We heard “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” on the radio yesterday and so today I pulled out the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to give it a listen. The 1973 classic by Elton John still remains his greatest accomplishment, and in 2014 – a year late in celebrating the album’s 40th anniversary – the two-record set was reissued as both a deluxe CD box set and an amazingly great sounding 2LP set. I picked up both at the time but this vinyl edition is one you ought to hunt down. Issued on special yellow vinyl for the first 1700 copies (peculiar amount, don’t you think?), GYBR is pressed on 180-gram vinyl in the EU and benefits from a beautiful mastering job courtesy of legend Doug Sax and Robert Hadley at The Mastering Lab. The instruments come through nice and clear, without hiss and high-end sizzle (as you might hear on percussion such as shakers or high hats) and with solid bass (for the era – they didn’t mix it as loud back then as we do now). The album cover is as it was for the original US pressing, in a triple gatefold configuration with all the song lyrics, cool illustrations for each song and pictures of the band members. You can still find this pressing in stores or online, though I imagine the colored vinyl is out of stock, and if you’re as big a fan of this album as I am, you should pick it up.
Now on to my big observation. Back in the ’70s, for double albums, they pressed the sets with sides one and four on the first record and sides two and three on the second, so if you had a record changer you could stack the records and have the sides play in the correct order. (For you younger folk, record one/side one plays first, then record two/side two drops and plays next; you then take the records off the spindle and flip them over together, put them back on and then record two/side three plays, followed by record one/side four. Brilliant, huh?) Sometime in the ’80s they started putting sides one/two and three/four together, as record changer use had fallen by the wayside and it wouldn’t make sense to split the sides the way they used to. Nowadays those old two record sets are novel because of their side pairings. But I got to thinking: I wonder if sides one and four are my favorites from GYBR because they were paired together on the same record and I was too lazy back then to shuttle the records to and fro to play them in the right order, meaning the songs on sides two and three were played less often because they were on the other record, or if I prefer sides one and four because they have the best songs on them. I mean, “Dirty Little Girl,” “Grey Seal,” “The Ballad of Danny Bailey” and the title track are all great songs and they all appear on sides two and three. But the aforementioned “Funeral for a Friend,” as well as “Bennie and the Jets,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Roy Rogers” and “Harmony” are all on sides one or four…
Perhaps you think I have too much time on my hands. And perhaps you’re right.
5/5 (Mercury/Universal Music [originally MCA])
Please enjoy Elton John lip syncing the title track on Top of the Pops from 1973: