Monday, June 30, 2008

Classic Elton John Reissued

Typically we here at H.A.D. tend to shy away from the "reissue" market: it seems like a never ending effort to repackage albums with a single bonus track, and then milk some cash out of the diehard fans (yes, Elvis Costello, we're looking at you). Elton John's catalogue has been middle-of-the-road in terms of it's reissue status. There were a few superfluous reissues on Polydor in the early 90's, but the "Classic Years" reissues that followed actually packed quite a punch: remastered by original producer Gus Dudgeon (before his untimely death), the discs sounded great and came with a nice tag on of 3-4 bonus tracks a piece. They were, it seemed, really the defacto representation of John's amazing early seventies career-defining output.

The more recent reissues in the Elton John catalogue have seemed to reenforce this: both the Captain Fantastic and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reissues have been short on new material, and heavy on repackaging. So, it was with no small amount of surprise that we stumbled upon the reissues of Elton John and Tumbleweed Connection. Released at the beginning of June, the discs each come with a huge amount of bonus material, including unreleased demos, new tracks, and BBC sessions. Moreover, the recording sessions for these two records were the beginning of John's killer 70's combo that would go on to dominate pop music for the next six years. Getting to hear what the demos and alternate takes for these sessions sound like is like getting a private view into John's massively prolific writing style.

If you're already a fan, then these releases are a no brainer. On the other hand, if you're a skeptic whose biggest familiarity with John is The Lion King, then frankly, this would be a good place to start.