Elton John “Greatest Hits” (1974)

    When creating my list of albums, whenever I had an artist like Elton John, who had multiple albums included on the list already, my default was to not include any “Greatest Hits” compilations, unless one of my criteria for selection forced the inclusion.  Today we have just that, as the first of many “Greatest Hits” releases for Elton John, came out in late 1974, and was actually the #1 selling album of 1975.  It may seem a bit redundant, as many of these tracks were either on “Honky Chateau” or “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which we covered already, but the mix of songs is still so good, and there were enough new inclusions, to make it a great listening experience once again.

     To start with, of the ten songs on the album, five were repeats.  “Honky Cat”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Rocket Man” and “Bennie and the Jets” are just five stellar songs that never get old, and collectively represent the diversity and greatness of Elton’s classic run in the early 1970s.  That said, we do have five other songs to examine, three of which I love as much as the five above.  There is one I’m not quite as crazy about, and one I just don’t really care for that much.  Let’s dig in…

     The opener is “Your Song”, from his second album, and his first big hit.  I view this song in the same light as “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.  Not only is it autobiographical, it is defining for Elton as a songwriter and performer who makes his way in life with music as his language and currency.  It is a timeless ballad and a true classic.  I also love the next song, “Daniel”, maybe just a little bit less than “Your Song”, but it is another song of affection for those who have a brother they love.  I remember my friend John in high school and college, fondly referring to this song in reference for how much he cared about and missed his older brothers.  The third “new” classic on this collection is “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, from his recently released album “Caribou” in 1974.  This song is in the same spirit and style as “Rocket Man” or “Goodbye Yellow Big Road”, all of which could be considered ballads, but big, dramatic ballads that reflect the brilliance of Elton John and Bernie Taupin as writers.  Whenever I hear this song, I am always reminded of the duet performance from Elton and George Michael, which was a little over the top, but two amazing singers in one room.

     The last song on the album is “Crocodile Rock”.  This song is much more of a silly pop song, and while it is a very good silly pop song, it is a bit worn down and even Elton has said that when his touring days finally end, this is the one song he will be glad to never play again.  So… let’s talk about the one remaining the song, “The Border Song”.  It is a brooding, overwrought ballad that has never appealed to me at all, probably one of my least favorite Elton John songs.  I don’t know who was picking songs for this album, but how this song was included, and “Tiny Dancer” and/or “Take Me to the Pilot” were left off, will never make any sense to me… at all.

     Oh well, this is Elton John’s “Greatest Hits”, not some anonymous music fan’s collection of Elton’s “Greatest Hits”.  I’m just saying…

Published by tacopepper

A music fan...

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