Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

Released October 5, 1973 this is John’s seventh studio album and widely considered his best. It has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. It went to #1 in several counties and was the #1 best-selling album that year in the US.

Jason: Hey, this is our 50th album review. We are halfway through the list.

Brad: I’m proud we got this far! Did you enjoy this one?

Jason: I usually think I don’t like Elton John but then I listen to his older stuff and i do like it. I think I just got irritated with him/his music around The Lion King

Brad: I loved Elton as a kid and through the 80’s. During the 90s I kinda forgot how great his catalog is and didn’t start appreciating him again until the early 2000s.

Jason: I liked this album a lot. I listened to it more than I had anticipated. Although I like the Princess Diana “Candle in the Wind” better than the Marilyn version

Brad: Interesting. I was going to say the opposite. I think the Marilyn one is much better.

Jason: Some of the lines/lyrics are clunky in the original. I think the new one flows better. Or maybe I’m just used to it. Speaking of is “Candle in the Wind ’97” still in the top ten in Canada?

Brad: I don’t think it is anymore but pretty sure it was for over a year in Canada. I think it was a brilliant idea to re-release “Candle” in honor of Diana. I got completely sick of that song and didn’t want to hear it for years after but I think enough time has passed and I like it again.

Candle in the Wind ’97” was in the Canadian Top 20 for three years and was at #1 for 46 consecutive weeks.

Jason: The ’97 version is certified 19x Platinum in Canada which is way (x19) more than the original. But the original is a classic.

Brad: There are so many great songs on this album. My favorites lately are “Grey Seal” , “Sweet Painted Lady” and “Roy Rogers”. Have you heard Kacey Musgraves cover of “Roy Rogers”? It is so good.

Jason: I haven’t. I’ll have to check it out. I really like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” of course. I like “Grey Seal” as well. “Jamaica Jerk-Off” I could take or leave.

Brad: I find myself irritated with “Jamaica Jerk-Off”. It sounds like a commercial jingle or a song from that terrible Jimmy Buffett musical we saw a couple years ago. 

Jason: Yeah, that musical was garbage. Maybe Elton liked Bob Marley?

Brad: Bob Marley became famous the year this album came out in fact, Elton started recording and intended to record this entire album in Jamaica but they had to leave because there was a lot of political unrest that made it somewhat unsafe for them to stay there longer.

Jason: Oh, you know what song I can not stand? See if you can guess.

Brad: “Bennie and the Jets”?

Jason: No. “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll). It sounds like it belongs in “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 

Brad: I don’t mind that song but I don’t like “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. It has that 70s sound I don’t like. Kinda reminds me of The Who.

Jason: I don’t mind that one. I know what you mean about The Who. It has a long prelude that reminds of Vangelis a bit.

Brad: Yeah, I hate that prelude. But luckily it is the first song, so I can skip it if I want to. A song that I don’t hate but don’t really need to hear anymore is “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” .

Jason: “Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday. Saturday.” That gets stuck in my head a lot. Had you ever listened to this album in its entirety before? 

Brad: Yes. I listened to this a long time ago. A friend used to play it but I think they must have played the first half because I am much more familiar with that half. Then about 6 or 7 years ago I went back and listened to all of his 70s albums. I highly recommend doing that. I finally saw Elton for the first time about a year ago and when he played the title song of this album. I had this realization that I have been totally wrong about the lyrics. It was kinda shocking how wrong I was. I would have never guessed the lyrics included “horny back toads”, “back to my plough”, “howling old owl in the woods” and “vodka and tonics”!

Jason: He sings “Horny back towz”. I really like that song because it’s sad, and romantic, and utterly relatable. When you listened to this album recently did you happen to listen to any of the covers on the Deluxe version? I kind of dig the “Bennie and the Jets” Miguel, Wale version. When a song is covered and it still stands up I think that is the mark of a great song overall.

Brad: I love that John Grant does “Sweet Painted Lady”. I think I often appreciate Elton & Bernie’s songs more once I have heard them covered by other artists. Luckily, there have been several covers albums of their work. Including two last year. I used to like that Elton/Bernie covers album from the early 90s that had Kate Bush & Wilson Phillips on it.I think it is called “Two Rooms” which I’m sure is a reference to their long distance songwriting partnership.

Jason: While we’re talking about covers The Band Perry’s cover of “Grey Seal” is really good too. I am glad you brought up Bernie Taupin, he is just as important as Elton. Bernie’s lyrics are fantastic, especially on this album. Bernie also wrote Starship’s “We Built This City” which was been voted one of the worst songs ever but I think he was just knee-deep in the hoopla at the time so we can forgive that one.

Brad: I still love “We Built This City”. It is wonderfully awful. 

Jason: Agreed! Are you going to dig out some Elton John albums and continue listening to them for a bit?

Brad: There’s no time. We still have 50 more albums to get through on this list.

Jason: You are right. At this rate we won’t finish until Labor Day 2020. So let’s grade “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

Brad: This is a tough one to grade. It is a double album with 17 songs. I love about 11 or 12 of the songs. But since I dislike several, I’m going to give it a B.

Jason: I am actually going with a B+. By the way, I didn’t mention that I have seen Elton John live a few times because in the 90s he toured with Billy Joel a lot and I went to those concerts. I think they pair really well together. In fact if anyone likes Elton’s “I’ve seen that movie too”, I recommend they then immediately listen to Billy Joel’s “Vienna” they are very similar. I like to think they were inspired by each other as contemporaries in the ’70s.

Brad: It is rare that you’ve seen a great performer more than I have. Well done.

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