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A Single Man (Remastered)

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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.]

Biography

Born: 25 March 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, England

Genre: Pop

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

In terms of sales and lasting popularity, Elton John was the biggest pop superstar of the early '70s. Initially marketed as a singer/songwriter, John soon revealed he could craft Beatlesque pop and pound out rockers with equal aplomb. He could dip into soul, disco, and country, as well as classic pop balladry and even progressive rock. His versatility, combined with his effortless melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and flamboyant stage shows, made him the most popular recording artist of the '70s....
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