Elton John – To Be Continued

Elton John

To Be Continued

MCA/Universal

Out of print due to sticky label legalities for nine years, this relatively comprehensive overview of Elton John’s career from approximately 1965-1990 (actually, only one track dates as far back as 1965, and that wasn’t under John’s name) is a welcome addition to his existing catalog. The package and the graphics haven’t changed since the initial release, but the sound quality has been upgraded to 2000 standards, which still isn’t enough to justify anyone repurchasing the four-disc set. But if you’re a recent John fan, or just want a summary (albeit an extensive and expensive one) of the prolific piano man1s output — including the usual rarities, B-sides, outtakes and unreleased tracks — this is a damn good place to start.

The compilation cherry picks 68 tracks from all of John’s CDs through 1990, and even with 75 minutes average per platter, some albums are only represented by a single song. In the case of Tumbleweed Connection and Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, there is hardly enough to touch on even a handful of their best tunes. The three songs recorded specially for this compilation are acceptable, but don’t match the quality of the rest of the box, let alone anything from the fabulous live 11-17-70, which is totally skipped over here. And some of the obscurities, like the 54-second, solo piano “Cartier,” which sounds like a commercial for the famous jewelers, are simply unnecessary. The album-sized package (the reissue did not reformat this into the now standard slimmer book size) also includes the requisite 36-page tome. It features an interview with John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin that unearths some new information, but isn’t comprehensive enough for the scope of this set.

It’s certainly preferable to buying all — or even most — of John1s individual albums, many of which are spotty at best. Considering the enormous amount of material the compilers had to sift through, the result is an intermittently enjoyable, occasionally enlightening, and always entertaining look into the first 25 years of one of this century’s most enduring pop stars.

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