “Empty Garden,” on the other hand, is a grade A tear-jerker.
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  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Library Jon View Post
    I guess that everyone here is well aware that Elton John Is embarking on a farewell tour this fall 2018. A friend and I got tickets to one of the Philadelphia shows this morning. I do know all the hits from his career by listening to the radio all of my life. However, he was always someone that I quite liked that I just never bought his albums. So here is my question. What is essential? Best albums? Worst albums? Any stories to tell? I will probably buy several of his CDs.


    Library Jon
    As expected, you've been recommended a few of Elt's key 70s albums, but I'd like to suggest that there are brilliant albums after his classic 1970-76 run, too.

    You should hear Too Low For Zero, The Captain & The Kid, Sleeping With The Past, 21 at 33 and The Fox. His most recent, Wonderful Crazy Night, isn't too shabby either.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    Here are the Elton John albums that I own:

    Elton John (1970): This was actually his 2nd album, although a lot of people think it is his first. Solid for the most part.

    Tumbleweed Connection (1970): Not really any hits on this one, but a lot of good songs.

    Madman Across The Water (1971): Worth it for the title track alone. Several other great tracks too.

    Honkey Chateau (1972): Inconsistent with a few great tracks.

    Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (1973): Another inconsistent album with a few great tracks.

    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973): Probably his all-time best IMO. Double album that has very little filler.

    Caribou (1974): A step down after GBYBR, but contains one of my all-time favorite EJ tracks “Ticking”

    Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975): Autobiographical album and one of his best.

    Rock Of The Westies (1975): Probably Elton’s hardest rocking album, but only some of it works to my ears. This is where the slide in quality started to happen IMO.

    Blue Moves (1976): Another double album, but not nearly as good as GBYBR. A lot of filler on this one.

    Too Low For Zero (1983): After putting out some real crap in the late 70’s and early 80’s this one was a bit of a comeback form a quality perspective.

    Reg Strikes Back (1988): Elton dropped all the frills, freaky glasses and costumes and tried to go back to basics. This album has grown on me over the years. It is poppy, but pretty good.

    Songs From The West Coast (2001): After another string of mediocre albums this one was a nice return to form.

    Peachtree Road (2004): Not nearly as good as Songs From The West Coast, but a decent effort.

    The Captain And The Kid (2006): Sequel to Captain Fantastic. Not quite as good the first one, but a good effort.

    The Union (2010): Album done with Leon Russel and a very good one.
    For the most part, I agree with this!
    We are the grandchildren of apes, not angels
    But only we are gifted with the eyes to see
    On days without FEAR, when our heads are clear
    That angels, we could be
    (Marillion 2016)

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Looking at that RYM list made me realize how much of EJ's music I know absolutely nothing about. Yes, I can sing along to all the big hits; but after that... nada...

    So is there any prog buried in there somewhere?
    Maybe not Prog (that I know of), but the album Madman Across the Water seems to me similar to Bowie albums like Hunky Dory and Space Odyssey - unrushed, with good textures and expressiveness and vocals.

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