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A Single Man (UK Version)

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Album Review

It's not that Elton John was in need of a comeback in 1978, when he released A Single Man, because he was still one of pop's biggest stars. But he certainly had hit a creative drought with 1976's Blue Moves, a turgid double album that found Elton and his partner Bernie Taupin barely able to write a side's worth of memorable material. John took a couple of years off and reemerged with a new lyricist, name of Gary Osbourne, who was certainly more straightforward than Taupin, but not as inspired. Even if he lacked Bernie's endearing incomprehensibility, Osbourne kick-started John creatively, spurring him to write his strongest collection of songs since Captain Fantastic. Also, John left behind Gus Dudgeon, the other partner of his classic period, choosing to collaborate with Clive Franks. Now, this didn't result in a blockbuster of an album; even if it was a hit in both the U.K. and U.S., none of the songs, even hits like "Part-Time Love," are considered part of his basic canon, but this is easily one of his most underrated records, a tight collection of pop songs where the craft effortlessly shines. He does contemporary pop, elegant instrumentals like "Song for Guy," and even apes New Orleans R&B effectively on "Big Dipper." This, of course, is a testament to John's talents, especially because it didn't become a perennial in his catalog — for most artists, a record this skilled and sophisticated would be a highpoint. Here, it's simply Elton doing his job as best he can. [A 2008 reissue contained five bonus tracks, extensive liner notes, and restored artwork.]

Customer Reviews

The Start Of The End

Up until this album came out Elton John in my mind could do no wrong. Then came A Single Man, and that started a long streak of not so good albums, until Songs From The West Coast ended the string of average music . But you should look for anything before this disc when looking for Elton music.

Better than expected!

Looking back years later, this one fares better with time than perhaps it did when new. In 1977, Elton didn't own the rock music universe anymore and punk was taking off on both sides of the Atlantic. Elton chose the road less traveled and got more introspective, taking time off from writing with Bernie and being a little experimental. If anything, only "Madness" and "It Ain't Gonna Be Easy" are somewhat challenging listens, but are hardly the worst things he's done. Bonus tracks abound, including the much overlooked "Ego" (though its b-side "Flinstone Boy" is good reason for Elton to AVOID writing lyrics). Not a pop materpiece, but easily worth adding to the CD library.

Buy it now!

Elton always wrote great pop songs. This time around he wrote great pop songs but he started to wonder what the hell was going on and even though, of course, it's not his lyrics it's obvious in the music that he knows he's not where he wants to be and he wants to get back. Most people didn't get what he was up to on Blue Moves so he dumped most everyone he'd worked with up to this point. Changing Bernie Taupin for Gary Osbourne made the headlines at the time (as well as the People Magazine cover: "Elton Loses Glasses and Lasses"). He also changed producers as well as half his band. Outcome: it's still Elton John. Not a bad track on the album. Bonus tracks are awesome. Ego is one of my favorite singles from him. Flintstone Boy was painfully slow when I was a kid and listening to it on the B-side but now it seems ridiculously prescient. It Ain't Gonna Be Easy is simply classic. Part-Time Love is dated but fun. Shine Through is yet another great example of Elton grabbing somebody else's genre and making it his own. Return to Paradise makes my boyfriend dance and that's enough for me.


Born: March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Elton John was the biggest pop star of the '70s, grabbing headlines and generating hits throughout the world. As it turned out, this was merely the first act in a remarkable career that kept him at the top of the charts for over 25 years. He charted a Top 40 hit single every year between 1970 and 1996, a sign that he knew how to both change with the times and mold the times to fit him. Initially marketed as a singer/songwriter, John soon revealed he could craft Beatlesque pop and pound out rockers...
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