Monday, July 16, 2012

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John (1973)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Obtained via: purchase at an outdoor flea market.

When I discussed "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player," I described it as "waiting."  What it was waiting for followed right on its heels with the double album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and Elton John would spend the rest of his career until "The Lion King" trying to rebottle the lightning it spawned.  Let's break it down...


My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Average (2/4 stars)
Key Track: There's a reason Candle in the Wind charted in three different decades
Weak Link: You could go with the overblown drudgy intro Funeral for a Friend, or with Bennie and the Jets - I've never understood the appeal of that song
Sounds Like: rock excess


My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)
Key Track: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sums up the attitude and ideology of all four sides
Weak Link: Jamaica Jerk-OffSounds Like: the morning after a night of rock excess


My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: HIGHLY Recommended (3.5/4 stars)
Key Track: The Ballad of Danny Bailey - who doesn't love a good gangster story?
Weak Link: [none]
Sounds Like: a trashy pulp novel - of course this is my favorite side


My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)
Key Track: Roy Rogers is an amazing song
Weak Link: Harmony feels really out of place
Sounds Like: typical seventies nostalgia for the fifties

So, is it a double-album?  Yes.  It has the massive scope of sounds and subject matter that you would expect from a double album, but it also has something more.  "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a heavy theme album.  Bernie Taupin's lyrics often deal with the notion of migrating from a simpler lifestyle to one of urbanization or fame or what-have-you.  On this LP, almost every song explicitly deals with the cost of that migration.  Sweet Painted Lady is probably the best example.  In that track, the idea is conceited via romanticized prostitution because everything about "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is also heavily romanticized.  That makes for a singular combination.

Up next, we revisit another artist we've already discussed (and struggled with), it's "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell."

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