When describing the legacy of Elton John, where does one begin? Along with the Beatles, he was probably my favorite artist when I was growing up. I listened to what my mom and dad did, and we had four or five Elton John records that I would play in the basement all the time. For some reason, his blend of great piano skills, blend of musical styles, and delivery of Bernie Taupin's lyrics appeal to everyone, whether they're five or fifty-five. Though his popularity has waned slightly over the last few years, he received much critical acclaim with his recent album, Peachtree Road
But before that album, Elton John was the king of piano pop-rock. Of course, he is famous for having a career that spans well over thirty; now edging ever closer to forty years. Inspiring such artists as Billy Joel and Ben Folds, his legacy in his area remains to this day unparalleled. He even had three greatest hits albums before this one was released. However, the broad scope of this dual-disc collection sets it apart as a must-have for anyone who is already a fan or just getting into Elton John.
What sets this apart from the other hits collections is the fact that it contains all of his major hits from 1970 until 2002. Where before you needed several albums to contain everything, now all of the essentials are contained on two CD's.
A breif introduction for those not familiar with Elton John's sound -- he blends many styles of fluid piano playing, including soft ballads and hard rockers, with fluid pop hoks and excellent lyrics provided by co-writer, Bernie Taupin. His stuff is fairly basic structurally, but he is most definitely gifted as a singer and a piano player. While definitely poppy sounding, he has a universal appeal that matches such mega-artists like The Beatles and Michael Jackson.
The first disc is from EJ's golden 1970's age. It covers the almost incomprehensible string of seventeen singles from 1970's Your Song
, all the way to Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
, released in 1977. Let that sink in -- That's seventeen major singles in seven years. Seventeen straight tracks that are some of the strongest material ever recorded in pop music. This disc is enough to purchase the album for, as it contains no weak tracks on it (okay, maybe Island Girl
is fairly weak, but to abridge Meat Loaf, 16 out of 17 ain't bad). I would make a list of recommended tracks from this disc, but you may as well look at the track-listing up above.
The second disc is from the slower (albiet, still good) period during the '80's and '90's. While I don't find this half of the album as strong as the first, it still provides a plethora of good material to listen to. A lot of the raw edge in classics like Your Song
is missing, but there are still some monster songs on this half. Featured are the ubiquitous songs from The Lion King
, Can You Feel the Love Tonight
and Circle of Life
. There are other lesser-known gems that find their way on here, as well, like 2002's This Train Don't Stop There Anymore
As with any album, there are weaknesses. First off, it is a greatest hits collection, which means that most fans have heard the songs featured on here before. Also, though it shows the progress of Elton John's career very well, I feel that arranging the songs more along the lines of a set-list than chronological order would have given the album a slightly better sound. However, I'm being nitpicky when I complain about these things.
In addition to the music, this collection provides a very detailed booklet that documents the history of Elton's career very well. I highly suggest that you give it a read-through if you pick up this album.
Also worth searching for is a version that has a bonus live disc featuring the second Candle In the Wind
song and other rarities sung with some other guest artists. The recordings with George Michael, Luciano Pavarotti, and Alessandro Safina are pretty cool to listen to. I especially like Live Like Horses
and the way Pavarotti's opera-esque voice blends fluidly with Elton's piano and vocal work.
For being a greatest hits album, this is probably one of the best offerings I've seen. It spans almost the entire career of one of the 20th century's most important performers, and rarely disappoints. It contains a whopping thirty-four tracks, and for the overall quality of them, $17.00 on Amazon is well worth the price you pay. If you ever wanted to get into Elton John and never knew where to start, this is most definitely the place to do it. I did some thinking, and while I personally think this is a 5-star album, it is nothing earth-shattering. It's a great greatest hits collection, but I think it's more around a 4-star album overall.
Great overall view of a great musician.
Very few weak tracks throughout all thirty-four of them.
Extremely informative booklet.
If you're a fan, you've heard all the songs before.
All of Disc One
I'm Still Standing
I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Can You Feel the Love Tonight
This Train Don't Stop There Anymore
Live Like Horses
I hope you guys appreciate this review; thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.
Formatting will be fixed if there are problems.