Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Box Set

On his milestone seventh album, Elton John left behind his sepia-toned singer-songwriter reality for a far brighter Hollywood-inspired rock & roll fantasy. At times, the diverse but filler-free 1973 double album's vivid Technicolor tunes – from the mournful prog-rock of opener "Funeral for a Friend" to the sunny, symphonic pop finale "Harmony" – suggest what the Beatles might have created had they stuck together a few more years.

 This welcome five-CD-plus-DVD expansion adds several non-LP singles; a new, nine-cut tribute set featuring contemporary fans from Miguel to Fall Out Boy (John Grant's sighing "Sweet Painted Lady" is the highlight); a vintage documentary about the album's creation; and, best of all, an explosive London concert that demonstrates how hard John and his kickass band could rock between eloquent ballads like "Your Song." Rawer performances flatter his refined melodies: The raucous climax of "The Ballad of Danny Bailey" proves the piano-pounder can wail like a plow through a penthouse.

From The Archives Issue 1206: April 10, 2014