The Elton John CD Review

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)


1.Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
2.Tower of Babel
3.Bitter Fingers
4.Tell Me When the Whistle Blows
5.Someone Saved My Life Tonight
6.(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket
7.Better Off Dead
8.Writing
9.We All Fall in Love Sometimes
10.Curtains

Bonus Tracks:
11.Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
12.One Day at a Time
13.Philadelphia Freedom

 

The first album in history to have the distinction of debuting at number one on the Billboard charts. No minor feat. With Elton at the pinnacle of his success, this release seemed a wise choice, an autobiographical journey of the rise of Elton and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. Actually, the album begins its narrative at their first meeting and ends at the release of their very first album, Empty Sky. Although one of his least commercially appealing releases, this album has to be considered one of his best ever.

The album starts out with the title track - an innocent tale of the meeting between town mouse and country mouse, who realize there's magic between them. Much of the album is very personal, such as Elton's near disaster marriage as told in Someone Saved My Life Tonight, but some songs deal with the ongoing burdens of trying to make it big in the busines while surrounded by obstacles they never dreamed of encountering. Particularly good are Writing, which tells the tale not only of composing together, but living together in Elton's cramped little room on the second floor of his Mum's Flat. Also well done are Tower of Babel, a sarcastic look at the industry types and Bitter Fingers about those same types and the ridiculous composing demands put on the duo. Perhaps the best (and most overlooked) is the closing medley of We All Fall In Love Sometimes and Curtains which seems to sum up all the feelings of the two that they had been experiencing throughout those early years. It's a beautiful piece.

When one listens with headphones and closes one's eyes, you feel magically transcended to this innocent time in the late sixties and can almost become a part of the whole experience. The sum here is definitely greater than the individual parts. It should also be pointed out that the original album included not only a poster of the lavish cover design, but two booklets entitled "lyrics" and "scraps". These in themselves are worth having to the serious collector and it's a shame that the small CD release can't accommodate them. The two books are chocked full of newspaper clippings, early photographs, journal entries and early influences that make it well worth the effort to try to find the album in a used record store.

NOTE: Sometime in the early 20th century, this disc was rereleased with a bonus disc of his new band at the time (right after the completion of this album) debuting the entire album live. Kind of a dangerous move, when you think about it, but the audience seems overall appreciative.


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