The seventies are almost always associated with good old-fashioned rock n’ roll. Justifiable, since some of the best rock music of all time came out of that decade. Sure, there was plenty of disco and love ballads to go around, but rock ruled the roost. Despite that genre being so dominant though, today’s featured artist danced to the beat of his own drummer and has been making music over six decades.
Reginald Dwight was born in England back in 1947. He grew up in a very restrictive household and his father was a career Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. No one could have ever predicted a young boy that grew up with his grandparents and went to a strict grammar school until he was 17 years old would grow up to be multi-platinum selling artist Elton John. He has said his desire to create the character and have wild stage costumes and theatrics was born from his upbringing. He was influenced into music from hearing Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and the Comets back in the mid-1950s. That combination spawned a career in music almost unparalleled by anyone else in history.
It’s hard to focus on any specific album by Elton John, as they tend to vary so much in styles, but today we’re looking at Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It was released in October of 1973 and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. This album was instantly surrounded by critical acclaim and topped the charts in both the UK and the U.S. Elton worked with songwriter Bernie Taupin, who wrote the album lyrics entirely within two and half weeks, with Elton composing the music in roughly three days while staying at the Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. After recording difficulties on site, they ended up recording the album in two weeks in France, where Elton had recorded two previous records.
I think for me, this is an easy listen, and it’s simple to tell why it’s considered his best and most popular album. It’s ranked No. 91 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest of all time and has made various other lists. You could argue this album, and not just Elton John, almost created the genre of “glam rock”. If nothing else, it put the style on the map. Music like this made lavish performances part of the regular culture and more widely accepted even by some of those die-hard rock fans from the 70s.
I’m not sure there are many folks out there who haven’t already heard this album, or at least a few tracks off it. The title track still sees radio play today, as well as ‘Bennie and the Jets’. I’m not sure I detect much of a theme from my few listens recently, other than it listens like a movie. It’s like a nostalgic reflection of the times and told in the signature theatrical Elton John style.
This is priced out .99 cents higher than my normal albums, but even at $5.99—it’s worth the price of admission.