From 1970 to 1977 Elton John
had an almost unprecedented run of musical brilliance, during that time his work
with lyricist Bernie Taupin rivaled the work of Lennon and McCartney and Brian
In this short bridge of time, John recorded about two very good
albums a year and performed at least 30 songs that can be called rock classics.
Back then he could easily change costumes (literally and figuratively) from
pounding rock and roll ("Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," "The
Bitch Is Back"), to truly beautiful love songs ("Tiny Dancer," "Don't Let The
Sun Go Down On Me"), to funky throw-downs ("Bennie & the Jets," "Philadelphia
Freedom") to retro-vibed piano rave-ups ("Honky Cat," "Crocodile Rock").
All of these songs and more are on the first half of this set and there is not
one wasted or frivolous moment.
The second disk of this set, mostly made
up of songs from the 80s and 90s, sadly shows John losing the touch. Sure,
he was still having hits and he even wrote some truly lovely tunes like
"Sacrifice" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," but his piano
ballad-heavy output made all the songs sound a little too alike.
of the 17 songs on the second disk, only three are upbeat, and one of those was
from his 70s glory days.
Greatest Hits 1970-2002 is the best
compilation made available of this master pop-music craftsman, but it's a little
too easy to notice that it took seven years of brilliant songs to fill up the
first disk and over 25 years to fill the second.