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Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road super deluxe edition box

gbybr2

Pocket-sized super deluxe edition: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Universal’s recent 40th Anniversary super deluxe edition box set of Elton John‘s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is something of a mixed bag.

Considering this album is Elton’s Band on the Run, his Dark Side Of The Moon, the packaging is a little disappointing. Universal have got us used to relatively lavish sets involving large books, memorabilia and the like. The Who‘s Quadrophenia and Tommy both enjoyed this kind of presentationand the last two Velvet Underground super deluxe sets and virtually everything by Eric Clapton were also what you might broadly term ‘luxurious’. But Goodbye Yellow Brick Road isn’t. It comes in a small-ish 8″x 6″ box which contains a Ladybird-sized hardcover book and the five discs (4CDs+CD) within. These boxes are familiar enough, since Universal have used them regularly in the last few years for the likes of T. Rex (Electric Warrior), Tears For Fears (The Hurting) and Level 42 (Running In The Family), but something is wrong when a solid gold rock classic like GBYBR is packaged on a par with the recent Ocean Colour Scene Marchin’ Already set!

To be fair, the book is very good with decent notes, great reproduction of David Larkham and Michael Ross’s original lyric illustrations and some superb archive photography (including photos of Elton’s stage outfits), but why so small? We’ve criticised big books in the past for being basically pointless (step forward, The Rolling StonesGRRR!) but this book is certainly not that, it just needed to be done on a grander scale, to make the most of the illustrations and photos. This certainly doesn’t come close to the exemplary McCartney deluxe volumes or The Who books.

The overall design is certainly attractive and in keeping with the original release but the card sleeves are wafter thin (no gatefolds) and shrink-wrapped to within an inch of their lives. The only way to get into the damn things without creasing or bending the top corners is to get a razor sharp scalpel and – carefully – run the blade along the top edge. Disappointing.

With one notable exception (more on that later) the actual audio/video content is great. The highlight is Elton John Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, a December 1973 gig across two CDs. Elton’s in fine voice and the performances are note-perfect. It’s charming to hear a freshly-minted Candle In The Wind (“this is a song about Marilyn Monroe”) without the baggage, and the ‘greatest hits’ that would serve him well for the next four decades (Daniel, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock etc.) are all present and correct.

There’s not much to say about the album itself other than it’s back on one disc having been originally issued across two CDs. That was then superseded by a one disc remaster and ten years ago for the 30th anniversary, the hybrid SACD switched back to two! The Bryan Forbes documentary on the DVD (Elton John And Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye To Norma Jean and Other Things) scores highly for the nostalgia factor, having been made in 1972/3.

It’s the bonus disc (CD2) that is the runt of the litter here with the album ‘revisited’ by a series of contemporary acts doing cover versions. What can you say to such folly? If I want to hear Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy or Emeli Sande I’ll buy their records, thanks very much. I buy Elton John releases to hear Elton John, not so that “Miguel, featuring Wale” can aurally vomit over Bennie and the Jets. This should have been a Mojo cover mount CD to promote the product not part of the actual product itself.

The compact size has at least kept this super deluxe edition box of GBYBR affordable. If you’re a fan, the £40 price tag will probably ‘allow’ you to buy this for the nth time. It’s just about worth it, although why the flamboyant Mr. John didn’t push the boat out and create something with true ‘wow’ factor for his best-loved work remains a mystery.

The 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is out now.


Super Deluxe Edition 4CD+DVD

Pure Audio / Blu-ray Audio

2LP Vinyl Edition

2CD Deluxe



Super Deluxe Track listing (discs 1 & 2 only for 2CD Deluxe)

Disc One:

  1. Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
  2. Candle In The Wind
  3. Bennie And The Jets
  4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  5. This Song Has No Title
  6. Grey Seal
  7. Jamaica Jerk Off
  8. I’ve Seen that Movie Too
  9. Sweet Painted Lady
  10. The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)
  11. Dirty Little Girl
  12. All the Girls Love Alice
  13. Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock’n’Roll)
  14. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
  15. Roy Rogers
  16. Social Disease
  17. Harmony

Disc Two:

  1. Candle In The Wind – Ed Sheeran (3:22)
  2. Bennie and the Jets – Miguel (5:10)
  3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Hunter Hayes (3:15)
  4. Grey Seal – The Band Perry (3:48)
  5. Sweet Painted Lady – John Grant (3:58)
  6. All The Girls Love Alice – Emili Sande (3:40)
  7. Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock And Roll) – Imelda May (2:51)
  8. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Fall Out Boy (3:42)
  9. Harmony – Zac Brown Band (2:55)
  10. Grey Seal (piano demo) – Elton John (3:20)
  11. Grey Seal (1970 Original) – Elton John (3:37)
  12. Jack Rabbit – Elton John (1:51)
  13. Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady) – Elton John (2:52)
  14. Screw You (Young Man Blues) – Elton John (4:43)
  15. Candle In The Wind (Acoustic) – Elton John (3:52)
  16. Step Into Christmas – Elton John (4:10)
  17. Ho Ho Ho (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas?) (4:04)
  18. Philadelphia Freedom – Elton John (5:21)
  19. Pinball Wizard – Elton John (5:15)

Disc 3: BBC Elton John Hammersmith Odeon 22nd December 1973

  1. Funeral For A Friend
  2. Love Lies Bleeding
  3. Candle In The Wind
  4. Hercules
  5. Rocket Man
  6. Bennie And The Jets
  7. Daniel
  8. This Song Has No Title
  9. Honky Cat

Disc 4: BBC Elton John Hammersmith Odeon 22nd December 1973

  1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  2. The Ballad Of Danny Bailey
  3. Elderberry Wine
  4. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  5. I’ve Seen That Movie Too
  6. All The Girls Love Alice
  7. Crocodile Rock
  8. Your Song
  9. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

DVD Disc 5:

  • Bryan Forbes’ 1973 film Elton John and Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye To Norma Jean and Other Things (45 minutes)

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21 responses to Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road super deluxe edition box

  1. Simon says:

    Hmm, I am a fan and I already have this on vinyl and CD. Certainly not enough here to make me fork over my birthday cash…

    Are there any plans for other Elton albums to get the treatment? I’d love a deluxe Blue Moves…

  2. Justin says:

    I have ordered this from Amazon, and it’s on its way to Australia…all for less than $50 AU. To be honest, disc 2 will probably only be removed so I can rip it to iTunes, then back into its case where it will remain.

    The HFPA 5.1 blu-ray is the one I’m really excited about. I don’t have an SACD player at the moment, so can’t wait to hear the album in surround again.

  3. Wayne says:

    This album is a favourite of mine so I am in line despite having the CD, SACD and DVD-A. I will also buy the HFPA disc but it really should have been included in this box. What can I say? The labels love suckers like me!

  4. Baward says:

    I have just received this through the post and I agree, it’s slightly underwhelming. I would have thought this album deserves better – as well as appearing 40 years on, rather that 41…

    Paul, do you have an all-time favourite box set (irrespective of whether it’s Elton John or not)?

  5. Richard Harris says:

    To be fair to Universal (did I really just say that?) the U2 Joshua Tree box was of the same size as this. I personally prefer more manageably sized ones such as this, rather than the Achtung Baby one which was like a paving slab that I could have used to make a patio.

    Enjoying the live discs and agree re the pointless cover versions. Can never get tired of Philadelphia Freedom but not sure why it and Pinball Wizard are on here. PF would surely be better suited timescale wise to a deluxe Caribou if they did one.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Certainly more manageable. I think Universal probably regret not doing something ‘bigger’ for The Joshua Tree and as a reaction to that they went mad with Achtung Baby! Agree about Pinball Wizard.

  6. Andy says:

    Has anybody bought the HFPA Blu-ray version and got any comments about it?

  7. Mychael says:

    The track “Whenever You’re Ready” has a bit of applause at the start – it seems Universal did not use the (already remastered) original B-side from previous editions, but a tape from an old vinyl/cassette compilation (‘Lady Samantha’, where the track fades in from a live recording). Not very deluxe.

  8. My Jelly says:

    I have numerous copies of GBYB the best sounding is the Mobile Fidelity version which just contains the original track listing. I paid £30 for the 40th Anniversary Box Set when it was first advertised by Amazon UK. The box itself is a handy dvd bookshelf size that looks good on display. The disappointment is when you actually open it. All discs are housed in thin cardboard sleeves. The contents of the tribute cd is utter tripe I skipped through all the tracks which were unbearable save for ‘Your sister can’t twist but she can Rock & Roll’ by Imelda May which fitted her genre. The hatchet job on some of the tracks is just unforgivable who are these performers?. A real lost opportunity when retrospective tracks could have been used by artists such as Sandy Denny & Kate Bush who both have covered ‘Candle in the Wind’.
    The real treasure in this box set is the ‘Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973′ concert spread over two cds which is absolutely superb quality especially ‘I’ve seen this Movie too’ a rare outing for a classic song. The Bryan Forbes documentary on dvd brought back found memories and is of value to true fans. I think it’s high time EJ gave the ‘green light’ to the BBC releasing various sets of live concerts and sessions from their archives, something of interest not substandard tributes by unknowns.

  9. hedley says:

    And this is why we read SDE – Excellent review Paul, thank you

    On Hammersmith, did they include Elton announcing that he has an awful cold ?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Hedley… I don’t think that is in there. Apparently he mentioned something about football before “Daniel”, but that’s been chopped too!

  10. Michel says:

    Box is fine by me (ordered it for 30 GBP) Love the version Of Alice by Emile Sande although i also agree that these songs are NOT supposed to be in this box. About the size…. Well if we had a box like Tommy or Quadrophenia we had an extra large book and of course the double vinyl in it. Meaning the prize wouild be easily 90 GBP or more. So again this size and price is fine by me.

  11. david robinson says:

    Another who won’t be buying it, especially as your paying basically for the live discs and covers. (everything else having been already released at one point.)

    Specific points –

    As some have mentioned Philadelphia Freedom doesn’t belong.

    The DVD has also been edited from the original release.

    I know there were no demo’s from this era (which is probably why the covers were included) but extra live versions (even a Goodbye Yellow Brisk Road live with a version of each track live would have been preferable)

  12. baward says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the ‘tribute’ CD is the only one which will remain unopened of this set! What were they thinking, etc.? Checked out once on Spotify, forever more to not trouble my ears…

    Pretty hard to beat the Paramount Records box set of the millennium, I suppose: http://www.superdeluxeedition.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-paramount-records-volume-one-lavish-box/

    Ben

  13. Steve says:

    Just wondering why most reviews I see on the net for “new super duper deluxe re-mastered box sets”, only talk about how they look and the content, not what the re-mastered sound is like. Do most people only look at these things , is it just me who plays them ?

  14. Ranasakawa says:

    It it had included the BluRay in the box, with the same price I ‘may’ have brought it.

  15. bob says:

    This is part of an interview with the people behind the deluxe edition taken from the BBC website.

    TONY KING: The record company wanted to put out a 40th anniversary album but we weren’t too sure how to go about it. I said to Elton, “the thing is, you don’t have any tracks in the vault”. And so he came up with the idea of getting people to cover the album.

    PETER ASHER: Of course I said “yes” [to producing the album] because it’s such a brilliant opportunity to rethink these legendary songs.

    TONY KING: Initially we had the idea of doing big stars, but of course all the big stars were busy doing their albums. And I’m glad for that now – because we were able to craft something that felt much more personal. It feels curated.

  16. Herb says:

    As far as unreleased demos and stuff goes Elton was on the Howard stern show a long time ago talking about the Lennon box and said no way to issuing that stuff. He ripped Yoko apart for that. Besides the jackets being cheap, I wish it came in an lp type jacket, like the beatles mono set. Other thing I wish they used were the original mca label black with the rainbow. Universal has never used that label on any reissue that I’ve gotten from them. The closest they came was on the who’s next double deluxe edition and that was only black and white. Also no text on the discs.

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