Monday, June 9, 2008

Jeff's Quick Picks -- Elton John

Elton John
Tumbleweed Connection [Deluxe Edition]

I decided to cheat this week with my Quick Picks; instead of a song I’d like to highlight an album. A Deluxe Edition, to be exact. Last week, there were two reissues of two classic Elton John albums released, his self titled work and it’s sequel, Tumbleweed Connection. My choices were limited to one or the other, and in the end Jeff left Best Buy with a tumbleweed in hand.

Tumbleweed Connection ranks quite high on the list of the great Elton John albums; in my book it alternates in the top spot with Captain Fantastic. Thus, I was quite curious to listen to alternate takes/new material from a truly classic album. The results were pleasing enough, although not hugely enlightening.

“There Goes A Well-Known Gun” is presented in a completely different fashion; foreshadow of Captain Fantastic with it’s country rock vibe. I love the original, but this version has it’s moments. “Sisters Of The Cross” is the only 100% new song contained on the album, but it’s intriguing enough to make one ponder what could have been. John demonstrates his amazing command of performance on just a piano once more; in that he is at the top of the heap.

The Deluxe Edition concludes with 4 songs lifted from an unreleased series of BBC Sessions, and are well worth the time to listen to. These are songs that would not be performed live for decades in some cases, and here John and his band infuse them a raw energy of an act trying to make it big (“Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun” and “Burn Down The Mission” in particular).

This is one of Elton’s best albums, and in this format it has received a fresh update with enough bonus material to provide some perspective. For a Deluxe Edition, that is all one can ask for.

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