TVD Class of ’75 | Elton John "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy"

Our pal Jeff from AM, Then FM returns this morning with another dip into our favorite bag o’ nostalgia. —Ed.

Elton John has, of late, been enjoying a small renaissance of sorts at certain lightly traveled corners of the Internet.

Our friend JB at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, recently wrote about the memorable last cut from John’s 1975 album, “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.”

That came about the same time I saw John play live. After that show, in which he played nothing from “Captain Fantastic,” I weighed in at The Midnight Tracker, serving up Side 2 of that album.

“Captain Fantastic” came out just as I graduated from high school in 1975. It’s all about writing, telling the story of how John and lyricist Bernie Taupin struggled as they got started in London in the ’60s. That was pretty appealing to a kid who wanted to be a writer.

Last week, our friends at Popdose put some of John’s overlooked gems in their “Greatest Bits” feature. I thought sure there would be something from “Captain Fantastic,” but no.

So have you heard it? No? Perhaps that’s because “Captain Fantastic,” released at the peak of John’s early fame in late May 1975—a record that debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. charts—yielded just one single: “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

It’s time you listen to some of what is widely considered to be one of Elton John’s best albums.

To “Bitter Fingers,” about young guys trying to break free from dead-end gigs. To “Better Off Dead,” which snaps off one vivid image after another (and which I still haven’t fully figured out after 35 years). To “Curtains,” that memorable last cut, one a young JB feared was John saying goodbye to the music business.

Elton John – Bitter Fingers (Mp3)
Elton John – Better Off Dead (Mp3)
Elton John – Curtains (Mp3)

Buy Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy here. The link is to a 1996 CD release that is remastered and contains three extra tracks. Two of the extra tracks — “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Philadelphia Freedom” — were released as singles in 1974 and 1975, respectively. A 2005 release also remastered, has two CDs with six extra tracks and a live performance of the original album at Wembley Stadium in London in 1975.

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  • Michael

    I have mixed feelings about Elton's output in general, but what's this I hear about him providing the entertainment at Rush Limbaugh's 4th wedding? How does that work? How do they end up in the same sphere?

  • Jon

    Yea…I gotta admit …Elton at Rush's wedding is a head scratcher. Big time.

  • Anonymous

    Some excellent songs in the 70s and Empty Garden from '82 is great. One of the first 45s I ever bought (for 99 cents at Boscov's) was Crocodile Rock. Unless you are into Broadway musicals, though, I can't see how one would think his output of the last 20 years or so has any relevance. Moreover, the Sir Elton of today often comes off like a raving maniac. I read he got $1 million for the Rush gig. Maybe he'll donate it to charity?Noah

  • D B

    The last two albums, "Peachtree Road" and "The Captain & The Kid" are great, no trace of the musicals, just top writing and performance.

  • WarmWind

    "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" is Elton John's autobiographical magnum opus, and it my favorite record of all time.Just sayin'


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