on 25 March 2014
Unquestionably a five star album, we should all know by now just how good it is. Obviously some of Elton's finest work on the labum, Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is an epic song worthy of inclusion on any classic rock list and this lengthy double album just rolls out great song after great song. Some people claim some tracks on this album are just 'fillers' which is complete nonsense. The album flows beautifully and a particular favourite moment comes when Your Sistser Can't Twist blasts straight into Saturday Night's Alright. Just brilliant.
Anyway, this 40th Anniversary edition has been nicely remastered (and while not in this package the new vinyls also sound fab) and comes beeutifully presented in a VHS kinda sized box, with a glorious hardback book. The CDs and DVD are all in slim card sleeves with nice artwork for each. Great to have the 70s docu on DVD and the Live discs are fantastic. The only downside to the bonus content is the revisited section, most of the covers are distinctively average at best with only John Grant, Imelda May and the Zac Brown Band standing out, struggled to listen to the rest. However the other bonus material on this disc is great concluding with Elton's brilliant version of The Who's Pinball Wizard. All in all a fantastic package commemoration 40 years of a true classic album.
I hesitate to think of the number of times Elton John's 1973 magnum opus "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" has been reissued on CD since 1984 – what is it by now – 6 thousand or 6 million. But all numeric puns aside – this 2014 Universal/Mercury version with a brand new and comprehensive BOB LUDWIG Remaster is way out in front of them all. And I'd argue that the 'single disc' variant at under a fiver is all the audio love you'll ever need...
Fans will know that there's the Deluxe Edition with an Extra Disc of the whole album re-interpreted into modern day duets – and a 5-disc Super Deluxe Variant that gives us previously live shows, the duets set and DVD stuff too. But is all that fluff actually necessary - especially when you have to pay a pretty penny for it? I'd argue no - sometimes less is more. Let's get to the Norma Jeans, Bennie and His Jets and some sociable Fighting on a Saturday Night...
UK and US released 24 March 2014 – "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by ELTON JOHN on Universal/Mercury 375 858-9 (Barcode 602537585892) is a '40th Anniversary' single disc CD Remaster of the original 17-track 1973 double-album and plays out as follows (76:11 minutes):
1. (a) Funeral For A Friend (b) Love Lies Bleeding [Side 1]
2. Candle In The Wind
3. Bennie And The Jets
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [Side 2]
5. This Song Has No Title
6. Grey Seal
7. Jamaica Jerk-Off
8. I've Seen That Movie Too
9. Sweet Painted Lady [Side 3]
10. The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)
11. Dirty Little Girl
12. All The Girls Love Alice
13. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll) [Side 4]
14. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
15. Roy Rogers
16. Social Disease
Tracks 1 to 17 are his 9th album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" – a double-LP set released October 1973 in the UK on DJM Records DJLPD 1001 and in the USA on MCA Records MCA2-10003. All tracks were written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin – David Hentschel (Dave Henschel) was the Engineer and Gus Dudgeon Produced. Del Newman did Orchestral Arrangements on Tracks 4, 8, 9, 10, 15 and 17. The core band was Elton John on all Keyboards and Lead Vocals, Davey Johnstone on All Guitars and Backing Vocals, Dee Murray on Bass and backing Vocals and Nigel Olsson on Drums and Backing Vocals. David Hentschel plays A.R.P. Synth on "Funeral For A Friend" and "All The Girls Love Alice". the 2LP set "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" hit the No. 1 spot on both the UK and USA LP charts in October 1973.
The 12-page booklet features the same layout as the Gus Dudgeon 1995 remaster in that it reproduces the inner tri-gatefold of the original vinyl double album with Ian Beck's lovely artwork as well as David Larkham and Michael Ross's illustrations and lyrics. There's no liner notes per say and basic credits. Long-time tape supremo BOB LUDWIG has handled the new 2014 Remaster. Fans will know that the 2003 DELUXE EDITION double had stunning remasters from Andy Strange, Chris Bellman and Tony Cousins – so is this version any better? I don’t know if better is the word – more 'equal too'. I like both - but there's something about this new go at it that sounds just that little bit more nuanced...
1973 was a huge year for Elton. Along with Bernie Taupin his lyricist – their collaborative songwriting mojo seemed to be not just on fire but blazing. His 8th album the beautifully and elaborately packaged "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player" with the big hits "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock" had gone to No. 1 in both Blighty and The States in February - and no sooner had the public drawn breath then they were hit with his double-album meisterwerk in October 1973 – "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (another Number 1 winner). It opens with the eleven-minute magnificence of "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" – a two-part almost Prog monster that rocks, rolls and sweeps for the whole of its brilliant duration. It proved such a winner with fans that DJM Records couldn't resist actually releasing its eleven minutes as the A-side to a 12" Single EP in September 1978 in a unique Picture Sleeve (DJT 15000). The hero of the hour is surely Davey Johnstone and his stunning axework that seems to be everywhere in your speakers. It's followed by the album's most iconic song "Candle In The Wind" – a love song and homage to the sad demise of Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe – later reprised by Elton to reflect the world's sadness at Diana Spencer's loss in 1997 – another princess taken too soon. There's real warmth in this transfer and the song is still touching. The 'live' feel to "Bennie And The Jets" comes over like a football anthem – those punched piano riffs are in your face and threatening to smash the cocktail glasses over the hotel waiter's head.
Another hero of the album is the Jazz sleaze shuffle of "I've Seen That Movie Too" – here in gorgeous Audio (Drums, Bass and Piano all shining) – the whole thing elevated into a thing of musical beauty by Del Newman's complimentary string arrangements. Its cleverly followed by another forgotten Elton sweetie - "Sweet Painted Lady" - and to this day I don't know whose playing the Accordion or Tuba (all part of Del Newman’s strings)? The transfer of "Danny Bailey..." gives more muscle to those Backing Vocals and Strings - while Davey's lowdown and snotty Guitar sound on "Dirty Little Girl" gives the 'hasn't had a bath in years' tune real anger and attack. Speaking of Blistering Guitar parts – the sexually knowing "All The Girls Love Alice" rocks like a mother – Davey ripping it up while David Hentschel bottoms the chorus with that clever ARP Synth fill. The faster-than-anything-else bubblegum pop of the souped-up "Your Sister Can't Twist..." sounds utterly amazing but actually leaves me cold. You can't say the same of the 'belly full of beer' rocker "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" leaping out of your speakers like a boot boy intent on damaging private property (what a tune this is).
Side 4 winds down with "Roy Rogers" – the dynamic duo's obsession with all things Wild West surfacing once again. The overall soundstage is full and incredibly alive – those strings and pedal steel wrapping themselves around Elton's vocals. The twittering birds and bulldog barks of "Social Disease" start to increase in Volume as the song progresses – and again the Remaster is fantastic - highlighting Elton's Piano and Davey's Banjo plucking. It ends on the surprisingly upbeat "Harmony" and there's amazing clarity on the Acoustic Guitars and those layered backing vocals.
Re-listening to 1973's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in its entirety in 2016 and you're struck by its track-after-track brilliance – a genuine 1970s Classic Rock LP masterpiece. My only fidget would be that there's a truly gorgeous 'Acoustic Mix' of "Candle In The Wind" on the 2003 Deluxe Edition that would have made the most perfect singular additional Bonus Track on here – ending the whole thing on a reminder of just how touching Elton’s songwriting chops were/still are (but alas).
"...Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in..." - Elton sang sadly on "Candle In The Wind". Well if you're in a nostalgic mood - start your journey back down the Yellow Brick Road right here. And remember - this gorgeous Audio '40th Anniversary' trek won't cost you a flight to Vegas or a night at Caesars Palace either...but I suspect it'll feel just as good...
While it is possible to argue that there are perhaps a couple of Elton John albums which may rival (or even better) 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' in terms of song quality, there aren't any that have managed to match it in stylistic range. In other words 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' successfully manages to encompass every facet of Elton's musical styles in a double album package that is sharp and bright in tone with enough variety to never seem boring. It also makes a strong case against those who feel Elton's forte is in being a bland balladeer.
Rock 'n' roll - ' Your Sister Can't Twist ..', 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting', reggae - 'Jamaica Jerk Off', and soul - 'Bennie And The Jets', sits perfectly alongside Elton's more traditional ballads such as the well known 'Candle In The Wind' and 'Harmony' in an album that works on every level.
Bernie Taupin's lyrics are also varied in terms of theme ranging from his tribute to Marilyn Monroe - 'Candle In The Wind', prostitution - 'Sweet Painted Lady', cowboys - 'Roy Rogers', the film 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' and the unusual, futuristic 'Bennie And The Jets'.
Not every song is prime Elton though - 'Social Disease' and 'All The Girls Love Alice' aren't particularly striking but to be fair they're not exactly bad either.
Versitility is the key to the greatness of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', whether musically, lyrically and also in Elton's vocal performance. In fact it's refreshing to hear what a really fine and versitile voice Elton had in his youth and it's an album like this that blows away any hint of the personality driven Elton in more recent years who's forte when he does record tends to be more often than not, boring and overblown ballads. On 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' he has greater scope which, whatever he does in the future he'll never be able to match. Elton's range had diminished with age to such an extent that there's no way he could ever record an album so diverse and varied as 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' again - that's why it's an album that deserves to be cherished.
on 4 March 2005
My mothers taste in music when I was a kid ranged from the brilliant (Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell) to the obsurdly terrible (Edward Woodward, Rod Stewart). But nothing could be questioned about her choice in this case. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is an amazing collection of songwriting superbly performed. Not only does every song stand out on its own, the album seems to blend beautifully into an experience you just want to listen to start to finish. The opening 4 songs would be enough on their own to satisfy most people. But it just goes on and on, you sit there waiting for a contirved track without its own personailty and it doesn't come. Before you know it, you're swimming in the perfect way to end such a brilliant record - "Harmony". This album must be one of the greatest ever released and it wouldn't matter to me if Elton John had never recorded again. Saying that, I'm very pleased he has continued to turn out wonderful music, even if not quite as amazing as this collection as a whole. Can't not say how incredible I thought "Benny and the Jets" was when I was I kid, and how I came 3rd in a Kareoke one night singing it surrounded by gay women. FANTASTIC!!!!
I love this album so it goes without saying I forked out my hard earnrd for this, primarily for the Hammersmith show, Elt at his prime, great show.
The new remaster does improve the previous remaster, not hugely,so thats a bonus.
The hardback book is nice with some good photos but the info within doesn't really give much that is new.
My pet hates now:
1.The cover versions on the Revisited cd I could really do without, they add nothing new and pale in comparison to the originals so WHY WHY WHY?
2.The dvd, at this price should have been on blu ray, remastered and with some bonus extras.Most fans probably already own the dvd separately anyway so thats a disappointment.
3..The crappy thin card sleeves that house the discs are diabolical, I had to be really really careful to remove the shrinkwrap, fearing to either rip the sleeve or damage the discs within.
So overall if your a fan of this album in particular you no doubt will, like me, buy, but I would suggest that the casual fan should keep their dough and just purchase the previous remaster or the slimmed version of this release.
I would really like to see a nice deluxe edition of Honky Chateau and Madman with perhaps a nice early concert of that period when Elt really kicked ass and didnt worry to much about what he wore, fun though that was.
And here we go again, Amazon mixing old reviews with this new release!!!
REVISED OPINION OF REMASTER
HAVING NOW HAD 3 RUN THROUGHS OF THIS REMASTER AND THE OLD ONE, THIS IS MUCH BETTER, PARTICULARLY ON THE LUSH ORCHESTRAL MOVIE TOO.MUCH MORE SONIC DEPTH OVERALL.ENJOY.
on 24 March 2014
Difficult to review, at large because I'm concerned it will get plastered on all versions on this release. This, for me at least, is a 5 star album, however this Deluxe release is disappointing. I would like to set the stats lower, largely due to a number of included elements, however it might reflect badly on this title elsewhere on Amazon.
Before I get into anything negative, aside from a few throw away songs here and there, this is indeed a strong album. I could easily do without songs like 'Jamaican Jerk Off,' 'Dirty Little Girl,' 'You're Sister Can't Twist But She Can Rock and Roll,' and 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting,' which probably reinforce some people's 'glam rock' view of this particular album, however the remaining songs (13) are among Elton's very best. My particular favorites are 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' 'This Song Has No Title' 'The Ballad of Danny Bailey,' 'Sweet Painted Lady' 'I've Seen that Movie Too,' 'Roy Roger's' 'Social Disease' and 'Harmony.'
Concerning this 40yr anniversary Deluxe edition.
The cover versions of 9 songs, included on the Deluxe release, aren't in any way good. That's that said and done. I hate them! A bunch of odds and sods cobbled together, offering very little indeed. I like John Grant, and was looking forward to his 'Sweet Painted Lady,' but even he couldn't drag this batch of uninspiring flops into any favorable light, in my opinion. There's not a single cover here that appeals. They are not all the same king of bad, Imelda May's 'Sister Can't Twist' is actually better than the original, only suffering because I don't like the song, Emili Sande's 'All the Young Girls Love Alice,' is notably different to the original, but in a style I'm not overly keen on, though I'm sure it's good in it's own way, and then there's 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting' by Fallout Boy, which shows exactly how to make a bad song worse. I've always disliked that song, and not only did they fail to revive it, all they've done is breath new life into it's most awful elements, as bad as The Who's cover of the same song, way back when (Two Rooms).
The documentary on the Super Duluxe release would be, for many, a nice little extra, however no further efforts have been made to add any extra material (there no doubt being none available), but a commentary may have been good, perhaps a selection of album related live performances, in this case offering only what has already been available to view on sites such as youtube for a while already.
Sadly, the concert included here has also been available elsewhere for a long time, and the additional songs were included on previous 'special additions,' including the remasters of 'Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player,' 'Carribou' and this album's '30 yr Anniversary' release.
The only additional thing, of potential interest to long time fans of Elton John, is the assembly of covers by other artists, all of which, as said, pale in significance, in comparison to the original material, except for one, aforementioned, loathsome original, it's cover being better. I've heard better, more interesting, covers elsewhere.
I've not been able to discern any notable differences between this remaster, and that of 1995's remaster, but will accept that could quite simply be a matter of less than perfect hearing, perhaps unable to pick up subtle changes, so I can't really review that aspect of this release, but would be interested to hear what others can, or can't, hear.
on 29 July 2013
This review is for the Hybrid SACD Deluxe version, but using a normal CD player - SACD owners whose players can play the Super Audio layer on the disc might be treated to an even better experience!
Anyone who was around when this first came out will remember it being a seminal moment in early-70's pop history - the sleeve artwork alone made you want to leave out on the coffee table to show off (until Sade's 'Diamond Life' came along). Looking back, perhaps some of Elton's other albums are more musically coherent, but by the time this was released (1973) he was well into his 'entertainer' phase and the wide range of musical styles on the album captures the times perfectly. When CDs first came out in 1980, the first track I wanted to have demonstrated at the local HiFi shop was the massive opener, 'Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding'. It was brave of Elton to open a double album with a funeral, but the majesty of it is still powerfully resonant and it gets the set off with a mighty kick.
What drew me to this deluxe edition was a hoped-for improvement in the sound quality - and I wasn't disappointed. Elton's albums are always beautifully crafted, but compared to my original CD copy, this Deluxe version opens everything up sonically. The original CD release sounds thin and constricted - it has none of the presence or natural 'bloom' of the deluxe version. We're not talking 'loudness' here - but it's like you've moved about twenty rows nearer the soundstage and are being treated to the subtleties in the instrumentation and performances. It's well worth Elton fans checking out his other albums that have been given the Deluxe treatment, which similarly gets you nearer the action. This isn't a money-making exercise - Elton wants you to hear his music in the best quality possible, and this version certainly fits the bill.