Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #91 Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.

At number 91 is another double album.  It’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John. I’m pretty sure that my eldest brother owned this, but I’ve never heard it before. We all know that Elton has produced some outstanding music over the years and it’s even more impressive to recognise that this album, from 1973 was his seventh in 4 years.

As with most of his music, Elton wrote the songs with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics very quickly, with nearly all songs completed in just 3 days! The recording lasted only two weeks at Château d’Hérouville in France.

The first disc opens with the 11 minute epic Funeral for a friend/Love lies bleeding which has lots of styles and doesn’t quite settle but is very good all the same.  The next track is the classic Candle in the wind. Given the songs’ history, it’s easy to overlook the quality and it’s worth listening to again.

The hits continue with the brilliant Bennie and the Jets and the title track which is outstanding, apart from one line that I always felt never quite worked: “Back to the howling old owl in the woods”.  But that’s been overly picky.

The next couple of tracks don’t do anything for me, especially Jamaica jerk-off that is crying out to be a b-side.  However, I’ve seen that movie too is an impressive song with some great guitar and orchestration. The title was used in a song by another artist – one point if you know the song and artist.

There is a bit of filler on here, I’ll be honest, but when you get to a song like Saturday night’s alright for fighting, all is forgiven. This is a sublime rocker with killer riffs and production!

The album is an easy listen, despite a couple of forgettable songs. I sometimes wonder with double albums how much better they could have been as a single album?  Overall, it does work as a long collection of song and the production is lush throughout, the musicians highly accomplished and don’t miss the perfect background vocals.

My rating: 7/10

Standout tracks: Saturday night’s alright for fighting, Candle in the wind, Bennie and the Jets

Listen to the album via Spotify here.

See the Top 100 here.

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This entry was posted on November 13, 2013 by in music and tagged , , .

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