Another ambitious concept LP, another John/Taupin masterpiece, another #1. Along with the smash Someone Saved My Life Tonight and the rest of the 1975 LP, this CD adds three bonus cuts including the #1s Philadelphia Freedom and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds !
With titles like "(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket", "Writing" and "Bitter Fingers" ("Oh, could you knock a line or two together for a friend? /Sentimental, tear-inducing, with a happy end"), this was originally intended as a kind of concept album, loosely retracing the early careers and rise to fame of John and lyricist Bernie Taupin. Instead, it emerges as a clash between its singer's private and public faces, between the songwriter and the showman. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" (allegedly about a failed suicide bid) ranks with John's most tender confessionals and Taupin's best lyrics; while "We All Fall In Love Sometimes" is a wry and compassionate admission of unrequited romantic longing. But then, there's a superfluous reworking of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (intended, it seemed, simply to commemorate the singer's newfound friendship with John Lennon) and the defiantly-upbeat "Philadelphia Freedom." So which was the real Elton? Tragedienne, or pop tart? Decades later, the answer is still far from clear. --Andrew McGuire