Deep Album Cuts Vol. 18: Elton John

As one of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s, or of all time, really, Elton John doesn't necessarily need an overview like this. And, as the recent lavish 40th anniversary reissue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road can attest, he does have albums that are held up as classics beyond the hits. But as Robert Christgau once said, "when John is praised critically, it is usually as a singles artist." And having grown up with the same couple dozen singles everybody knows, it's been enriching for me to delve into the rest of his catalog in the last couple years.

Elton John Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Amoreena
2. All The Girls Love Alice
3. Tower Of Babel
4. Madman Across The Water
5. Theme From A Non-Existant TV Series
6. I'm Going To Be A Teenage Idol
7. I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself
8. Pinky
9. Sweet Painted Lady
10. My Father's Gun
11. I've Seen That Movie Too
12. Empty Sky
13. Burn Down The Mission
14. We All Fall In Love Sometimes
15. Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters

Track 12 from Empty Sky (1969)
Tracks 1, 10 and 13 from Tumbleweed Connection (1970)
Track 4 from Madman Across The Water (1971)
Tracks 7 and 15 from Honky Chateau (1972)
Track 6 from Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player (1973)
Tracks 2, 9 and 11 from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
Track 8 from Caribou (1974)
Track 3 and 14 from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)
Track 5 from Blue Moves (1976)

Although I enjoyed last year's The Diving Board, and am a fan of a lot of the '80s hits, I decided to limit this to just the first few years of his career. Elton and Bernie Taupin were so incredibly prolific and successful in that period that, even narrowing down the chronological period, by the time I trimmed this thing down to 80 minutes I didn't have room for anything from Elton John or Rock Of The Westies, to say nothing of any post-1976 work. This is definitely one of those artists I'll earmark for a possible second volume of deep album cuts sometime down the road.

Hearing "Amoreena" in the opening of Dog Day Afternoon was kind of my introduction to taking an interest in Elton deep cuts, and it remains a favorite. Tumbleweed Connection is probably my favorite album, and it fascinates me that it's platinum without any hit singles while Elton John, released 6 months earlier and featuring "Your Song," is only gold, something that really seemed to cement him as an albums artist. Caribou is a really good one from the peak years that always seems to get overlooked. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was my first Elton album, and I have something of a love/hate relationship with it, and don't hold it in the same esteem as a lot of other big double albums. "I've Seen That Movie Too" has always been a favorite, though, and I was amused to recently learn that it played a role in the creation of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Elton has always been a big champion of his deep cuts, playing non-hits like "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" (which is arguably not obscure enough to even be here -- the only deep cut that I've heard on the radio far too much to include was "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"). In a Rolling Stone article during the press run for The Diving Board last year, Elton picked 20 songs to talk about while tracing the arc of his career, including deep cuts like "Empty Sky," "Madman," and "We All Fall In Love Sometimes."

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
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