Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the album that turned Elton John into a true superstar. Although he was already known in 1973 due to the growing success of his previous albums - including Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, Elton John and Honky Chateau - it was the release of this double album that made Elton a household name, going on to sell a staggering 31-million copies. Goodbye... perfectly marries the various elements of Elton’s craft: classic songwriting, glam stomp, R&B, gospel, jaw-dropping performances, soul and a large helping of brilliant showmanship.
The album spent eight weeks at No.1 and went platinum seven times over in the U.S. It also contains Elton and co-writer Bernie Taupin’s most successful song, “Candle in the Wind”; a No.1 hit three times, in three different versions, in three successive decades, ultimately becoming the biggest-selling single of all time. It also features dynamite standards such as “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Bennie and the Jets,” the latter being the song that led to Elton becoming the first white performer to appear on the influential American R&B TV show Soul Train. The album is also ranked No. 91 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “Top 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time” chart. In a career filled with highlights that other artists can only dream of, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road stands as a towering achievement, a defining moment in the most exciting era in rock history.
Often referred to as the pinnacle of Elton and co-writer Bernie Taupin’s creative powers and commercial success, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the eighth studio album the pair had released in a three-year period. But the recording of the album wasn't the smoothest of experiences. After initial attempts at recording in Kingston, Jamaica, were derailed by the double whammy of industrial action at the studio and further disruption was caused by a world boxing title fight in the town, Elton and the band returned to the familiar settings of Chateau d’Herouville. The album was completed in a staggering seventeen days (including mixing!) and the result is a body of work of huge ambition - kicking off with the grandiose, epic prog-rock sound of “Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding,” and effortlessly segueing between pop, hard rock, soul, and stunning heart-wrenching ballads.
The album artwork was also a giant leap forward creatively for Elton. Whereas earlier album artwork either didn’t feature Elton at all, or showed him as an earnest early 70’s songwriter, here he can been seen resplendent in sparkling platform boots, a satin bomber jacket and, of course, his soon-to-be trademark flamboyant eyewear. The sight of him stepping from an unglamorous normal street into a magical fantasy world is not only a metaphor for the transition he was going through as an artist but is one of the most defining images of early 1970’s rock music.
1. Funeral For A Friend
2. Love Lies Bleeding
3. Candle In The Wind
4. Bennie And The Jets
5. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
6. This Song Has No Title
7. Grey Seal
8. Jamaica Jerk Off
1. I've Seen that Movie Too
2. Sweet Painted Lady
3. The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)
4. Dirty Little Girl
5. All the Girls Love Alice
6. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock'n'Roll)
7. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
8. Roy Rogers
9. Social Disease