on 11 January 2004
Yet another gem from the man himself: Elton John. Caribou was the first album to be recorded in Caribou Ranch, Colorado hence the title. The albums only hit and very fitting opening number, 'The Bitch is Back' is one of Eltons greatest hits. The sublime 'Pinky' is a song of true emotion as is 'I have seen the saucers' a delightful and intelligently written mid-tempo ballad with unusual sounds used to create t a sense of another world. The rest of the tracks on this album are notable in their right but by far the albums best track is the curious 'Solar Prestige a Gammon' a song which i have on constant loop. The nonsense lyrics give a depth of feeling beyond that which can be expressed in words and the humourous tale of the birth of the song, as told in the album sleeve, makes you love this song even more.
Although Caribou suffered to some extent from being the follow-up to Goodbye yellow brick road (how could he follow that?), it's long been an album that I liked and this re-issue strengthens it with the addition of four bonus tracks, two of which were originally released as the A-sides of singles.
Bernie Taupin has admitted that he sometimes writes lyrics that don't necessarily make sense but otherwise sound good, so if you occasionally don't understand them, perhaps you're not meant to. Somnetimes the lyrics read as if they ought to make sense and it's just a case of figuring out what they mean. Whatever, Elton almost invariably manages to set great music to Bernie's lyrics, whether they make sense or not, and so it proves with this album and its bonus tracks.
Altogether, there are four of Elton's classics here beginning with The bitch is back. It was never one of my favorite Elton songs partly because I've never quite understood the lyrics, but the music is great and Dusty Springfield is one of the four backing singers, so it's a great track with which to open the album. To my ears, the outstanding track here is Don't let the sun go down on me, a song in which both the lyrics and the music are brilliant. Here, Toni Tennille and two members of the Beach BNoys were among the four backing singers. Pinball wizard (originally by the Who) was featured in the rock opera Tommy and was originally offered to Rod Stewart (perhaps in part because he had a history bof hits with cover versions) but Rod turned down the chance and eventually the chance came Elton's way. Unlike Rod, Elton rarely records cover versions (if you exclude those that he recorded before he became famous) but he made a superb job of Pinball wizard. The fourth Elton classic here is his Christmas song, Step into Christmas. Generally, I prefer Christmas songs to be kept separate from other music but I don't mind this one being added here, especially as they made it the final track. It is therefore easy to stop the CD early to avoid hearing it at the wrong time of year. Of course, anybody who is interested in Christmas music can find the song easily on a Christmas compilation.
Apart from those four famous songs, there are ten other songs here. Of these, Solar prestige a gammon contains lyrics that definitely do not make sense; I think Bernie may have written them deliberately to see what response the critics would give. There are much better songs here, most notably Grimsby (which paints a rosier picture of the town than you're likely to find elsewhere outside of a tourist guide) and Dixie Lady (a country-flavored song about a riverboat). Indeed, there are plenty of good songs on this album.
While this is not regarded by most people as one of Elton's essential original albums, it remains one of my favorites. Those four bonus tracks furher enhance it.
on 25 May 2003
Caribou is simply one of Elton's greatest albums. Like all of his best albums, it has a bulk of fine tracks, one or two classics and a disappointment. In this case, the disappointment is rather aptly named 'Stinker', and the classics are 'Don't let the sun go down on me', 'Ticking' and 'The Bitch is back'. 'Ticking' is his trademark leviathan masterpiece; a seven minute epic, one of Taupin's most melancholy lyrics. It reminds me of a cross between 'The Ballad of Danny Bailey' and 'Funeral for a Friend' on GYBR.
There are several frankly weird tracks, both brilliant and bizarre, such as 'I've seen the Saucers', 'Solar prestige a gammon' (don't ask) and 'You're so Static.' 'Grimsby' is a gem, if only for its blatant misrepresentation of the eponymous midlands town.
It has the unfortunate situation of being immediately after GYBR, which is largely responsible for its bad reputation. However, it deserves reconsideration, for it has aged surprisingly well, and is definately better than Captain Fantastic which is as overrated as this is underrated.
on 25 March 2013
Very under-rated entry in the Elton and Bernie catalogue. Although there were moments of indulgence and excess here, they didn't dilute the overall quality of the album nearly as much as with the overstretched and flawed masterpiece that preceded it. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a towering achievement but there is a nagging feel of the kitchen sink and Uncle Tom Cobbly about it. Caribou has a much smaller palette but all the songs are very strong; many of them equal the quality of the pair's finest work, and the dramatic highlight, 'Don't Let The Sun...' is arguably their greatest commercial release. Many of Elton and Bernie's best songs are less well known, tucked away among the more familiar, and several of them are here on Caribou. Its main weakness is perhaps the lack of a coherent, unifying theme and a sense that things were rushed; certainly the album cover was a ghastly mistake, but I also miss the acoustic feel of Elton's earlier work. By the time of this release he was a superstar and the music had moved on. While still writing fantastic songs and lyrics; the production, instrumentation, and vocal delivery had changed; commercial stardust had been sprinkled over it, and the simple and effortless artistry beneath had become slightly obscured. All that said, this really is one of their best works; it has drama, emotion, fun, intelligence, silliness, seriousness and grit, probably all knocked off in a couple of weeks between tours. Just a shame about that cover.
After the global success of GYBR, the John/Taupin juggernaut could have gone anywhere. What they chose to do might seem to some a bizarre and myopic change of direction, creating an album of songs from the GYBR sessions and a few hair-raising experiments, possibly the result, critics suggested, of launching the follow-up rather too quickly at the insistence of DJM.
Luckily, the presence of two gold-plated authentic classics saves Caribou from being consigned to the honorable failures of history: one is universally known and recorded by every cabaret artiste in the book, the other largely confined a secret known only to collectors and completists. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me is an elegy, a prayer for more time and life - which in the light of Elt's 30+ year career since this album was released, you can only assume he was granted.
Ticking is the gem hidden in the depths of Caribou, the story of a boy who for reasons unstated holds to hostage a group of people in a reastaurant ("crazy boy you'll only wind up with strange notions in your head"), killing some along the way with "tearful eyes" before falling foul of the "vengeance of the law." Powerful stuff, with a moving melody adding empathy to Taupin's finely-judged lyric. This track deserves far wider publicity and a place in Elton's hall of fame.
on 23 June 2000
Over the years 'Caribou' (named for the studio where it was recorded, in Colorado) has often been denigrated by critics as a poor follow-up to the immensely successful double album 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', which represented Elton at his peak of popularity. Furthermore, it happened to be followed by the very successful 'Captain Fantastic' album, and was therefore seen as a weak album between two strong ones. Certainly, it was not recorded in the best of circumstances, with an unfamiliar studio, very limited time, and Elton and his band tired from touring. Apparently what turned out to be the album's most memorable track, 'Don't let the sun go down on me' was almost junked due to Elton apparently hating it.
However, in spite of these inauspicious beginnings, the inherent talent of Elton, lyricist Bernie Taupin, the band, and producer Gus Dudgeon, assisted by various session singers and a horn section, still managed to turn out a high quality performance with many notable songs. When 'Caribou' is listened to with an open mind, it can be seen to contain very good examples of all the styles for which Elton had become famous - including rock, ballads, blues and country. 'Don't let the sun...' is of course a classic and the stand-out track of the album, but 'I've seen the saucers' is another slow moody piece reminiscent of 'Rocket man', whilst the closing track 'Ticking', featuring just Elton on piano, is a fictional (yet chillingly topical) tale of an armed youngster on a killing spree. On a lighter note, 'Stinker' is a driving, horn-accompanied blues whilst 'Solar prestige a gammon' finds Elton singing nonsense lyrics in a spoof operatic style - a great bit of fun.
The remastered original album is augmented by four additional tracks: two B sides, the hit cover version of 'Pinball wizard' and Elton's Spectoresque seasonal favourite 'Step into Christmas'. All in all a bargain package, essential to EJ fans.
on 8 October 2009
Released next in line after Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, it seems to have been consigned to the ranks of the 'also-ran', but make no mistake, this is an excellent album. With two classic singles (almost) bookending the album 'Bitch is back' is a rocker to open any album and with the sublime 'Don't let the sun go down on me' as the albums tear jerker you know already we're talking quality. Some great moments in between 'Grimbsy' is about ... well, guess! Solar prestige a gammon is just a collection of words to a jaunty piece of vaudevillian escapism. But the real treat for me is the final (Original) album closer - 'Ticking'. A narrative about a gun touting mad-man being shot by the Police it is truly excellent, and criminally overlooked. This is an album to treasure. I regularly play this and with the added delights of the bonus tracks its in my list of 10 ten albums ever !! - and that aint easily achieved. If your reading this 'cos you don't know the album - buy it.....
on 18 March 2003
Caribou is a much criticised Elton John L.P. mainly because it came inbetween his two biggest records, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic. This however gives an unfair reflection of the albums merits. Caribou is an excellent release focusing purely on the balding pub pianist from Pinner and his backing band and containing some great unrecognised Elton tracks. "Pinky" is one of Eltons best album tracks along with the mad "Solar Prestige a Gammon" and "You're so Static" it accumulates a great array of piano based rock and pop. The main track on the album is of course "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", what can be said for this, possibly Elton's finest hour. The track was lucky to be included as allegedly Elton hated it !!
Lets not hold any punches here! Elton John was quite simply the biggest music act in the world at this moment in time. His albums were selling millions and his concerts were full to bursting point! This album although maybe not his best certainly still provides an great example that R.K.Dwight was on top of the world and quite deservedly so!
on 13 August 2008
I have seen a number of reviews of this album, and I keep seeing the word 'directionless'. What does this mean? And who cares? Caribou is my second favourite Elton John album (my favourite is obvious) and the reason is that every song, bar one, is brilliant. The 'bar one' is the aptly titled 'Stinker'. The rest are beautiful. 'Pinky' is a love song that rivals any other. 'Grimsby' is evocative (and one of these days I'll go up there and see if there really is a pub called The Skinners Arms)and by far the best track is 'Ticking'. 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' is a classic (even though, reputedly, Elton John himself hated it) and 'Dixie Lily' is a wonderful little light-hearted ditty. I don't have the space to go into the rest, but believe me, this is Elton John and Bernie Taupin at there (second) best. Buy it!
on 20 June 2004
From what seemed to have made 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' Elton's Best album to date, 'Caribou' Certainly had what it takes, the album, when released in 1974, was a absolute Monster, selling over one million copies in the UK alone. The tracks are as follows:
The Bitch Is Back - A classic Rocker that could have been by the rolling stones, with a catchy chorus
Track two is called 'Pinky'. A beautiful love track with a clarinet in the background, the song is a winner, but is not very famous.
The follow up is 'Grimsby', an out-of-the-blue rock track about the town in the north of England, with recognisable backing vocals
'Dixie Lily' is a country/rock style track with a banjo played by the legendary Davey Johnstone.
'Solar Prestige A Gammon' is a somewhat Latin-influenced track with lyrics that make absolutely no sense atall, and cannot be translated into proper english
Youre So Static reminds me of 'Midnight Creeper' from the 'Don't Shoot Me' album, it is a track about New York City
I've Seen The Saucers is self explanitory, really.
Stinker is Elton at his Rock 'n' Roll Best, with good guitar riffs and a brass section
The standout track is 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me'. Not my favourite of his songs, but everyone else likes it. Again, it has a brass section.
The Finale of thee original album is an underestimated track tat tells a story. 'Ticking' is the only solo track on the album, and is a seven minute plus track.
The Who's 'Pinball Wizard' is the first of the bonus tracks, which has had bits added on, but is better than the original, any Who fans out there.
Sick City, is a rocker (if somewhat dirty, in my opinion), which was the b side to 'Don't Let The Sun...'.
'Cold Highway' is another rocker, which whas probably so to match the style of it's A side: 'The Bitch Is Back'
Thi closing track is the ever popular 'Step Into Christmas', the rocky phil-spectorish track which makes you feel the snow falling, but you've all probably heard it