.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/a07ff9765b66ff5f762baee512c1850f2f5f462c.jpg Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Reissue)

Elton John

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Reissue)

Island
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
September 4, 2008

Elton John was a lot of things — sideman, session man and flop, with a long tail of failed solo releases, including the 1969 LP Empty Sky — before 1970's Elton John made him an overnight star. He wasn't afraid to admit it. John packed a bonus scrapbook in the original lavish packaging of 1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy with bad-hair photos, comic music-press ads ("You've been warned! Elton John is 1968's great new talent") and other ample proof of his time, with lifelong lyricist Bernie Taupin, in Sixties-pop boot camp. That book is miniaturized for this reissue. Everything else here has ballooned; each album now has a second CD of demos, stray singles and, in the case of Captain Fantastic, a complete 1975 live premiere of the record. On Elton John, the extras actually trump the baroque strings and hippie-gospel chorales that crowded "Sixty Years On" and "Take Me to the Pilot." Stripped-bare demos of nearly every song on the record highlight the '68 Beatles and '58 Jerry Lee Lewis in John's voice and piano. With its flinty guitars and the natural gunslinger's gait of "Country Comfort" and "Burn Down the Mission," 1971's Tumbleweed Connection needs no improvement; it is one of the best country-rock albums ever written by London cowboys. But an early epic take of "Madman Across the Water," cut at the sessions with glam-blues guitar by Mick Ronson, is reason enough to buy this edition. An instant Number One hit, Captain Fantastic was, ironically, a great concept — a look back at John and Taupin's pre-fame labors — short on songs as great as the ones that made them famous, except for the opulent ballad "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." The concert version is the same flawed album but with muted applause — until the encores.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Stillness Is the Move”

    Dirty Projectors | 2009

    A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com