Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)

Elton John

Island, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


This Tuesday saw the release of a 40th anniversary edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which included the original album in its remastered form, a second disc consisting of bonus tracks and re-recorded versions of the album’s songs from current day artists, and two discs comprising of a full concert performance from 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon.

The new versions of various GYBR songs are the primary selling point for this edition of the album, which has seen multiple reissues over the last twenty years or so. Some of the biggest names in the music world in 2014 (Hunter Hayes, Zac Brown Band, Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy) jumped at the chance to contribute, and the result is some very interesting takes on material that we have listened to for four decades now.

Some of the artists chose to play things relatively straightforward; for example Ed Sheeran’s “Candle In The Wind” and the Zac Brown Band’s take on “Harmony” are similar to their original counterparts in tone and production. The latter in particular takes the strongest part of Elton’s version, the harmonies, and knocks them out of the park, delivering a performance that’s arguably greater than its 1973 counterpart.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The more risky interpretations are, of course, more hit-and-miss in terms of how successful they are. Miguel’s “Bennie And The Jets” is interesting in how it provides a clear-cut example of what a modern day “Bennie And The Jets” would sound like. But unfortunately, it sucks the soul out of what was a successful record on the R&B charts in the ‘70s. The Band Perry’s country-fied version of “Grey Seal” is immensely enjoyable, and Emile Sande’s moody, passionate rendition of “All The Girls Love Alice” captures the spirit of Taupin’s lyrics in a way that you could argue the original did not.

And for Elton fans, the chance to hear an entire concert from 1973 is one hell of an enticing proposition. I would say that John was at the peak of his powers during the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road stretch, and this recording captures just how high he was riding. Granted, Elton’s persona in those years had a strong visual component with the garish costumes and outlandish glasses, etc., but the music was always at the core. The four-piece unit of John, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone was incredibly tight at this point and the performances reflect that. The concert also gives an opportunity to hear some songs that are rarely performed live anymore by Elton (and should be).

My feelings on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road have been well known on this website for years now, it is an album that definitely has stood the test of time and represents all the best of Elton John. The 2014 reissue shows how deeply the album laid its roots and also gives a glimpse of the excitement that surrounded the record’s release in ’73. The fresh takes and outstanding live performance truly make this the quintessential version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and to be able to say that in 2014 is a statement indeed.

Rating: A

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