The 5 Greatest Elton John Albums of the 1970’s

by on October 20th, 2010
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For people who lived through the 1970’s, an introduction to Elton John is not needed. During that time, the pop star was all over every radio station across the world. From hit singles like “Daniel” to “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” you could barely go anywhere without hearing the name Elton John. John, along with lyricist Bernie Taupin released 17 albums from 1970-1979. Here is a list of the 5 greatest Elton John albums of the 1970s.

5) Tumbleweed Connection

The first album that Elton John released after his successful stint at The Troubadour Club in Los Angeles was “Tumbleweed Connection.” The album yielded no hits, but was a success nonetheless, and only strengthened Elton’s popularity. Today, if a musician released an album with no hits, their career would cease to exist. But this wasn’t a problem for Elton, as the album was full of solid tunes. In the 1991 release Two Rooms , Bernie Taupin stated the album was inspired by his love for the American west. The album is a solid mix of country and rock and roll. Elton hammers the piano while belting out concert favorite “Burn Down the Mission.” But it wouldn’t be an Elton John ballad without a super sweet and endearing ballad. Tumbleweed Connection features “Come Down in Time.” The bare song is highlighted by Elton’s young voice. A great treat for those listeners who love backing vocals is the tune “My Father’s Gun.” The song was featured in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown. “Tumbleweed Connection” remains one of Elton John’s best kept secrets, as even music critics don’t often mention it’s success. More information on Tumbleweed Connection.

4) Madman Across The Water

The early 70’s was good to Elton John. It was a time when his music stood on his own, and his songs weren’t overshadowed by his outlandish performances. Although only nine tracks long, “Madman Across The Water” is one of Elton John’s top five albums of the 1970s. It featured the hit single “Levon.” The album is also home to one of Elton John’s most famous songs, “Tiny Dancer.” The song wasn’t a hit in 1971. It only became a hit after it was used in a pivotal scene in Cameron Crowe’s movie “Almost Famous .” The album features Elton John’s masterful piano playing at the forefront, and a seamless band. The only song on the album which is less than stellar is the final track “Goodbye,” which lacks any impact. It’s just kind of there. “Madman Across The Water” on Amazon.

3) Honky Chateau

The 1972 album features a mix of folk and mainstream pop. It was released at the tail end of Elton John’s singer/songwriter era and at the beginning of his pop star era. The album features the toe tapping hit “Honky Cat” as well as the somber “Mona Lisas and Madhatters.” But the song that drove this album to the top of the charts was “Rocket Man.” According the Billboard.com, the single “Rocket Man” spent 15 weeks on the Hot 100 chart. The album also features a very fun and bouncy song called “I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself.” Despite the morbid title and lyrics, the song is very light and catchy. This album truly is a different kind of Elton John album and may surprise some fans. It’s easily his most bluesy album, featuring numbers like “Mellow” and the aforementioned “Honky Cat.” This may be Elton’s most breezy, easy and amusing album. You can read more details about “Honky Chateau” at Amazon.com.

2) Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

In 1975, Elton John and Bernie Taupin decided to release an epic album. It was to be called “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” and it was an autobiographical album. Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin met in 1967 and spent several years together before hitting it big in 1970 after a handful of performances at The Troubadour Club in Los Angeles. This 10 track album leads the listener through the heartache, failure and ultimate success the two eventually had. The title track opens the album. Elton John is Captain Fantastic, and Bernie Taupin is The Brown Dirt Cowboy. These nicknames refer to their personalities. Elton John was at his flamboyant best, standing on his piano in his most creative outfits. And Taupin, he was a laid back country boy. He didn’t yearn for the spotlight, but wanted to stay in the background. The hit single from this album is “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” The popular song remains one of Elton John’s most famous and beloved songs. The songs striking chorus and memorable lyrics have been able to withstand the test of time. Also included on this album is the love song “We All Fall In Love Sometimes” and the drum heavy “Better Off Dead.” However, the last song ends with Elton’s most dramatic finishes. The best part of the song is the backing vocal over Elton John’s rhythmic vocals, which is very reminiscent of The Beach Boys. “Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy” can be found on Amazon. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy on Amazon

1) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Undoubtedly, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is quintessential Elton John. In fact, it should be mandatory in every music lovers catalog. The album was Elton’s first double LP and it contains six hits, four of which have been radio mainstays. The opening track is the 11 minute rock and roll rollercoaster entitled “Funeral For a Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding.” If you’ve ever though that the only thing Elton could write was ballads, this album will change your mind. The masterpiece goes from classical piano to rock and roll piano to pop piano throughout the adventure. In addition to “Funeral for a Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding,” the album also features rockers like ” Grey Seal” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.” Of course, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” is one of Elton John’s most well known and popular songs. Most recently, the song was covered by Nickelback for the “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” soundtrack. The album also featured three other major hits. According to www.eltonography.com, those songs were “Candle in the Wind” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The final song on the album is “Harmony” which was a minor radio hit. This album capture Elton John and Bernie Taupin at their most magical and successful moment in their career. This is when the duo was on top of the music world and could do no wrong. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is to Elton John and “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band ” is to The Beatles. The essential album is available through Amazon. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on Amazon

Elton John remains a music icon today. This is due in part to his huge success of the 1970s. Of the 17 released albums, these were the five greatest. But his other albums hold many other gems and should not be overlooked. Elton John is one of music’s last journeymen.


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