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Reviewed by - George Bennett

Elton John
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Album -

Well, here we go with one more Elton John Hybrid SACD review...but only because I believe it's worth it...
There exists an age-old audiophile delimma:  is the sound quality, the fidelity, of a recording, ultimately more important than the musical content?  Is the content of this disc the best?  No, but good...Is the fidelity the best?  Well, damn close.  (Read on.)
In general, this is good Elton John, not great, EXCEPT (and this is a very important except) for three songs that absolutely cannot be overlooked:  "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", "We All Fall In Love Sometimes" and "Curtains".  While the balance of the disc is good Elton/Taupin, these three alone make the price of admission worthwhile.  Sometimes, you see, the details are more important than the big picture, so to speak.  
Now, don't get me wrong here.  This disc is an excellent example of how wonderful SACD surround can be, it's just that the balance of the songs, while good, are not crucial to have.  However, the above mentioned three songs are crucial to have.  (There are also three bonus tracks, and, among them, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is a winner.)
It sounds to me as if Elton had to force himself to accompany some average lyrics from Bernie Taupin - to try and make it work - whereas, in the past, everything had been so synergistic.  
This disc is well worth having for three reasons:  "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is an epic, soaring to heaven with words and music and harmonies and an arrangement that raise goosebumps.  Sound quality = excellent...harmonies to absolutely die for...and, here, it is necessary to call to your attention the great, and oh-so-cool, the absolutely perfect Nigel Olsson's drumming.  Not only is he spot-on in content, but, and this completes the holy grail of the art of drums: the tuning, placement and recording of the drums are impeccable.  Hear this and you hear some of the best, if not the best, drumming ever recorded.  Absolutely stunning!  Screw air guitar - this is air drums to the max!  Listen to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", "We All Fall In Love Sometimes" and its segue into "Curtains" and you will hear some of the best drum recording and playing ever!  Spine-tingling and smile-inducing!  (All accompanied by excellent arrangements, superb hi-res surround and excellent lyrics and musicianship...and those heavenly harmonies to die for.)
If it seems that I'm pushing hi-res here, and especially SACD, it's because I'd like you, dear reader, to help keep the format alive.  Get this one for the above mentioned three masterpieces.  Absolutely demo-quality material!  Three greats buried amongst the good.  Unquestionably worthwhile.  Get it!

Release Date: November 09, 2004
Tracks: 11 - Time: 62:53
Produced by: Gus Dudgeon
Website: www.eltonjohn.com

Track Listing:

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy / Tower of Babel / Bitter Fingers / Tell Me When the Whistle Blows / Someone Saved My Life Tonight / (Gotta Get a) Meal Ticket / Better Off Dead / Writing / We All Fall In Love Sometimes / Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds / One Day At a Time / Philadelphia Freedom.

Elton John :

Elton John - Vocals / Electric Piano / Harpsichord / Clavinet / Mellotron / ARP Synthesizer
Davey Johnstone - Guitars / Mandolin / Piano
David Henschel - ARP Synthesizer
Dee Murray - Bass
Ray Cooper - Congas / Bongo / Cymbals / Jew's Harp / Tambourine / Triangle / Bells / Hand Bells / Gong
Nigel Olsson - Drums.

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