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Record Rating: *****

ELTON JOHN - ROCKET MAN: THE DEFINITIVE HITS One of the top five selling artists of all time (just behind Elvis and the Beatles) Elton Johnís the only pop star to emerge out of the introspective singer-songwriter era of the early 70s whoís managed to keep churning out hit after hit well into his fourth decade. For his career has seldom run dry of Top 10 hits, whether theyíre the radio staples of the disco decade or the stage and screen anthems of his latter days.

Now that the 60-year-old pop star seems better known for his outrageous behaviour and his travails with George Michael than for his catalogue, Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits is a timely effort to focus attention back where it rightly belongs ~ his music. Yes, Johnís fans have been confronted with a dizzying array of retrospectives over the years, but few have had as much going for them as this jam-packed single-disc collection that was released to commemorate the pop starís 60th birthday. The impressive breadth of subject matter on the 17 tracks includes among other things ~ wistful, elegant ballads (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Sacrifice, Donít Let Sun Go Down On Me), a nod to tennis pro Billie Jean King (Philadelphia Freedom) and feel-good rockers (Crocodile Rock, Saturday Nightís Alright For Fighting, Iím Still Standing) that have all become pop music standards. Your Song, the Bernie Taupin penned love song is also included here, which many feel is Johnís greatest moment.

The quintessential John-Taupin composition on this CD is of course Candle In The Wind ~ 1970ís version from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was written as an ode to Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe, and the 90s version was rewritten to be a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. The latter went on to become the best selling single of all time after John performed it at the Princessís funeral. For newer fans, the collection also finds room for the highlights of his more recent albums ~ like I Want Love from Songs From The West Coast.

The only problem with the recent spate of definitive hit collections from the pop elite ~ Elvis, The Beatles, the Bee Gees, and now Elton John ~ is that compiling an entire record around what were the popular singles only shines the spotlight on the really good stuff that made the cut. In Johnís case, itís the omission of classics like Nikita, The One, Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and Something About The Way You Look Tonight among others. Despite those exclusions, Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits doesnít merely preserve the legacy of Elton John, it gives it a new vivacity, and a power guaranteed to propel the music forward for some time to come. This is money wisely spent.

Read our other reviews:

The Beach Boys - The Warmth Of The Sun       Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing       Music From The OC: Mix 1       Air Supply - The Singer And The Song      


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