Friday, July 27, 2007

From the District Vaults: Elton John/Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Each week we'll open the Vinyl Vault to revisit a classic LP, and what better way to kick off this section than with Elton John's 1973 release "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

Janis Schacht wrote in Circus in January of '74, "After many fumbles and a great many more near-misses, Elton John is back and stronger than he's been on record in many a blue moon. This lush two record set moves from mood to mood with no apparent effort and a great sense of timing, class and style.

I've never been one of the people who found "Rocket Man" (a "Space Oddity" rip-off no matter what anybody says) or "Daniel" as fulfilling as "Your Song," "I Need You To Turn To" or "Border Song." So, as the years passed and the man became more and more flamboyant, I kept thinking his music was really suffering from all this adulation. But Elton finally has met his original potential and whether he's singing the delicate and beautiful "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" or rocking out to "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She can Rock n' Roll)" he always hits the mark rather than scoring a near miss. Bernie Taupin is pursuing the many facets of a dying Hollywood, much in the style Ray Davies did on the Kink's Everybody's In Showbiz epic, and in many songs, especially "Roy Rogers," he's sentimental and sensitive without ever slipping into that dangerous songwriter's trap of banality. "You draw to the curtains/And one thing's for certain/You're cozy in your little room/The carpet's all paid for/God bless the T.V./Let's go shoot a hole in the moon," Elton sings. When you are not forced to look at Mr. John's ridiculous get-ups it's easy to believe in him once more.

"Harmony" is a change of pace number. Haunting and subtle it has great mid-sixties three-part harmony (natch) with backup vocals compliments of Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson. The song sounds as if it might have been recorded for the first or second Bee Gee's LP, way back when they were a great band. "Harmony" may never be a single but it's a star track and a perfect end for a near perfect album."
Bennie and the Jets
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Dirty Little Girl

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