Top positive review
When John and Taupin could do no wrong (Even though Gus didn't like it!)
on 4 July 2017
Elton John and Bernie Taupin were so much on top of their game in 1974, that even a mediocre effort (by their own standards) was worth listening to. I have a lot of affection for "Caribou", not least because it was the very first LP that I ever owned. But it's not pure nostalgia that keeps me coming back to this album at various points of my life. Yes it's rough around the edges, yes the songwriting is not as sharp and consistent as the astonishing run of classic albums that preceded it - but I love the charm of this record. And it quite possibly has one of the most underrated and unheard of all John/Taupin classics in "Ticking" (I could write a review of this song alone).
As far as I know (I may be wrong), Caribou was a "contractural obligation" album that was hastily recorded while touring the world, so very little time was dedicated to the making of the record. This shows in the rather patchy production and fairly simplistic writing of most of the songs. But John and Taupin had so much material back then and were so amazingly prolific, that even when they were "treading water" they were good. I also love the loose playing on this album, Dee Murray's bass sounds gorgeous and there seems to be a great deal of fun in the actual performing.
Highlights for me are the two hit singles (The Bitch Is Back and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me), I've Seen The Saucers (Rocket man part 2?) and the astonishing Ticking. Lyricly, Ticking could have been written in the present day, given the fact that we seem to witness mass shootings so regularly in the U.S. Elton's piano interventions in this piece are quite magnificent and convey the real time story telling superbly, Taupin's lyrics flow effortlessly.
One or two tracks are a bit sloppy (You're So Static for example), but Caribou is a highly underrated album, often overlooked. But to me, this shines out over most of his post 1976 efforts and is one that I will often revisit.
The extended version contains the brilliant Sick City, which was the b-side to Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.