|2. Teacher I Need You|
|3. Elderberry Wine|
|4. Blues For My Baby And Me|
|5. Midnight Creeper|
|6. Have Mercy On The Criminal|
|7. I'm Gonna Be A Teenage Idol|
|8. Texan Love Song|
|9. Crocodile Rock|
|10. High Flying Bird|
|11. Screw You (Young Man's Blues)|
|12. Jack Rabbit|
|13. Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)|
|14. Skyline Pigeon (Piano Version)|
The good news, of course, was Elton's arrival as a full-fledged pop star came with some terrific music, still very enjoyable more than a quarter century later. Actually, his pop leanings were in evidence in 1972 with the release of "Honky Chateau," but this time the gloves are off, and his aim is clearly Casey Kasem country. The result was his first two top-five singles in the U.S., the chart-topping "Crocodile Rock" and #2 hit, "Daniel." "Don't Shoot Me" reached the top of the charts, too, just as "Honky Chateau" did.
If you like "Honky Chateau," chances are good you will like "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player," which in many ways feels like a sequel. The title, for instance, sounds like something the singer in "Honky Cat" might have said if offered an extra chorus. "Crocodile Rock" deals with a faithless girlfriend named Susie, while someone with the same name and inclinations also appears in a song named after her on "Honky Chateau."
The two hits on "Don't Shoot Me," painful as it is to say, aren't as enduring as the hits on "Honky Chateau." Frankly, both "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock" suffer from radio overplay in a way "Honky Cat" and "Rocket Man" don't. That's not to say they aren't great songs, just less enduring. Elton works in some interesting keyboard tones with "Daniel" and plays to the '50s nostalgia craze (quoting Pat Boone, ye gads!) with "Croc Rock," a song I grooved to as a youngster when it first came out and dearly love today. Yet when it comes on my stereo, my focus sometimes wanders a bit.Read more ›
The classic Elton sound can be found here, especially on the hits "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel", which still sound as fresh and as innovative as they did 31 years ago. He shows that he still is a true balladeer with the heartshattering "Blues For My Baby And Me" and "High Flyin' Bird" (the latter, with its surreal harmonies, is a sheer Beach Boys tribute). Elton the rocker bursts out with "I'm Gonna Be A Teenage Idol", "Elderberry Wine" and the Bobby Vee - inspired "Teacher, I Need You".
The bonus tracks give the album some extra strength. I especially the carefree "Jack Rabbit" and his aching remake of "Skyline Pigeon" that was unjustly banished to a b - side when it was first released. "Screw You" and "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" were also very good.
I really think that this a truly essential album. It is Elton nearing his peak, showing that he was a predominant musical force that would be around making classic records and albums for years and years to come.