Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
If truth be told I loved it and it was hardly off my turntable in those heady days of playing records from dawn to dusk (and beyond) but of late the classic fold-out album cover has been gathering dust. It wasn’t until I picked up a cheap CD copy that my love affair with it was re-kindled. No matter what you think of Elton these days, GYBR is a monster of an album. Comprising four sides of killer material with very little filler and covering a variety of styles that only the White Album can surpass, it remains Elton’s tour de force. If you only have one EJ album, make it this.
Generally, when you re-play old albums that once shared your life, there are two possible outcomes; utter disbelief that you once gave it house room or a warm glow of recognition and acknowledgement that you got it right. GYBR has nestled itself down into the latter category like an old pair of shoes – a bit old fashioned but fabulously comfy. What has struck me about it is the sheer energy and invention in both the music and lyric departments. The tunes and the playing are top notch and Bernie’s lyrics are some of his very best. The subject matter is as wide as the musical variety and it is difficult to remember what the 17 year-old me made of such themes as lesbianism, hookers and personal hygiene, but I did like the tunes so I probably didn’t take too much notice.
If I was going to be picky, I could’ve done without ‘Jamaica Jerk Off’ and possibly a couple of the cuts on the final side and to later cannibalise Bernie’s heart-felt peon to Marilyn Monroe in ‘Candle in the Wind’ for you-know-who is a hanging offence but the thing about all double albums is that they tend to benefit from being a sprawling mass, an outpouring of artistic endeavour so you have to take them or leave them. Personally, I’d take this one every time.
So what did happen to Elton? I remember buying ‘Captain Fantastic’ and a bit later, ‘Too Low for Zero’ but neither of these appears to be in my collection any more, so GYBR it is then. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer album.