There are certain artists who have now become such household names that it’s easy to forget that back in their creative heyday they were regarded as serious players, whose new albums were eagerly awaited and critically acclaimed. A couple that readily spring to mind are Rod Stewart and Elton John, the latter of whom is the subject of this book. This work covers Elton’s prime era, giving a critical overview of the thirteen studio albums and two live sets he released between 1969 and 1979, as well as the treasure trove of non-album B sides. Listening to the albums again, you really have to marvel at the run of albums from 1970’s self titled set through to 1975’s Captain Fantastic, with the possible exception of the previous year’s patchy Caribou. Stand out records for me were and still are Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water and Honky Chateau, not forgetting of course the sprawling double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It was also interesting to listen again to the Captain Fantastic set, an album that I never particularly rated at the time, but of which I have now had to revise my opinion. As usual with this series, there’s a song by song breakdown of each album, although the author does seem strangely obsessed with listing artists who produced cover versions, which doesn’t really add much to the overall story for me. Post 1975 there was a distinct sea change in the strength of material that appeared on subsequent albums, as evidenced with the rather indifferent Rock Of The Westies and Blue Moves releases, before a short lived return to form with the Thom Bell ep containing the sublime Are You Ready For Love. The decade ended on a low note though, following his split from Bernie Taupin, with the mediocre, uneven A Single Man, (most notable for the now ubiquitous Song For Guy), and the dreadful disco influenced Victim Of Love, an album best consigned to the dustbin of history.
As always, a very interesting if brief read, but anything that inspires the reader to revisit those classic albums from the early seventies must be a good thing! Indeed, I’d recommend reading all the books in this series in conjunction with relistening to the original albums.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Elton’s classic seventies records.
One thing you’ve learned
Although this book ends at 1979, it’s far from the end of the story – many albums, good, bad and indifferent, were to follow over the next four decades, each usually producing one or two hit singles in the days when that still counted for something. Certainly worth investigating are Songs From The West Coast and The Captain and The Kid.