Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
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Product Description

Elton John has always liked having it both ways. He's flamboyant and vain, yet empathetic and sincere. He sits at his piano playing sentimental melodies, but the words come not from inside his soul but from friend Bernie Taupin. For Captain Fantastic, he and Taupin wrote a concept album which sketches their career together. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is easily the strongest song outside of the concept. The addition of several songs "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" featuring John Lennon, "Philadelphia Freedom," and "One Day at a Time" blow the concept but up the entertainment value considerably. --Rob O'Connor

Customer Reviews:

  • His best? I don't agree!
    While I loved 3 of the songs, the title track, Someone Saved my Life Tonight, of course, and Tower of Babel, I couldn't get through the rest. I gave a star for each of the 3 good ones. Buy Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Goodbye Yellow brick Road, or even Songs From The
    West Coast instead....more info
  • A great 70's album
    It starts off with a great folk song which contains elements of pop, the title track. The guitar is good. The song is abotu Elton and Bernie. Then there is tower of babel, well, Jesus does save the guys in the tower of Babel but the music is quite good, but my favourites come after it. Bitter Fingers sounds like a theme from a superhero movie and fits in with the albums concept very well, one fo my fave songs of Elton. It's actually about Bernie's lyrics. Tell me when the whistle blows is good slow blues and has great guitar. Someone saved my life tonight is a great pop-ballad, nice melody. Meal Ticket is a heaps fun rocker and then there's Better off dead, it sounds a bit like album filler to me but it's cute and lovable. Writing is a great acoustic guitar ballad, and has an exquisite melody. The sond is about Berni's love of writing music. We all fall in love sometimes is a wonderful ballad, reminiscent of Sorry seems to be... but has great guitar, an amazing vocal chorus at the end and is just beautiful. Curtains is a nice ballad where he is remembering his childhood. Lovely. All in all, one of his best albums....more info
  • Elton John - The Story Of Elton And Bernie's Early Days In The Music Business
    For me this is probably Elton's last great album. The rest of the 70's, 80's, 90's, and 00's would find him putting out rather inconsistent material that although having high points never was as cohesive as this, or his previous couple of albums. "Captain Fantastic" is a concept album that tells the story of Elton and Bernie's early years and their rise to fame and fortune. The album only contained one hit single, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" which to my ears ranks up with the very best songs the duo ever wrote together. It remains a great song and one that I never tire of. The rest of the album tells the story from the opening title track to the closer "Curtains" chronicling the duos highs and lows trying to make it in the music business of the late 60's and early 70's. The album has held up remarkable well, with only the disco-ish "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" sounding overly dated. The period between 1970 and 1975 were the nadir of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's creative output and "Captain Fantastic" would prove to be the end of an era for the duo. Second only to "Yellow Brick Road" in the Elton John catalogue "Captain Fantastic" is an essential Elton album. ...more info
  • Great artwork album
    This album was released in June 1975 and represented the culmination of famous pianist Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin's shared vision of the art of songwriting. The content is all based on their life experiences together as aspiring young musicians from 1967 (when they were first introduced to each other through a music press advertisement) to 1970 (when after several hard years of "paying his dues", Elton's career suddenly took off) and weaves a story from beginnings (We All Fall In Love Sometimes) through disappointments, rejections and frustration in the "Tin Pan Alley" that was the late 60's world of the London music business (Bitter Fingers, Gotta Get A Meal Ticket) to the process of creating art itself (Writing) to the closer Curtains where they look back nostalgically to their very first compositions together (referring to "Scarecrow" and "A Dandelion Dies In The Wind" etc.). Elton is "Captain Fantastic" and Bernie is the "Brown Dirt Cowboy" of the album's title, and this is all explained in the title track. The best-known song here is the US hit Someone Saved My Life Tonight- a tale of Elton's exit from an unsuitable engagement backed with a great tune and impassioned singing. The album set new records for instant popularity when first issued amidst the tidal wave of mass support Elton enjoyed during the mid 70's, but it is not really a "pop" record as such. Along with 1973's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, it is the best example of the partnership of Elton and Bernie at their creative best - producing a themed set of great songs that continue to be listened to and enjoyed to this day. Here, the songs were personal stories and therefore the standard of production and the lavish artwork of the cover and gatefold sleeve of the LP were of the highest order. My favourite song here is We All Fall In Love Sometimes, which is about the simple joy of finding a (platonic) soulmate to share one's thoughts and feelings with. It has a lovely piano melody.

    The album is really good.

    The new CD version comes with the inclusion of two thematically-incompatible bonus hits that do not have anything to do with the Captain Fantastic autobiographical idea that links the other 10 tracks. Elton's 1974 version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is terrific, as is the 1975 single Philadelphia Freedom, but as these were single-only 7" tracks not on an album, they would be best heard as part of a Greatest Hits album rather than tacked onto this album. Try to find the original CD of this with just the 10 original tracks if you can....more info
  • Sweet Chocolate Biscuits
    Taking the CD of this work from Elton out of it's case, or pulling out your old record, or popping in your old tape cassette of it and pushing play, is like opening up Elton and Bernie's official scrapbook of their lives and career up to the point that this album was released, which was May of 1975. This was Elton's 9th studio album in 6 years, not counting live albums and other such miscellaneous type releases, and while one might of thought the well would of run dry after such a long period of time of pumping out one product after the other, Elton and Bernie released one of their deepest, in depth, and personal albums of their entire careers. However, the well did run dry not too long after this release, with work not up to shape in the late 70's and so on. This release, to me, is the most complete and sincere Elton John album. He's written songs from a personal angel after this, but not such a full and magical and autobiographical album like this. The title track, has a rustic, country swing to it, but turns into a thumping up tempo song later on. It tells basically, how Elton is the super slick city guy(the Captain), and Bernie is the kid still learning and growing from being a farm kid(the brown dirt cowboy). From here on, the rest of the album has the most natural flow and consistency of any Elton John album produced. It goes into more of the music side of their lives with "Tower Of Babel", and one of the best songs on the disc, "Bitter Fingers", which has an insanely catchy chorus that goes "I'm sick of all these tra la la's and fa de da's". Classic Elton. "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows", is a funky 70's jam that is one of the best songs Elton and Bernie have written in that kind of 70's funk vein. Two songs on the disc deal with the hardships and struggle of getting into and making it in the music business. The super charged rocker, "Gotta Get A Meal Ticket", is pretty much self explanatory with the title alone. The other, "Better Off Dead", with it's dark, macabre lyrics, and jaunty piano thumping, is a standout track that is also the darkest, albeit still with a toe thumping piano tune, track on the album. A favorite of mine. The song, "Writing", is also pretty much self explanatory, while the ballad, "We All Fall In Love Sometimes", is one of the best John-Taupin ballads that wasn't a hit, or a single, but should of been. I have saved the best for last. The 5th track, and the only single released, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". A deeply personal track(that hit #6 on the charts), that dealt with Elton's attempted suicide and Bernie saving him. Elton was engaged to Linda Woodrow, albeit not willingly, and decided to end it all instead of getting out of it. He stuck his head in the oven and even laid a pillow in it for his head. Bernie found him and pulled him out. It wasn't a huge life saver, since all the windows in the kitchen in the flat they were staying in were all open at the time!!. Nonetheless, that chapter in their lives is all there in the song. A classic Elton gem. Producer Gus Dudgeon was back on board producing the album, and as always, his work was pure magic and brilliance. This album was not just another hit for Elton, but it made music history. It was the first album in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard Album Charts. All previous #1 albums up to this point charted lower, and climbed to the top spot, but Elton and this album were the first to debut at #1. What a historic thing. There you have it. An album that is probably one of the top 2 quintessential Elton releases. The other being "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" of course. What would be really great, is for Elton and Bernie to do another album like this that could chronicle their lives and careers since the release of this album. That would be great!. I doubt it will happen the way they did it with this album, but with Elton just recently announcing that he will be back in the studio this month recording a new CD for a tentative September 2004 release date, you just never know. Captain Fantastic indeed!....more info
  • Thank God my gag reflex is still alive
    If there's anything that drives me up the goddam wall, it's self-referential musicians who write first-person song-lyrics about musicians. And that's what The Unendurable Bernie did in SOMEONE SHAVED MY WIFE TONIGHT. With that hideous self-congratulatory line: "Thank God my music's still alive". This tune is also notable for Elton's hilarious high-camp enunciation of the word "dammit"....more info
  • Great Album...
    For those of us that came of age in the early 80's..... this album brings back bittersweet memories........... this album is.....well....Fantastic......more info
  • An Album of Great Poetry From Start to Finish...
    Two words can sum up the quality of this album- PURE POETRY.

    This mid-70's effort shows how phenomenal a songwriting team Elton John and Bernie Taupin really are (makes you wonder why Elton got it into his head to put the partnership on hold during the late 70's and early 80's). Whenever I listen to this album, I always find myself amazed at the poetry Bernie came up with when he and Elton were working on this. I can't think of one track on the album when some aspect of the lyrics wasn't poetic. Elton also does a great job of interpreting Bernie's lyrics.

    The title track could easily be the beginning of a story. When Elton sings it, he sounds as if he's reading from the first few pages of a book. The imagery is great too ('For there's weak-winged young sparrows that starve in the winter, broken young children on the wheels of the winners...'). "Tower Of Babel" could be part of a collection of written poetry. It would be great even if it weren't set to music. I still haven't figured out what it's about, but I love it! The only way to describe "We All Fall In Love Sometimes" is gorgeous. This song is superb, poetically, musically, and vocally. "Curtains", the last track, is, in my opinion, the must poetic song on here. The imagery is fantastic. Elton's vocals and the instrumentation add a very mystical, almost psychedelic quality to it. It's definitely an excellent way to close an album.

    The tracks that make up the middle of the album ("Bitter Fingers", "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows", "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", and "Gotta Get A Meal Ticket"), like the title track, are songs in which Bernie's lyrics and Elton's ability to interpret them really come together well. In "Bitter Fingers," Elton's vocals really convey the frustration that I imagine all musicians (and artists in general) feel during the early years of their careers. The feeling Elton puts into singing "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is marvelous. You really get a feeling of desperation from him (much of which, I think, was because this song hit very close to home, being that he did actually try to commit suicide once). Elton's interpretations of "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" and "Gotta Get a Meal Ticket" are also great .These also happen to be two of my favorite tracks on the album. I really like the bluesy, jazzy feeling of "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows", and "Gotta Get A Meal Ticket" is a great rocker. "Writing" is the other track on this album that I absolutely love. You get the impression that both Bernie (in his lyrics) and Elton (in his interpretation) really enjoy working together.

    I would definitely call this one of Elton's best albums . It would certainly go high up on my top 10 list (possibly even above Rock of The Westies, even though I love that album, too). If you haven't heard it yet, I seriously recommend it!...more info

  • From the end of the world to your town!
    It took me years to realize that this is a concept album about Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin's days before and after becoming songwriting partners. On a trivial note, this album went platinum the day of its release and I remember my sister getting a copy as a graduation present (the cover was quite unique and impressive with 2 booklets, one featuring the lyrics with photos of young Elton and Bernie in the late 1960's and the other featuring more photos, chart history, the history of Elton John and his band in cartoon form and early pictures of guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsonn). The opening track sports a C&W feel with some fine acoustic picking from Davey Johnstone. Elton, of course, is Captain Fantastic, "hardly a hero, just someone his mother might know." Bernie, of course, is the Brown Dirt Cowboy, "still green and growing." 2 rockers "Bitter Fingers" and "Meal Ticket" deal with the struggles of survival and Elton and Bernie trying to make it as songwriters. "Better Off Dead" almost sounds dispairing in its lyrics, while "Tower of Babel" speaks of the struggles using religious wordplay. Bernie still yearns for his native countryside in the "Tell Me When the Whistle Blows" (featuring a R&B style string arrangement by Gene Page). On "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," Elton nearly commits suicide over a lover who demands he give up his musical aspirations for her (had he consented, he'd be the late Reginald Dwight who once wrote music for Bernie Taupin's poems). The folky "Writing" sports some fine harmonies and Latino jazz, followed by the melancholy "We All Fall in Love Sometimes." "Curtains" is the moody finale, with references from some of Bernie's original poems. Added to this CD form are the 1975 hit "Philadelphia Freedom" (not on the original LP) and 2 John Lennon songs "Lucy in the Sky.." and "One Day at a Time." Both of the latter feature the late John Lennon who Elton would become friends with. This is one of the last times the vintage Elton John Band of Davey, Dee and Nigel would be together....more info
  • Welcome back Cap'n Fantastic
    This is one of my favorite albums of Elton John. It is nice to have it back in my collection....more info
  • My Favorite Elton John Album
    "Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy" has always been my favorite Elton John album, simply because it's one of the few albums that could be described as perfect. There is not a single clunker on this whole album, and the production is flawless.

    Kicking off with the comforting and sophistsicated acoustic pickings of the title track, which depicts Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin as cowboys and the record company executives who rejected their early material as bandits who they must defeat before riding off into the sunset. "Tower Of Babel" and "Bitter Fingers" are two more denouncing diatribes against the music industry that are very good tracks, and "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" features an eloquent orchestral arrangement by Gene Wood, who arranged some of Barry White's biggest hits in the early to mid '70s'. Next comes one of Elton's best - known and most - loved compositions. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is a true classic with its simple, haunting piano intro, strong percussion, and Beach Boys - like harmonies on the tag. "Gotta Get A Meal Ticket" is a strong rocker featuring a screaming guitar intro. This is followed by the simple, almost funny "Better Off Dead", which preceeds my favorite track, "Writing". This perfectly sums up the way Bernie and Elton write a song. Following this is the luscious "We All Fall In Love Sometimes", which perfectly sums up the relationship between Elton and his faithful companion Bernie. Lastly, there's the haunting "Curtains", which denounces the early songs that they wrote together.

    Like all of Elton's '70s' reissues, this one has several bonus tracks added. Included are two of the three number one hits he scored in 1975, the soulful "Philadelphia Freedom" and his superb cover of "Lucy Sky In The Diamonds" featuring John Lennon singing and playing guitar. Also included is "One Day At A Time", a beautiful song that Elton recorded with Lennon that was included on Lennon's "Mind Games" album.

    Overall, this is an excellent album that captures Elton in his prime. It also marked the end of his creative energy. Although he scored one more number one album ("Rock Of The Westies"), things were never the same after this album was released. As a matter of fact, it would be 20 years before Elton would release an album of this merit again....more info

  • Music sounds better when it comes from the heart
    Luis Mejia (son) - Elton John released this album in 1975, and regarding it was a shocking change, this albums represents the most beautifully versatile and light popcraft Elton John ever released, possessing the most personal and thoughtful conceptual set of songs. Keeping a structure of delightful pop with an elegant soft rock, this albums remains as one of my greatest favorites, specially because of how comprehensive and light the composition of each track is done. Elton John goes personal in this album, and if you are going to talk about your and your bandmates' history, isn't that a precise formula for spectacular concentration and fearful effort? It all starts with the title song, a joyful conceptual song, which spins around Davey's acoustic guitar, about Elton and Taupin early beginnings. The dramatically humourous Tower Of Babel surely will put a smile in the listener's face, or the catchy, mellodic tune in Bitter Fingers with its delightful electric piano light introduction and faded electric guitar. The urban selective sound in Tell Me When The Whistle Blows, its a remarkable highlight. But after all here is one of my long time favorites from among pop genre, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, with its majestic instrumentation and the fragile emotion in the song will keep a soul calm from the start to the end. The rock and roll sound of (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket, the short but joyful, serene Better Off Dead and the country flavoured but delicate and conceptual Writting are awesome, even when they stand a little bit like interlude songs the instrumentation and the mellodies are explosive. Going through the end, We All Fall In Love Sometimes is one of my favorite balladry songs, specially because of the fact that almost any song with harpischord and specially A.R.P. synthesizer sounds like heaven to me, later connecting with Curtains, a light balladry full of emotions, a very beautiful composition, although I think is made too long. Among the bonus tracks, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is maybe the greatest interpretation of this song, and One Day At A Time is another wonderful interpretation. Even just looking at the artwork is recognized the imagery, creativity and fantastic compositions concentrated in this album, the front cover is one of my favorites. Captain Fantastic focuses on a fantastic light popcraft comprehensible and notorious to any listener, I recommend it to anyone with inclinnations toward uncompromising, beautiful music....more info
  • Very Good
    Elton has some masterful songs here. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Tower of Babel" are two of the best on this CD.

    The only reason this gets a four star rating is there are 3-4 poorly produced songs on this collection that could have been made a lot better....more info

  • WAAAAAAAAY overrated... gotta love the hits, though
    Let's see, this one's got a self-indulgent concept (Elton and Bernie's rise to fame), painfully campy cover art, a title that seems to have been dreamed up from a parody of a '50s superhero radio show, a couple of glitzy, Vegas-like rockers ("Meal Ticket"; "Better off Dead"), a few melodramatic ballads ("Writing"; "Curtains"; "Bitter Fingers", with an awful synthesizer part). And yet, if you can look past all that, if you go in expecting something less than a full-on confessional masterpiece, you might find plenty of interest here: the majestically overdone ballad "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" was the hit, and there's more where that came from ("We all Fall in Love Sometimes"). The folksy, down-home title song actually does have a bunch of strong imagery about the duo's roots; "Tower of Babel" has a killer guitar part; "When the Whistle Blows", a strong vocal. Among the bonus tracks are two #1's: the disco-till-you-drop "Philadelphia Freedom", which is a lot better than it sounds, and a disgraceful cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", featuring John Lennon on backup vocals. ...more info
  • The best Elton John album ever!
    Being a prog-rock diehard I do not make the above claim lightly. Elton and Bernie are in rare form on this one, perhaps due to the personal nature of the material. I am lucky to also own this on vinyl thanks to my folks who bought it in '75. The blend of songwriting, lyrics, production, and arrangements make this a fluid and enveloping listening experience. It is difficult to comment on individual tunes although I do particularly like the title track and "Writing". An added bonus is the involvement of David Hentschel (check out his production work with Genesis). The arrangements are excellent with a diverse smattering of instrumentation and the mandatory (and sometimes slightly out-of-tune) background vocals from his band.

    Elton has a long list of amazing songs and buying several of his other CDs to pick out a good one here and there leads me back to the seamless consistency of "Captain Fantastic". The artwork is among my top 3 favourite album covers--worth picking up at a used record store just to look at. Get out your headphones, lie down on the floor, close your eyes, and enjoy......more info

  • The Story of their lives in song
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin closed the chapter of their peak years by writing a song cycle about how they got there. "Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy" put away the glitter and the costumes and painted an austere portrait of the artists in their hungry years. By reigning in the excess and making many of the songs modest and sincere, "Captain Fantastic" gave fans of Elton the best of both worlds. The simpler storytelling of the earlier part of Elton's career was matched to the increasing confidence of his and Bernie's songwriting. While there was no glammy-hit with catchy chorus to be found on this album, it is easily the most consistent work of their glory days. It even made history by becoming the very first album to enter the charts at number one.

    It is also the most sentimental of Elton's albums. The humble beginnings are underscored by the title track, and the orchestrated original closer of "Curtains/We All Fall In Love Sometimes" is beautifully done. The late Producer Gus Dudgeon made this album glow rather than flash - he may be one of the most underrated participants in Elton's career. (He passed away in 2002.) This was such a departure for Elton stylistically that only one song became a hit single, the song of love lost without regrets "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," in which Long John Baldry and Bernie talked Elton out of going through with a marriage that would have seen him ending his musical career. It is a powerful ballad and fits in even better when positioned in the "Captain Fantastic" storyline.

    Because the album is a concept album, it is best listened to as a piece. The angry "Meal Ticket" is a great rock song, as is "Bitter Fingers." But it is the way all the pieces fit that brings out the brilliance of this album. Even though two of the three bonus tracks are number one hits, they are actually a distraction here. Even the liner notes concede that point, claiming that Elton and Bernie were really trying to stay true to form, and had no issues with recording singles as items not album specific. Even so, how many albums can have bonus material as terrific as Elton's cover of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" or concert classic "Philadelphia Freedom?" Anyway you look at it, bonus tracks or no, "Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy" is a classic, the moment that captures all parties at the pinnacle of their powers at a time when they were also at their most commercially successful.

    After-note: I received this album for a gift on my 15th birthday, and met Elton John in Philadelphia in 1989. When I told him how I got the album (and the poster), he laughed and said "you're making me feel f'n old." That poster - also signed by Bernie - is framed and hanging in a treasured spot on my office wall....more info
  • One of the best albums of all time OVERALL!
    Elton has always amazed me. This is his crowning glory!

    INTERESTING TRIVIA! this is the first album ever to debut at number one on the billboard album charts. (back in 1975)

    This is not only one of the best albums but one of the best CONCEPT albums. I agree with previous reviewers in the fact that the 3 "bonus" tracks don't belong. Lucy and Philadelphia were great songs. One day at a time was a b-side. and they aren't available on any other album. They did get recorded around the time of the album. They may be good songs but they just don't belong with this album. I would still buy it, but treat it as an encore to the story. In this case these are Bonuses of a different kind.

    The whole album tracks the career of Elton & Bernie. Captain Fantastic is their beginnings. Bitter Fingers deals with the frustrations of trying to make it. "Im playing all the pubs, and i really need a song boys, to stir those workers up" Gotta get a meal ticket deals with getting desperate. basically could be titled "We need a hit so we can eat supper". Better off dead has him thinking he should just give up, while Writing has him saying "Will the things we wrote today, sound as good tomorrow".

    Not many know this but We all fall in love sometimes is about Eltons secret lust after Bernie Taupin. It also mentions the Empty Sky album: "But our Empty sky was filled with laughter"

    Curtains is a fitting close to the album although i have no clue what the ending lyrics are, they are just not very understandable.

    The band is Davey johnstone on Guitar, Dee Murray on Bass & Nigel Olsson on Drums. This was a GREAT lineup which was broken the day before the release of the album when he fired Dee & Nigel. QUITE A DUMB MOVE. The 3 (davey, dee & nigel) had a GREAT chemistry together musically and vocally. Nigel's drum fills were always high points of the songs. Why he fired them is something i still would like to know. Fittingly, Elton had few hits for the rest of the 70's and for alot of the 80's wasn't too hitworthy. His sound had changed because of this and i firmly believe that this was the cause. He just does not sound the same without Dee and Nigel.

    This is one of his 3 best albums along with: Caribou & Goodbye Yellow brick Road

    ...more info
  • Brilliant Work!
    Elton John is spectacular! Let me just say, I have worn out this CD! ...more info
  • Elton John and Bernie Taupin at the Top of Their Game
    I could hardly wait in 1975 to acquire Elton's new album, one of the hundreds of thousands of people who bought the album as soon as it was available in record stores. I placed the record on the player, sure that I was going to hear another "Yellow Brick Road." Then I was puzzled. What kind of music was this? It was not simple pop with catchy tunes. It was, well, complicated, and sophisticated. It was also Elton's first concept album, and it took me a while to realize that this album was the story of Elton and Bernie's rise to fame, in what appeared to be a relatively short period of time, but which actually took from 1966 to occur.

    As I said, this music is very complicated, sophisticated, and beautiful. There are some faster songs, but some of Elton's most carefully crafted music is here as well. The album begins with the title tune, a rock song with a bit of country flavor that represents the flamboyant heart of Elton, and the quieter, western-loving style of Bernie Taupin. The song alternates between a style reminiscent of "Madman Across the Water" to a style that was more fully realized in "Rock of the Westies."

    In "The Tower of Babel" and "Bitter Fingers" the dynamic duo lament the difficulties of getting into the entertainment industry. The first song is about the difficulty of entry, the second is about being a stable hack for a record company, churning out songs by the basketful to make ends meet, never seeming to work fast enough or to earn enough. "Bitter Fingers" has a beautiful piano entry, which extends into the song. Elton at his performing best.

    "Tell Me When the Whistle Blows" can play on several levels, depending on which part of the song. The style of the song is quite similar to songs such as "Danny Bailey" or "I've Seen That Movie Too" from "Yellow Brick Road." There is a fast rock beat, but the violins give a rich, lush feel. Part of the song longs for being home, and part of the song wonders whether the maturing individual in the song still has the talent and enthusiasm he had when he was a wild kid.

    Then comes "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," one of the most phenomenal songs that Bernie and Elton have ever written. This song is about a time when Elton was nearly ready to get married. He made a weak attempt to kill himself, which Bernie and Long John Baldry stopped, and then Baldry talked him out of it. The complexity of this music is symphonic. The piano chords and the harmonies are full and show Elton John having fully mastered the art of creating music.

    The next two songs, "Gotta Get a Meal Ticket" and "Better off Dead," are faster, and are about aspects of being starving artists. Both are decent songs, but they are preludes to the last three songs of the original album.

    "Writing" is a song about success. Once we are successful, how long can we sustain that success? Also, what will people in the future think about what we did. Will it have meaning for them, and will they think it is good? Bernie's lyrics tell a story, and Elton does an outstanding job complementing the lyrics.

    The last two songs remain among my all-time favorite Elton John songs. "We All Fall in Love Sometimes" and "Curtains" transition from one to the next. Though the topics are different, the tenor and beauty of the music is common. When Elton allows his piano to come to the forefront of his music the result is nearly always wondrous. "We All Fall" also has one of the best bridges ever performed in an Elton John song. Elton also plays a harpsichord and a mellotron, used so effectively by the Moody Blues in the previous decade. The results can only be appreciated by listening.

    "Curtains" begins so beautifully that when I am mellow it brings tears to my eyes. The lyrics are brought to life by Elton's vocal and musical interpretation, striking into your heart and soul. Only the emotionless could fail to appreciate this fragile, emotional music.

    This album was the culmination of years of effort. The music is mature and well-crafted. Beautiful seems a paltry word to describe much of it. The production was the best ever of any Elton John album to date. The skill of the art was theirs, and they capitalized on it to create one of the best rock albums of all time.

    Included on this remaster are three bonus songs. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was a big hit in 1975 for Elton John, and featured the talents of Elton's friend John Lennon. "Philadelphia Freedom" was another big Elton John hit, and was written as a tribute. "One Day at a Time" is another quite good song that helps fill out the potential time of a CD.

    Unfortunately I am inadequate for the task of adequately reviewing this CD. While Elton had many creative moments and beautiful songs prior to this album, and had many other excellent compositions, for one magical album the music, the lyrics, and the production all came together to create an album for all times and all ages. While I generally feel that people are silly for saying they want to give a CD dozens of stars, this album would rate more than five stars if I could give them....more info
  • Elton's best? I say yes
    This album is, in my humble opinion, Elton John's finest. Fawn over Goodbye Yellow Brick Road all you want, but unlike that double album extravaganza, there's no silly schlock here to bring the package down. All these songs are very strong, and it's a concept album too! (What can I say, I'm a sucker for concept albums. Maybe that's why I love Quadrophenia so much.)

    So this is mainly Bernie Taupin's work (he was the lyricist after all, although I'm sure Elton had some input). The concept is Elton and Bernie's early days trying to make a dent in the music industry, and the album is surprisingly bitter in quite a few songs, but disguised by Elton's brilliant sense of pop melody. The first three songs - the title track, "Tower of Babel," and "Bitter Fingers" - are just absolutely wonderful pop songs, and the lyrics - especially on "Babel" - are some of the finest Taupin ever came up with. "Tell Me When the Whistle Blows" and "(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket" never quite struck my fancy as much as the other songs - they're not bad, they just seem a bit melodically out of place with the rest of the album, although the melody suits each individual song just fine - if that makes any sense.....and then the rest of side two is wonderful too with the herky jerky drums on "Better Off Dead," the absolutely gorgeous chorus of "We All Fall in Love Sometimes," and the all-encompassing repeated coda on "Curtains." And this album also contains my all-time favorite Elton John tune, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." Those piano runs are perfect, and it's heartbreaking lyrically, the music and especially harmonies are beautiful, and Elton's voice is in absolutely prime form - he never sounded better, hitting the falsetto effortlessly.

    Certainly an essential Elton album, generally regarded as his last great one before he basically collapsed under the stress of constant touring and recording - Rock of the Westies, released just a few months later, was a huge step down from this one, and he just never quite came close to this one for many, many years after that. A brilliant pop album. Get it. Oh, and don't forget the bonus tracks, with a couple Lennon covers (including "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," which became a hit for Elton in 1974) and another megahit, "Philadelphia Freedom." You can't go wrong here. 4.5 stars rounds up to 5....more info
  • Elton's most underrated album
    This album represents some of the finest evidence of the John/Taupin collaboration. The production of the album is also stellar. Other reviewers have already made many good points, so I won't be redundant to those, but try to offer my own thoughts. While musically and lyrically this album is magnificent, overall this album belongs to Nigel Olssen - Elton's drummer. Nigel provides the punctuation to every phrase both musically and lyrically throught the album. Nowhere is this more evident than the hit song "Someone saved..." where Nigel kicks in about mid-song and changes the entire emotional feeling of the song. This is true through the whole album. It is only fitting that it is Nigel's drums you are left hearing as the album draws to a close with "Curtains".
    I also agree with a previous reviewer - buy the original album, not the one with 'extra' tracks. ...more info
  • Neck & neck with ROAD as Elton's finest overall work
    When 1974's CARIBOU showed Elton John & Bernie Taupin under pressure to get another album out, doubts had to have been raised about whether the duo was losing their knack for spinning straw into gold. But by 1975, they had had about 5 years of massive superstar success behind them, enough for them to look back at their short-but-brilliant career with a concept album harkening back to their beginnings. Sometimes nostalgia isn't really a good thing, but it turned out to be an ace in the hole with 1975's CAPTAIN FANTASTIC & THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY.

    The title appropriately signifies the two individual personas of Elton & Bernie, with Elton being the true showman (Captain Fantastic) & Bernie the more retiring, simplified person (Brown Dirt Cowboy). While 1973's GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD required a lot of the duo's energy & creativity, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC had to have been more of a labor of love with Elton & Bernie creating art first & commerce second. No one had to be more surprised than them when the album became the very first one ever to debut at #1 on the Billboard album charts.

    The countryish opening title track introduces our two characters early in their careers when they were just beginning their partnership, writing music more for financial security than making history.

    The bouncy "Tower Of Babel" could be the duo first witnessing the cutthroat atmosphere of the music industry with its prominent mood of patting itself on the back & considering themselves higher up than the talent it seeks to promote.

    "Bitter Fingers" is a combination of both the previous songs with Elton & Bernie starting to make music for themselves, but finding out the bigwigs want the money to keep rolling in first. This is certainly one of Elton's greatest rockers, and one of his most overlooked.

    The Philly soul of "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" is maybe the first sign of Elton starting to cave under the pressure of being both an artist & a star, and while it may be Bernie's lyrics he is singing, Elton could easily be singing more about himself.

    That insecurity manifests itself on the album's finest acheivement "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". Written about an early suicide attempt by Elton, it's easily the album's most accessible track, and was the only single released, becoming a top 5 hit in its full 7-minute glory. While the closing synthesized string arrangement was more of a last-ditch inclusion instead of true strings, it doesn't make the song any less moving. Get out your tissues for this one!

    And that's just the first half of the album! "[Gotta Get A] Meal Ticket" is another, more vicious rocker about the ruthlessness of the music industry. This could have made it as a single, but its less-than-flattering attitude towards the business had to have put the kibosh on that notion.

    "Better Off Dead" revisits Elton's mental demons which were becoming even more fierce at the time of this recording. "Writing" appears to have Elton & Bernie foreseeing the two of them collaborating decades into the future. 30 years later, they're still at it, so let's hope that premonition comes through.

    "We All Fall In Love Sometimes" & "Curtains" were separated on the LP and CD, but recorded both in one fell swoop. Taken together, it's a fabulous epic statement with the second part even more stunning with an extended orchestral & choral coda inspired by The Eagles' legendary closing to their DESPERADO album.

    1975 would prove to be Elton's year for the taking, with his single-only releases proving to be more successful than the music on CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. Early in the year, Elton hit #1 with his cover of the Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". He & John Lennon had struck up a friendship around this time, and when he visited Elton in the studio, Bernie Taupin had commented that "Lucy", which the Beatles never put out as a single, should have been released. Elton took him up on the offer with John contributing guitar. It may be criminal to say that Elton outdoes the Beatles on his version, but he certainly does a fine job at it.

    Elton also covered John's "One Day [At A Time]" from his MIND GAMES album, and while it's a not-bad rendition, it's definitely not something Elton & Bernie could come up with on their own, too traditional. A few months after "Lucy" hit #1, Elton returned to the top spot with "Philadelphia Freedom", a song written about his friend Billie Jean King's tennis team. Once again, Elton & Bernie never fail to make it more than just a simple tribute, giving it its own singular identity. Its near-flawless replication of the Philly soul sound even sent the song to the R&B charts, and won Elton the opportunity to perform it on SOUL TRAIN, becoming one of the first White performers to guest on that show.

    Even while Elton John & Bernie Taupin were starting to fall prey to the intense pressures of stardom & adulation (Bernie had his own problems with addictions just like Elton), their magic touch was still keen enough early on to create a natural wonder like CAPTAIN FANTASTIC & THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY. The worst of their troubles had yet to begin (the follow-up to this album was the first sign that Elton & Bernie maybe needed time away from each other), but for now, the duo had little to complain about with all the success in their midst....more info

    What can I say it is Sir Elton John! This was a replacement to my daughter's collection. It arrived very promptly; the price was excellent; we are very satisfied....more info
  • Brown Dirt Cowboy~ Elton John
    Bought this in vinyl but lost all my albums so
    I bought it again when cassettes were the fad.
    Just had to have it on CD..... bought it again!
    Now I have in on my computer forever.
    Love it!...more info
  • Grand Slam!
    If Elton John's career ever mirrored a baseball game, you could easily surmise that, just like in baseball when the bases are loaded and you need a hit, Elton not only delivered but knocked it out of the ball park with this release. It was 1975 and the incredible songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin was gradually reaching new heights with each release.

    Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is their finest album in all ways: production, melody, vocally and the best performance by his then band. In addition, these are likey to be the best lyrics Bernie Taupin ever penned. He is writing in the first person narrative for a change on all the songs. And, finally, Elton is singing lyrics that he can relate to because all of the songs are about the era when he and Bernie first met and stardom hadn't arrived (1967-1969).

    The title track simply tells the story of their partnership: "Captain Fantastic, raised and regimented, hardly a hero, just someone his mother might know". How fitting a description for young Elton - shy, unassuming, average. While later on Elton sings: "Brown Dirt Cowboy, still green and growing...hand in hand went music and rhyme, the captain and the kid, stepping in the ring, from here on Sonny, it's a long and lonely climb." The melody starts with a country flare that rocks out during the chorus...a incredible arrangement that balances rock (Elton) with country (Taupin).

    Tower of Babel hints at their first glimpse of the music business: "where were all your shoulders when we cried?" Taupin laments. "Bitter Fingers" tells the tale of the doing the club circuit as a struggling band. "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" is Taupins story of his journey from the countryside in England to London where he would write with Elton. This song in particular has a very urban and soulful sound and captures the lyric perfectly. The big hit from the album, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is yet another superb power ballad, much in the same vein as "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me". Elton sings with much conviction on this one and the backing vocal of his song capture every nuance and pain in the lyric. Further, Nigel Olsson's drum playing on this song may be his finest performance as he dramatically pushes the song to its emotional climax.

    The second half of the album kicks off with "Gotta Get A Meal Ticket" which is about the first publishing deal Elton and Taupin signed and the anxieties that come with it: "while the other climb reaching dizzy heights, the world's in front of me in black and white, I'm on the bottom line." Further, Elton sings: "shake a hand if you have to, trust in us and we'll love you anyway." The very wary writers of course need a record deal to make it and this song typifies that experience. Guitarist Davey Johnstone's opening hook may be his best since Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting - his guitar soars on this song. The next song, Writing is a relatively simple song that seeks to wonder if the duo have a lengthy future in front of them. We All Fall In Love Sometimes/Curtains finishes in what must be the best closing to an Elton John album ever. The first part deals with a brotherly affection Elton and Taupin discovered when they met and Curtains is simply a song about their childhood wish that came true. Elton has never sounded so sincere as he does here. While it's true he has been delivering Taupin's words for years as if he wrote them himself, there is something distinctively different about his deliverly this time. Frankly, this could be his best vocal performance ever.

    A couple of extra tracks are included on this remastered version: the wonderful philly soul hit "Philadelphia Freedom", Elton's dynamite cover of the Beatles "Lucy In The Sky" and a less than necessary cover of John Lennon's "One Day At A Time" from his Mind Games release. Since these songs have no relation to the Captain Fantastic concept album, I would have left them off and put them on another more appropriate re-release.

    Producer Gus Dudgeon give each song here a pristine shine and each band member showcases their incredible talents. This also represents the last album by the original lineup. While they didn't realize it at the time, this was to be their swan song until 1983. Elton moved on into different areas after this and things were never really the same again.

    It's hard to believe that just two years prior, Elton released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - another masterpiece. Within 3 years, Elton delivered two albums of career peaking quality. And while Yellow Brick Road usually gets the nod as his finest album because it has more pop accessibility then this release, Captain Fantastic shouldn't be over looked.

    If Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was his answer to, say, The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper", then Captain Fantastic would be Elton's equilvalent to "Abbey Road."...more info

  • Ending An Era In Style
    Elton was just a singles machine, when this album came out. But he used all those singles to guarantee an audience for this brilliant, very uncommercial masterpiece. The album debuted at number one, but people expecting more "Daniel" or "The Bitch Is Back" were undoubtedly shocked, but hopefully not disppointed. This album has it all. It rewards the true Elton John fans who waited through numerous commercial hits for an album worthy of his earlier work. As if inspired by the story line, his early career with Bernie Taupin, Elton and Bernie seemingly go back in time and come up with just an incredible album as good as anything he had ever done to that point, and miles better than anything he would ever do again.

    The bonus tracks include two number one monster singles. Not bad for bonus tracks....more info
  • Captian Fantastic is Fantastic!
    One of the BEST Elton John albums EVER! Grew up with the album and could not find the CD for years. So glad that I searched Amazon! This is the only CD that rides in my truck and I listen to it at least once a week....more info
  • Great service
    My CD came very quickly and was in perfect shape. I've been enjoying my trip down memory lane!...more info
  • Like stepping back in time
    My sister was a huge Elton John fan when we were growing up in the '70s, and we used to sit in her room and listen to this album, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" which she brought back from a trip to Europe, along with cigarettes. I like certain Elton John songs a lot, and others, from various periods of his, I really don't like ("Crocodile Rock" for example). I think he's even admitted himself that he didn't like certain songs he released because they were just crap he was spewing out to make a buck, but that's beside the point. This is the good Elton phase in my opinion. "Captain Fantastic," "Tower of Babel" are really good songs. When I listen to this album (CD, haha), which is creative and unique, I feel like I'm back in that yellow room, and the whole world is out there, just waiting for me and my sister....more info
  • History in Song
    This isn't just my favourite Elton John album, it's my favourite album, of any genre, any artist. The completeness of the album, the looking-back on the early career of writing-partners-and-friends, the imagery and sheer musical genius of the thing make for an amazing musical experience. I can't pick out one song and tell you it's the best, although "Writing", reflects for me the awe the two felt at the time as their unique talents blended.

    This isn't an Elton John album, it's completely an Elton John -Bernie Taupin creation. The lyrics, written by Bernie, are written from Elton's point of view, and are some of the most moving, poetic words ever written. This is a team effort, reflecting love of craft and the priceless bonds of friendship. "Will the things we wrote today sound as good tomorrow?" In spades, gentlemen. In spades.

    ...more info
  • Are there more stars...
    Of all of the dozens of CD's you could get with this guy, you can't beat "Fantastic". The best of Elton John and Bernie Taupin is RIGHT HERE. You don't have to look no more!!! Gif....more info
  • The Greatest Album Ever!!!
    This is undoubtedly the greatest album ever made, and I'm not just talking Sir Elton's numerous output--I mean it is the greatest album ever made within the pantheon of popular music. From subtle piano flourishes to full-blown operatic treatments, this album has everything for anyone who has ever followed a dream. Sir Elton accomplishes much more than garnering my respect as the greatest musician to have graced the last century, it has earned him worship as a true idol. This entirely biographical album ranges from the honky-tonk influenced licks of the title track to the ice-cold piano and vocals of "Curtains" the final track, whose lyrics are bone-chillingly frigid, honest, screaming in desperation and never opting out for bubbly bubblegum lyrics. Instead, it offers a subtle operatic treatment to its subject (presumably Elton himself) who is in the midst of magnificent desolation. Without a doubt, this is an essential disc for anyone's collection, whether a longtime devotee of Sir Elton, or someone just "coming out" and discovering his music for the first time....more info
  • Absolutely one of the greatest albums of all time!
    Elton John was a 70s version of the fab four
    rolled up in one... he's on full display here..
    his band sounds amazing... ...more info
  • Elton John's Autobiography On Disc
    CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY is a great album that traces the lives of Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin, and especially their working relationship. The album, despite hitting Number One, only spawned one hit single, the Number Four ballad "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", which was about how Elton was advised by Long John Baldry not to go ahead with his marriage plans, as they were obviously driving him to the edge of doing himself in. However, that wasn't seen as an issue, as the album was meant to be a concept piece, not a collection of individual singles as his other albums had been. That said, despite its five-star rating, its predecessors, including HONKY CHATEAU, GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, and CARIBOU, as well as its direct successor, ROCK OF THE WESTIES, are slightly better and should be purchased first....more info
  • Elton's Best Album me this is Elton's best album. It represents everything good in Elton John music: chock full of memorable lyrics and tunes you find yourself singing long after they're done.

    You get some of Elton's greatest hits ("Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Philadelpia Freedom," and his cover of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds") along with lesser known masterpieces ("Curtains," "Tower of Babel," and "We All Fall in Love Sometimes"). All in all, the album as a whole is nothing short of fantastic. I'm able to put it on and listen to it straight through without having to hit the advance button.

    "Curtains" is probably my favorite song on the album: "I used to know this old scarecrow, he was my song, my joy and sorrow..." You also get the added bonus of three singles that weren't on the original album: "Philadelphia Freedom," "One Day at a Time," and "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."
    I was digging through my old albums and found I had the original album. The detailed artwork is amazing. There also was a lyric booklet as well as a Captain Fantasic poster. While I like CD's, you tend to miss out on this sort of stuff due to size constraints. It's really pretty cool.

    If I were to limit myself to only one Elton John album that I felt was representative of his career, this is the album I'd get....more info