Review Summary: Elton John shows us why Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is sometimes hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time. Big hits like Bennie and the Jets and the title track mix with rockers such as Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting to make a classic album.Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
is the eighth album by legendary singer-songwriter Elton John. After obtaining his first #1 single in American with Crocodile Rock
off the album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player
, Elton John needed another big album to top it all off. What he and lyricist Bernie Taupin constructed was one of the most legendary albums in rock and roll. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reached number one in both the UK and US and also scored another US #1 hit in Bennie and the Jets. This album was also ranked 84th by Q magazine on their 100 Greatest British Albums ever, and 91st on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Along with the big hit Bennie and the Jets
, many other songs were hits and/or received constant radio airplay. What made the album so big is that it features everything that is good about Elton John on it. Epic synthy pieces, ballads, and rockers of all types that cover a large variety of subject matter are all included on this classic double album.
Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)
is a fine example of the epic work of Elton John. Showing a vast array of synthesizes and guitar work, the whole first half is an instrumental epic that takes lots of progressive influences. Midway through it is changed into a very happy sounding sad song, but yet remains one of Elton John’s finest works to date. Anyone who has doubts at Elton John are shown that he is not just all piano, and with his band constructs fine rock tracks, as the piano is not always the forefront of the music. But one of key elements in Elton John’s work is his voice and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics. Candle In The Wind
and Bennie And The Jets
are both fine slower songs in which Elton John’s voice and piano work takes center stage. The lyrics are classic, with Candle In The Wind being directly about Marilyn Monroe’s life, and Taupin even goes out on a limb with the lyrics and states Monroe’s name in the song, something rarely done in music.
The best song on the album is quite possibly the title track. Written as a goodbye from Bernie Taupin, as he would leave the band shortly after the release of the album, the orchestral arrangements in the chorus and the piano driven themes of the verses round the track in a way always leaves the listener wanting more. More piano driven tracks include This Song Has No Title
, Sweet Painted Lady
, and I’ve Seen That Movie Too
. The latter is a well written track that features no synth and is capped off by the very somber mood created through Elton John’s piano. Taupin’s lyrics also shine, relating a writer’s movie scripts to the secrets of his love life.
“So keep your auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
I’ve seen that movie too
One thing that makes Elton John unique is that he is one of few artists who specialize in piano but choose to make rock music. Not only that, but he makes it well with piano-driven uptempo songs like All The Girls Love Alice
, tracks that feature piano/synth lead lines similar to Grey Seal
and anthems such as Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting
that are very guitar based. Another key point of Elton John is uniqueness. There are weaker tracks on the album, but what keeps them for being truly forgettable is that don’t sound like anything else on the album. Your Sister Can Twist (But She Can’t Rock n’ Roll
is one of the weakest songs on the album but features a very rockabilly based sound that keeps it fresh and different from the rest of the album. He also keeps a very old style for Jamaica Jewk-Off
and even features Jamaican style backing singers in the chorus. Although they may be weaker tracks, it appears that Elton John made an effort to at least try something new rather than make a boring, lackluster track that sounds like a watered-down Tiny Dancer
Overall, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
is a very strong album that deserves its spot on any greatest albums ever list. Elton John is always able to show his diversity between songs and mix it up to keep his sound constantly. While there are some weaker tracks, that is usually to be expected most double albums. But the good easily outweighs the bad in this case which makes for a great album. I recommend this to anyone who is a rock fan and also enjoys the sound of a piano,as they will not be disappointed.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road