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The Big Picture

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Album Review

The Big Picture finds Elton John in strong form, turning in a by-now-predictable collection of ballads and pop songs designed to appeal to the adult contemporary audience. The difference is inspiration. With Made in England, John and his collaborator Bernie Taupin showed signs of life, and they continue that winning streak here. There may be nothing new on The Big Picture, but it's well-crafted professional pop, demonstrating John's knack for catchy pop hooks and his way with a ballad. As with any latter-day John album, hits like "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" are balanced out by some filler, but the key to the album is how album tracks like "Recover Your Soul," "If the River Can Bend," and "The Big Picture" carry emotional and melodic weight. It's a solid effort from one of pop's most reliable artists.

Customer Reviews

a difficult time

This album came out right after both Gianni Versace and Diana, the Princess of Wales, two of Elton's best friends, died, both horribly. I'll never forget seeing Elton in concert late that year (1997); it was extraordinarily moving. The Big Picture features some amazing songs: The End will Come, If the River can Bend, Something about the way you look tonight (classic Elton) and, as far as I'm concerned, I Can't one of those great Elton epic ballads. Don't overlook this album.

Most Orchestrated and Stirring

I've had most of Elton's music since I first heard him in the early 70s. This album is great for a couple of reasons. One he worked with his gifted colleague Bernie Taupin...together they're unbeatable. But as a fan of great orchestration (I guess that's why I love ELO), this album makes it, for me, the gold standard for Elton. The songs are all strongly personal and emotional...the discrimination he has faced is borne out in the song "Live Like Horses", and the title song "The Big Picture" has obvious double meanings, especially the theater. His hit song, "Something About the Way you Look Tonight" is, of course, excellent, but I prefer the heartfelt feelings you get when you hear "Can't Steer My Heart Clear of You". When I saw him in concert a few years ago, I was disappointed because there was no orchestra and his voice was overshadowed by a heavy bass, loud, sound. This album is one of his me it IS the best even though the songs will never gain the prominence of his early work.

this has a sound! Very sedate album, but grows on you

I initially was disappointed by this album. Most songs are slow. Then, I grew to really like it. The production is hard to get used to. Unlike his many back-to-basics albums, this album has so much production, you sort of feel like the album is on tranquilizers---which actually gets cool after you realize that it's not going to rock much. NOTE: January is a completely odd, almost-progressive rock tune that people not into soft rock should consider picking up.


Born: March 25, 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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