Elton John - Takes Off
Steven Sly | Kalamazoo, MI United States | 04/29/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although it is self titled, "Elton John" was actually Elton's second album following "Empty Sky" which had been released the previous year. This was the first album that really put Elton on the map commercially and produced the hits "Border Song" and "Your Song" which remains his traditional live show closer to this day 40 years later. One thing that immediately sticks out on this disc is how heavily orchestrated it is. Almost every track features an orchestral accompaniment which is not necessarily a bad thing, but does tend to date the album a bit. The album contains several tracks that take an almost progressive rock direction especially "Take Me To The Pilot" and the album closer "The King Must Die", both of which are great tracks. It is kind of amusing listening to "60 Years On" today when Elton is indeed in his 60's when the song was written when he was in his 20's. Overall this is a good, but not great Elton John album. It made him a star and contains a lot of good material, but he would do better later."
Elton's american debut
MRT | 12/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If his first album, the low-budget 'Empty Sky' hinted at Elton John's potential, his second ('the black album') well and truly confirmed it and is one of the most significant albums of the early 70s. Its distinctive character derives from the three features which would become Elton's trademark sound in his early albums - his unique vocal delivery, his expressive piano playing, and the use of heavy orchestration. The songs range from tender ballads with baroque influences, to bluesy rock numbers, and the slow but powerful songs for which he is perhaps best known. Only one ('Your song') was a hit record, but many others have become well-established classics of Elton's repertoire (notably 'Border song', 'Take me to the pilot', 'Sixty years on' and 'The king must die'). (Three additional early songs, not originally included on the album, also appear.) Paul Buckmaster's orchestral arrangements on this album might be criticised as being too grandiose and overbearing at times, but they are part of what gives the record its distinctive character and helped to establish Elton as a very individual new talent in his early days. After two further heavily orchestrated albums, his song arrangements became much more stripped-down and conventionally commercial, as can be heard on 'Goodbye yellow brick road', but the black album showcases Elton's raw talent before 'stardom' arrived. A landmark album - but if you like the style of this you should also obtain the subsequent 'Tumbleweed connection' and 'Madman across the water', which are also EJ classics."
One of the Greatest String Arrangement Ever Recorded!
Oded Fried-Gaon | New York City, Tel Aviv | 04/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The writing is interesting, the compositions are incredible, the orchestration and production are stunning, but with all this immense value, the string arrangement are unbelievably beautiful. It was in this recording that i first paid attention to the string section, more closely even then George Martin's Beatles repertoire!
Paul Buckmaster has remained one of my favorite musical icons - up there with Schubert and Chopin and Mingus and Monk. Anything he touches is of vital interest, and should as well be to any music lover/appreciator who wants to be enlightened, educated, lifted...
I had found this album in the trash, along with some other soon-to-be classics in the Classic Rock/Pop genre, and it's by far the highlight of the bunch. what a surprise, and a gift that i've cherished all my life. How someone could part with such vinyls is beyond me, but obviously i was meant to find them there in the dumpster, in the middle of winter, with snowflakes pouring down from the sky. EJ's Tumbleweed Connection release comes a close second (especially Love Song and Talking Old Soldiers), but this - THIS - is Elton John at his finest - poppy, yet strikingly different.
Track 5 (First Episode...) and Track 10 (The King...) are especially recommended!"