Ultimately, Elton will be remembered primarily for his string of hits in the seventies although he has continued to make great music ever since. Nevertheless, there have been some periods that have been more successful than others. Prior to the release of this album, Elton had been going through one of his less successful periods. There were signs of a revival on his previous album, which yielded the UK top ten hit, Blue eyes, but this album went way beyond that, giving him two major UK hits and two lesser UK hits, a pattern mirrored almost exactly in the USA.
The album reflects the time in which it was recorded. Synthesizers were fashionable in 1983 and plenty of use is made of them here, but they do not drown out the music or Elton's excellent vocals.
The two big hits here on both sides of the Atlantic were I'm still standing and I guess that's why they call it the blues. Kiss the bride was a lesser hit in both counties. Cold as Christmas also charted in the UK - I don't know whether it did or not in the USA. All these hits are excellent, but there are other fine songs here too, including the title track, Religion, Crystal and Saint. The most intriguing is One more arrow, obviously about somebody that Elton knew but I don't know who it might be. Whipping boy, the only track from the main album I haven't mentioned, is not quite as good as the other tracks here but it's OK. I have the original version of the CD without the bonus tracks but this album is worth it without them. If (as I am led to believe) the bonus tracks are not up to the standard of the main album, you can always stop the music when you reach those tracks.
Following the success of this album, Elton released more fine albums that yielded more big hits prior to another lean spell, but if you want to explore Elton's eighties music, this is the album to begin with - with or without those bonus tracks.