In retrospect, Elton John created a lot of relatively serious music from the start of his career until ""Yellow Brick Road." There were moments when his music was fun, such as "Crocodile Rock" and "Jamaica Jerkoff," but the general tone of his music was serious. Even the often reviled "Caribou" had some of Elton's most serious music ("Ticking") mixed in with the inane songs. "Rock of the Westies," on the other hand, was almost all fun, typically hard-rocking, songs.
The CD kicks off with a medley that's fast paced with multiple changeups and some deliberately funny lyrics. The ending of this song is so fast that you have to wonder whether the speed was helped by some creative electronics. "Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)" continues the fun and silliness. James Newton Howard manages to have a lot of fun with keyboards throughout this song. Silly and fun and a song I enjoy when I'm in the right mood. This song would be fun for a frat party.
"Island Girl" was a huge hit in the mid-70s. The song has some reggae elements to go with the lyrics. Though the lyrics had the potential to be serious, Elton kept the music in the vein of the opening songs and kept this song to the lighter side. "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" remains light and funky and more than a little humorous. There are some good guitar licks in this song and some more James Newton Howard synthesizer sound effects.
"I Feel like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford) is the one moment of seriousness on this album. This ballad about the breakup of a relationship has always been my favorite from this album, and one of the most creative songs on the album.
The next three songs are rockers, but are relatively fun songs. The tone of the sound just refuses to allow any of the three, "Street Kids," "Hard Luck Story," and "Feed Me," to be serious to any degree. These are good party songs.
Admittedly "Billy Bones and the White Bird" should fall into the same group as the previous three songs, but I really like this song and think the lyrics and music were creative. The allusions to seafaring myths were interesting and original. The only thing I do not care for in this song is the repetitiveness of portions of the lyrics.
This CD includes two bonus tracks, "Planes" and "Sugar on the Floor." Both songs are much more serious than the majority of the songs on the CD. "Planes" is bluesy and shows none of the synthesizer silliness that tended to appear in many of the other songs. This song sounds more like music from "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player." "Sugar on the Floor" is even bluesier, and also reminds me of Elton's early music. This particular song is the mellowest song on this CD.
1975 was a turning point for rock music, and for Elton John. Soon funk and disco would be overwhelming the airwaves, and Elton would drift away from the style that made him famous. But for one album we got to see Elton having a good time, and do it thoroughly and well. While much of the music may be among Elton's lesser efforts, it is still powerful and frequently creative, and nearly always listenable and interesting. Worthy of being considered a classic Elton John album.