Elton John | Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Lost Gem


They don’t make ’em like they used to. Well, at least Elton John doesn’t. In the early 70s, the bespectacled piano man could do no wrong. Aided by the irrevocable, daffy lyrics of Bernie Taupin and a crack supporting band that propelled the music along at an excitable and skillful pace, John had risen to the superstar ranks by this time. To gain even more attention, John’s stage performances grew more outrageous while his own personal antics became more belligerent. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is simply a testament to every indulgence — excessive and otherwise — that Elton John would ever toy with.

A monstrous double record is always a monumental undertaking; the yellow brick road that Elton and company skipped down mined more terrain than most artists achieve in a lifetime. With that in mind, it was ever apparent that John would never be able to match this level of pretentious originality again. For sheer artistry, Caribou wasn’t even close as a follow-up.

Recorded at Strawberry Studios in France during the spring of 1973, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road suffers slightly from the presence of lethargic fillers like “Jamaica Jerk-off, “”Dirty Little Girl” and “Your Sister Can’t Twist.” Perhaps they were meant to make the moody ballads easier to swallow — what with the bountiful offering of the title track, “Harmony,” others scattered throughout, and the ever shameless, mortally wounded “Candle In The Wind.”

The real essence of this album stands out in John’s sharpest and most fluent executions: the solid one-two punch of “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” the swing and slur of “Bennie And The Jets,” and the majesty and mystique of “Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding).” Why John consequently chose to be a second-rate Rolling Stone with a silly streak for disheveled flamboyance when he was in line to becoming a post-Beatle songsmith laureate has always baffled his earliest admirers. Since then, of course, his portfolio has found its place in history as the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has given the singer an opportunity to wind down and leave thew world’s stages with a proper “Goodbye.”

~ Shawn Perry

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