There’s a timelessness to Elton John’s 1973 magnum opus that assures its place in pop’s pantheon of classic albums. Thoroughly modern upon release, yet traditional in its narratives, ‘GYBR’ remains a penetrative and gratifying listening experience.
This expanded reissue, which celebrates the original’s 40th anniversary, upholds that claim with a bonus disc of its songs covered by contemporary artists. Enjoyment may be determined more by your opinions of the names present – Ed Sheeran folkifies ‘Candle In The Wind’; Fall Out Boy reinforce the rock in ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’; Miguel accentuates the R&B roots of ‘Bennie And The Jets. But as an exercise in paying homage, it succeeds in exalting the many musical directions in which the album’s pervading influence spread.
Other treats within the box set include a two-disc live performance recorded at Hammersmith Odeon in December ’73, which presents the album’s key tracks alongside recent singles ‘Daniel’ and ‘Rocket Man’; a disc of demos, alternative versions, and rarities; and a 45-minute DVD reprising Bryan Forbes’ stellar 1973 documentary, Elton John And Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye To Norma Jean And Other Things. It’s a fascinating insight into a pair of creative minds at the peak of their productivity.
A glittering glam-pop bounty of androgynous pop bots, dock prostitutes, Depression-era outlaws, cowboys and nun-baiting schoolgirls, ‘GYBR’ remains a vital and versatile vision of brilliance that deserves to be heard.
Words: Simon Harper
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Elton John was guest editor of Clash issue 92. More information on that, here.
Listen to the 30th anniversary version of ‘GYBR’ on Deezer…