You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this relatively quiet UK pressing
Includes two of our favorites: (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket and the massive hit Someone Saved My Life Tonight
5 stars: “Elton John and Bernie Taupin recalled their rise to power in Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, their first explicitly conceptual effort since Tumbleweed Connection. It’s no coincidence that it’s their best album since then, showcasing each at the peak of his power, as John crafts supple, elastic, versatile pop and Taupin’s inscrutable wordplay is evocative, even moving.”
It isn’t easy to find clean early British copies of Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy these days, let alone ones that actually sound very good, but this copy proves that it can be done. It’s killer on both sides.(more…)
A classic case of Live and Learn. Scroll down to read what we learned from our recent shootout. To illustrate how the game is played we’ve copied some of the previous commentary into this listing to show the change in our understanding from 2004 to today.
Folks, if you’re looking for Classic Rock that appeals to adults with sophisticated tastes forty plus years after it was made, this is the album for you.
What’s especially remarkable about this album is the quality of the string arrangements. I don’t know of another pop record that uses strings better or has better string tone. The strings are all over this record, not only adding uniquely interesting qualities to the backgrounds of the arrangements, but actually taking the foreground on some of the songs, most notably Sixty Years On. When the strings give in to a lovely harp just before Elton starts singing, the effect is positively glorious. It’s the nexus where amazing Tubey Mgical sound meets the best in popular music suffused with brilliant orchestral instrumentation. Who did it better than The Beatles and Elton John? They stand alone.(more…)
If you have the Direct Disc Labs half-speed you have one truly awful record in your collection, so sucked out in the midrange, so compressed everywhere, what the hell were they thinking making this rockin’ album sound like that? It’s positively disgraceful. It makes MoFi look like they knew what they doing, and we know that sure isn’t true.
In truth we did not actually have a copy of the MoFi handy for this shootout, but in our defense let us just say that we’ve heard their pressing many times over the course of the last twenty years. It’s better than the DD Labs version but not good enough for me to want to play it — compressed and sucked-out like practically every record they ever made, just not as badly as the DD Labs version.(more…)
An outstanding copy of this classic album, rating exceptionally good Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
Honky Chateau contains some of the most Tubey Magical High-Production-Value rock music ever recorded – thanks Ken Scott!
Not the quietest copy we’ve ever played – Mint Minus Minus to EX++ on both sides – but obviously one of the better sounding
5 stars: “The most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote … It’s one of the finest collections of mainstream singer/songwriter pop of the early ’70s.”
If you doubt that Elton John was a kind of Pop Music Genius for much of the ’70s, just play this record. These eleven tracks should easily serve as all the proof you need. There’s not a dog in the bunch. Drop the needle on any track, you simply can’t go wrong.
We go years between shootouts for Honky Chateau. It’s beyond difficult to find clean British copies of this album with the right stampers, let alone copies that have Hot Stamper sound. Few albums are tougher for us to find with great sound and quiet vinyl. Most of the copies we buy from record dealers in England are noisy and only a fraction of them have the kind of sound that serious audiophiles are going to pay good money for.
Superb Music, Amazing Sound
This has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a prized spot on our Rock and Pop Top 100 List. It’s a shining example of just how good High-Production-Value rock music of the ’70s can be.(more…)
You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this Elton John classic
The overall sound here is incredibly big, rich, spacious and dynamic with plenty of presence and bottom end weight
An incredible recording and longtime member of our Top 100 — our pick for Elton’s very best music and sound
5 stars: “….their most ambitious record to date… A loose concept album about the American West… draws from country and blues in equal measures…”
Superb Music and Sound
This has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a Top Ten spot on our Top 100 list. Engineered by Robin Geoffrey Cable at Trident, there is no other Elton John recording that is as big and powerful as Tumbleweed.(more…)
An outstanding copy of Madman with Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last
A ridiculously tough album to find with the right sound and reasonably quiet surfaces – which is why we so rarely have them on the site
The last of the classic albums Elton recorded at Trident, the best of which have more Tubey Magic than anything that came after
4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “The record remains an ambitious and rewarding work, and John never attained its darkly introspective atmosphere again.”
This Madman is guaranteed to blow your mind.
The amount of effort that went into the recording of this album is comparable to that of the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, The Beatles (of course) and far too many others to list. This is some of the best high production value rock music of the ’70s.(more…)
You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides of this early British import LP – quiet vinyl too
There’s some real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals and plenty of rock and roll energy
I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – the best song Elton’s done in the last 35 years – is killer here
One of engineer Bill Price’s best efforts behind the boards in the ’80s, and Chris Thomas’s production is State of the Art as usual
Allmusic 4 1/2 Stars: “Happily, this is a reunion that works like gangbusters, capturing everybody at a near-peak of their form.”
Much of the production — the smooth, sweet harmony vocals, the rich, grungy guitars, the solid, warm piano — reminds me of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, one of the classics from back in the day when Gus Dudgeon was running the show.
Caribou (1974) and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) have a similarly glossy, perfectionist approach to production as well of course. It was 1975’s Rock of the Westies that went off in another direction.(more…)
Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
Spacious, musical and lifelike, this is a truly superb pressing!
Thanks to Ken Scott’s brilliant engineering and Gus Dudgeon’s production savvy, every song here sounds better than you imagined
4 stars in the AMG: “His most direct, pop-oriented album… a very enjoyable piece of well-crafted pop/rock.”
It’s not easy to find great copies of this album, but this one absolutely nails it! It’s dynamic, energetic and full of tubey magic, and most importantly, the vocals and piano sound JUST RIGHT. The overall sound is rich, smooth, and sweet. (more…)
Hey, they really did a good job with this one. We are going to listen to it again at a later date to see if our initial impressions were correct [I guess by now it should be clear that we are never going to do that, sorry], but it sure sounded good to us when we played it recently during our big GYBR shootout.
I’m guessing no domestic copy can beat it, and certainly no audiophile half-speed mastered pressing can hold a candle to it; those records are pretty awful.(more…)
Another in the long list of Great Albums That You Probably Don’t Know. This record is SHOCKINGLY better than I remember from years back. It’s a knockout, with a great bunch of Elton rockers that still hold up forty years later. It’s much more like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road than it is the two albums that preceded it, Caribou and Captain Fantastic. To these ears it’s a return to form after two misfires.
Caribou is just not a good album on any level; my grade for it would be something in the D range. Captain Fantastic is decent, something along the lines of a B minus: third tier, worth a listen from time to time but not a Must Own by any stretch.
Contrast those two with Rock of the Westies, which clearly deserves to be considered a Must Own, right behind Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, at the bottom of the top tier or atop the second and well ahead of Madman Across the Water and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player.(more…)