Elton John – Too Famous Now – the 70’s albums

Friday 24th April

Well dear Elton was now famous.  His big breakthrough album was a double “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” with the brilliant opening medley of ‘Funeral for a Friend, Candle in the Wind, and Bennie and the Jets’  almost the best start ever to an album.  Full of very good songs it was possibly too long.  Elton was so prolific in the seventies and eighties that quality control seemed to go out of the window sometimes.

He followed this with ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’, supposedly nicknames for Elton and his lyricist Bernie Taupin.  A very accomplished album with one of his best ballads “Someone save my life Tonight” but it came hot on the heels of Yellow Brick Road and was hard to appreciate before he released “Caribou”, which I think was his best from this period.  Again the songs were just superb, especially ‘Don’t let the Sun go down on me.’ And ‘The Bitch is Back’ though I love the closing song ‘Ticking’ about a serial killer best.  But around this time Elton, who was spending far too much time in America and far too much money on cocaine and outrageous glasses and outfits such as his Donald Duck costume, decided he wanted to be a Disco star.  He had the single “Philadelphia Freedom” and then a whole album ‘Rock of the Westies’ where the Disco nonsense won out over Rock and Roll; possibly his weakest record of this period.

He then released another double “Blue Moves” which divided opinion; some great songs but again overlong and a lot of fillers, despite classics like ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’ he seemed to be depressed and losing focus.  There must have been some artistic split because he abandoned his career-long co-writer Bernie and next released a whole album of collaborations with other writers.  And “A Single Man” is great, a lot of happier sounding songs, and the brilliant almost instrumental “Song For Guy”.  So Elton was back but he had never lost the idea that he should have been a Disco singer.  He released “Victim of Love” to close the seventies run of brilliance and this was something else completely.  Firstly no Elton songs or piano at all, just 7 soul covers and a session band which segued from one song to another, it is really just one long Disco track.  Actually I am rather fond of it….

But the Elton John story still had a long way to run.