[Review] Elton John: Greatest Hits (1974)

Elton’s best-selling album collects all of the big hits through the first half of the 70s.

Kronomyth 10: This one’s for you.

Somewhere around Honky Chateau, it became clear that you were only going to find two great songs on any given Elton John album, a rocker and a ballad. I’m not complaining, since those two songs were usually worth the price of the album, but you secretly wished you could just cut out the filler. Greatest Hits cuts out the filler. It’s not just pure gold, it has gone platinum seventeen times over since its release—and those are just the U.S. sales.

I don’t have an opinion on Greatest Hits. Everyone already owns this record. My parents owned this record. They owned maybe two dozen albums, and at least three of them were by The Carpenters. I don’t even think they owned a Beatles album, but they had Elton John’s Greatest Hits. Years later, my Dad bought Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player on compact disc. I’m pretty sure he plays the first track (“Daniel”), skips forward to “Crocodile Rock” and then hits the eject button. (In my Dad’s defense, he did own two Cat Stevens albums.)

When I was in the fifth grade, I went through an Elton John phase where I was convinced he was the greatest musician of all time, even eclipsing The Beatles. That’ll happen when the first Elton John album you own is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; with time, you come to realize that not every Elton John album is brilliant. On the remote chance that you’re not familiar with Elton’s body of work, and I can only imagine this applies to younger listeners, Greatest Hits is a great place to start. Then I would pick up Yellow Brick Road, Captain Fantastic, Rock of the Westies, maybe Madman Across The Water (which this compilation skips over) and move on.

Of minor interest, the US and Japanese versions of Greatest Hits featured “Bennie And The Jets” in place of “Candle In The Wind.” In 1992, both tracks were included on an expanded 11-track version.

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Original LP Version

A1. Your Song (4:00)
A2. Daniel (3:52)
A3. Honky Cat (5:12)
A4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (3:13)
A5. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (4:55)
B1. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time) (4:40)
B2. Bennie And The Jets (5:10)*
B3. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (5:33)
B4. Border Song (3:19)
B5. Crocodile Rock (3:56)

Expanded CD/CS reissue bonus track
11. Candle In The Wind (3:50)

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
*Non-US/JPN elpee versions replace “Bennie And The Jets” with “Candle In The Wind.”

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on November 4, 1974 in the UK (DJM, DJLPH 442), the US (MCA, MCA/MCAT-2128), Germany (DJM, 88 474 XOT), Israel (CBS, 25879), Italy (DJM, ORL 8068) and Japan (DJM, IFS-80055) with diecut picture innersleeve; reached #1 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 17X platinum record). 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (DJM, 25AP-1558) with diecut picture innersleeve.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1979 in the US (MCA, MCA-5224).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in the US (MCA, MCA-37215) and Portugal (DJM, MM-7-019).
  4. Re-packaged with Greatest Hits Volume II on 2LP in the US (MCA, R231711), produced for RCA Music Service.
  5. Re-issued on cassette in the US (MCA, MCAC-1689).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in 1984 in the US (MCA, MCAD-37215).
  7. Re-issued on expanded compact disc and cassette in 1992 in the US (Polydor, 512 532-2/4) with one bonus track.
  8. Re-released on 24k gold expanded, remastered compact disc in the US (DCC, GZS-1071) with one bonus track.

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