1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)


1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)

Sometimes a debut album can become a smashing success that simply can’t be replicated. Selling in excess of 400,000 copies and winning the 1988 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards for best debut single (That's When I Think of You) and album, 1927 effectively became a household name in Australia overnight. While international success eluded them, that shouldn’t reflect on the wonderful musical experience that is ...ish. Ian McFarlane, in his opus The Encyclopedia Of Australian Rock And Pop, put it perfectly when he wrote ...ish is brimful of stirring, stately pop rock anthems. Yes, dear reader, it is that good!



To Love Me is a great opener that is truly representative of the Australian music scene during the 80s. It is recorded, mixed, and mastered beautifully, as is the entire album.

That’s When I Think Of You has a beat, vocal presentation, and guitar solo that are off the charts. There is no pretentious playing here, it is simply beautiful! This is what good music sounds like, you literally won't be able to stop your body moving to the rhythm. So good!

If I Could is rock ballad heaven. Listen to the song once and you’ll be singing it for the rest of the day. If I Could is simply stunning!

You'll Never Know picks up the tempo, but doesn't feel out of place in the tracking of the album. By this stage, if you haven't already turned the volume up, I suggest you do so. Get that air guitar out and warm up those vocal cords, you're going to need them.

Compulsory Hero is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, by anyone, anywhere in the world. It is an unofficial Australian anthem and not only does it bring me to tears, but it makes me proud to be an Australian. It’s a sonic masterpiece!



All The People is a great pop/rock tune, but it was always going to be difficult for any song to follow Compulsory Hero. Thankfully, in the minute or so it takes to flip the record, the senses have a chance to reset. Regardless, All The People is a worthy addition to the album.

Nothing In The Universe is a lovely song. While not on par with some of the earlier songs, it is certainly no B-side.

Propaganda Machine has an interesting punk/pop feel to it. I love it!

Give The Kid A Break has a sensational beat and series of guitar riffs. I hope you didn't turn that volume knob down as this song deserves to be heard at ear bleeding levels. While a B-side, no one ever said a B-side couldn't be thoroughly enjoyable.

The Mess, unfortunately, doesn't follow the quality B-side that is Give The Kid A Break. The mess is, for lack of a better term, a mess and sounds like pure filler. That, however, doesn’t deter me from flipping back to Side A and enjoying this sensational album once more.


...ish is not only one of the greatest albums ever recorded by an Australian band, it is sonically and musically on par with all the greatest bands of the era. In fact, the production quality here is world-class and it truly shows on the 2018 vinyl re-issue. Pressed at the world-renowned Pallas plant in Germany, I’ve never heard this album sound so good…ever! The record is pressed on audiophile quality eco-grade vinyl and is so silent you’ll hear the blood rushing through your veins before you hear any unwanted surface noise. The soundstage is immersive, with incredible depth that proves just how good vinyl can sound if diligence is taken in the mastering and pressing process. Yes, the remastered edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is excellent, but it pales in comparison to the vinyl release.

I could honestly keep talking about how exceptional this album is, but I suggest you just order a copy and experience it for yourself.

...ish is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, ...ish is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.


Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)


Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)

The mid-1970's was a tsunami of creativity within the music industry. Leading the charge, along with many others, was Elton John with his larger-than-life persona and signature sound. Most impressively, John would release 12 albums during this decade alone. While the quality of the output varied, I feel the shift in recording styles, during this decade has had a longer-lasting impact on the music industry than even the preceding decade. No doubt someone will disagree with my elation of the 70's, but as much as I adore The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who with their 60's sound, Elton John, the Eagles, and Aerosmith would further evolve this raw rock sound, creating sonic signatures that were equally unique and progressive. No, dear reader, I haven't forgotten about the Disco era or the impact of Motown's soul. I merely mention all this insofar as I feel Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy defines the era. Yes, that is a bold statement, but John and Taupin really blended all genres of music to create nothing less than an incredible body of work.

While I’ve always liked Alan Aldridge’s artwork, I do find the cover art to be a little too busy. That said, I’ve never owned this album on vinyl and I have no doubt the artwork would become more immersive on the larger canvas.

For this review, I'm listening to the 24/96kHz MQA edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It is exquisite, with a sonic signature that just sounds right. Trust me, I know how vague that sounds, but the soundstage is well presented and no musical elements are concealed, as they are with the 16/44.1kHz CD-quality FLAC edition from the mid-90's mastering sessions. That isn’t to say the standard CD edition is inferior, but you do get a greater sense of transparency with the MQA edition. The drum track, in particular on Curtains, comes alive to such an extent that you can visualise Nigel Olsson’s intensity as well as the tension on each drum. It is simply spectacular!

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy may be an awesome name for an album, but sadly the song is lacklustre. It isn't necessarily bad, it just fails to live up to the Elton John hype and really shouldn’t have been used as the lead song.

Tower Of Babel is a song that grows on you the more you listen to it. I do recall initially disliking it, but as the years have passed, I find it to be an exceptional song that is worthy of more fanfare than I feel it has received over the years.

Bitter Fingers takes a minute or so to get going, but once it does there is no stopping the addictive rhythm. The chorus is off-the-charts and while it is not easy to sing-a-long to, I dare you to sit still while enjoying this song. My advice, turn the volume up when this song comes on.

Tell Me When The Whistle Blows has a Marvin Gaye feel to it. See, this is why I said this album encompasses the musical styles of the decade? While it isn't a bad song, I don't feel it is well-suited to John. That said, the album wouldn’t be the same without it!

Someone Saved My Life Tonight is spectacular! In my review of The Very Best Of Elton John, I said Someone Saved My Life Tonight is a lovely ballad with a perfect balance and overall composition. I certainly stand by that aforementioned statement.

(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket is Elton John meets The Rolling Stones. Needless to say, I love it!

Better Off Dead isn't a bad song and interestingly reminds me of The Who’s music. That's a good thing!

Writing is a little too campy for me with that continuous twang. As I listen to it, I can't help but hear the guitar sound that Mark Knopfler would adapt as the signature Dire Straits sound.

We All Fall In Love Sometimes is beautiful!

Curtains follows on perfectly from We All Fall In Love Sometimes. It is so perfect that you would be forgiven for assuming the songs are not separate, but one exceptional masterpiece. As I mentioned earlier, I simply adore the drum track on this MQA version. In fact, all musical elements are perfectly presented with an impressively wide and immersive soundstage. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is a Beatles classic, but just as John outperformed The Who on Pinball Wizard, he takes the Beatles tune, surpasses the original, and makes it his own.

One Day At A Time has an interesting panning effect between the left and right channels. I can't say I like it, but it pays homage to the psychedelic era. One Day At A Time is a B-side but remains a worthy addition to the album.

Philadelphia Freedom, along with the two previous songs, were not included in the album tracking until the 1995 remastering sessions. Such a shame considering how excellent the song is. Regardless, it is here now, unless you get the vinyl re-issue of the album that stays loyal to the original track listing. While Curtains is a fantastic track to close the album on, Philadelphia Freedom most certainly encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within John's catalogue.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is another exceptional Elton John album. While a couple of the songs may not live up to John's reputation, the album as a body of work is perfect and should be a must-own for every fan.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

If you're so inclined, there is also a Deluxe Edition (featuring a live performance from 1975 at Wembley Stadium) available on double CD and iTunes. The Deluxe Edition is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.

Other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds:


SIXX:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (Album Review)


SIXX:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (Album Review)

One would be forgiven for thinking rock legends of the calibre of Nikki Sixx, Dj Ashba, and James Michael wouldn't have anything inspirational to say, particularly if you consider Sixx's entertainingly sex, drugs, and rock and roll past. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth as This Is Gonna Hurt is perhaps one of the most positive, heartfelt, and inspiring albums to ever be released in the rock and roll genre.

This Is Gonna Hurt is a stellar hard rock song to commence the album with. I love it!

Lies Of The Beautiful People is fantastic, but I feel it’s sonically compromised as it sounds overly compressed. Ashba's guitar solo is also lost in the overly complex and shallow soundstage. Yes, I recognise this is a style of recording, but when you have musicians as skilled as Ashba and Sixx, you really want them to shine.

Are You With Me is a great tune with a killer semi-solo drum beat that blows my mind. Unfortunately, it’s another track that is sonically compromised due to a shallow soundstage.

Live Forever is superb! Michael's vocal dexterity is perfect for the song and while I don't often listen to lyrics for their literal meaning, preferring to consider lyric delivery as just another musical element, I often find with all Sixx: A.M. records that I gravitate to the vocals. James Michael is clearly not only a marvellous Producer, but he has the unique vocal chops that are needed to stand out from the crowd. Plus, Ashba's solo really stands out on Live Forever. I love it!

Sure Feels Right slows the album down with a mellow, country-inspired, tune. Yes, it may sound a little strange, but when you listen to the song it simply works and surprisingly doesn't feel out-of-place with the rest of the album. It reminds me a little of the shift in rhythm that Kid Rock has applied to some of his music over the years. Exceptional!

Deadlihood is one of my favourite songs on the album. It is a hard-hitting rhythmic wonderland with some very cool vocal distortion.

Smile is an absolutely beautiful recording.

Help Is On The Way is a fun song. One of their best! Yes, it is overly compressed with almost no soundstage to speak of. However, it reminds me of the intense rhythm of Rob Zombie's Sinister Urge album. I don’t know about you but I feel the importance of rhythm in rock and roll is understated. A solid rhythm can make an average song sound exceptional and that is certainly the case for Help Is On The Way. That said, I must admit I also find the song to be a little campy, not that that is always a bad thing!

Oh My God is a song so similar in tonality that the casual listener would be forgiven for thinking it’s a U2 song. That shouldn't be seen as a negative reflection as the song is beautiful in its own right. There’s even a small hint of Bon Jovi’s musical style in Ashba's guitar solo. Regardless, Oh My God is an exceptional song that most listeners will find inspirational.

Goodbye My Friends is a mixed bag. I love the musicality and piano introduction, but I'm not sold on the vocal style throughout the verses. Overall, Goodbye My Friends sounds too busy, causing my brain to struggle to determine which all-important rhythm to connect with.

Skin is brilliant! Amazing! Exceptional! You get the idea. This song should inspire everyone. It is so beautiful and I would go as far as saying it is one of the best songs ever written and recorded.

This Is Gonna Hurt is an incredible album that I have always enjoyed. Although, truth-be-told, I could say that about all of Sixx: A.M.'s music.

This review is based on listening to the CD (cat: 88697749012). While I would love to be able to own a vinyl edition, specifically for the artwork and increased dynamic range, This Is Gonna Hurt was unfortunately never released on vinyl. Hopefully, a reissue will turn up sometime, perhaps for the 10th Anniversary. That said, a unique iTunes edition exists that I’ve owned since the album's release in 2011. It is superb with interactive artwork, a documentary, and music videos. While I may lament the sonic quality of iTunes AAC 256kbps files, the iTunes LP is a value-added proposition. Sadly, despite Apple continually claiming music is in their DNA, iTunes LP releases are not available on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. I say sadly because the iTunes LP idea is pure gold for music lovers. It is the missing link in digital music downloads and streaming. Whether it was Apple dropping the ball or the record labels not willing to invest in the concept, l’m not sure. Perhaps consumer demand wasn't there either. I still hold out hope that this will change, especially considering bonus features in films have made their way to iTunes purchases, across all Apple hardware platforms, but I feel it is more likely that Apple will quietly abandon the iTunes LP feature. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but l’ve never understood why higher quality and more elaborate content is rewarded in the film industry but dismissed in the music industry. It simply doesn’t make sense!

Regardless, This Is Gonna Hurt is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), iTunes LP, and as a standard iTunes release.

If you prefer streaming, This Is Gonna Hurt is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Other Sixx: A.M. Reviews By Subjective Sounds


Elton John – Caribou (Remastered) [Album Review]


Elton John – Caribou (Remastered) [Album Review]

Following an album like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was always going to be a monumental challenge. Of course, it didn’t help that Caribou was recorded in only nine days. As incredible an artist as John is, the lack of time in the recording studio shows, resulting in a mixed bag of songs that often sound like a series of outtakes from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sessions along with some that would have been perfectly suited to his debut album, Empty Sky. Regular readers will recall my love for Empty Sky, hence the aforementioned statement isn't a criticism as such, it is more a realisation of the song selection on Caribou.

The Bitch Is Back is one of the two killer songs on Caribou. It feels polished and is solid Elton John. Pure perfection and one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded!

Pinky has a beautiful tonality, but the shift in style from The Bitch Is Back is jarring to the senses and it takes a minute or so to enjoy Pinky for its own musicality.

Grimsby has an addictive rhythm. You will be toe tapping and head bopping from the first note. The electric guitar riff found throughout is sonic perfection. I love it!

Dixie Lily is a classic B-side. It may have suited Tumbleweed Connection, but it feels out of place on Caribou.

Solar Prestige A Gammon has a strange beginning, but I find myself compelled by the lyrical implementation and overall musicality; even though the song is a little left of the center.

You're So Static is a great song. The addition of brass instrumentation really solidifies the rhythm, making You're So Static a hidden gem.

I’ve Seen The Saucers starts off beautifully with a gorgeous beat and interesting vocal style that is borderline Jazz inspired. However, as the song continues, it builds into a solid pop/rock tune. If only there was a little more spit and polish, I’ve Seen The Saucers could have been a massive hit, but the magic is concealed.

Stinker isn’t a bad song, and while it isn’t my favourite, it works well within the album structure and has some musically pleasing moments.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me is the second killer song on Caribou. It is simply fantastic!

Ticking is a lovely song. Another hidden gem in my opinion.

Pinball Wizard is exceptional! For me, it beats The Who's original recording in every aspect.

Sick City is another song off Caribou that is enhanced by the addition of brass instrumentation. It has a great rhythm and is a worthy addition to the album.

Cold Highway is an enjoyable song that I wish was the last track on the remastered edition of Caribou as Step Into Christmas would have to be my least favourite Elton John song ever recorded. I generally dislike Christmas music as it has a tendency to be crass. Yes, that may insult some readers, but I absolutely hate it when an artist releases a single Christmas song on an otherwise excellent album as it tarnishes the experience. Artists should put out a dorky Christmas album, instead of polluting a regular release. How John could even be proud of this song, enough to let it see the light of day, is beyond me.

While Step Into Christmas may be complete garbage, Caribou is a solid and enjoyable album that should never be listened to right after Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. On its own, however, it expands John's catalogue with a few incredible tunes that any pop/rock star would be proud of.

For this review, I listened to the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition. While I found it to be well-mastered and sonically pleasing, I enjoyed Caribou far more when listening via headphones as I found the loudspeaker playback resulted in a sound that was a little too clinical, especially in the highs. It wasn't that it was a bad presentation, just that this mastering is well suited to those of you that have a nice headphone setup, perhaps connected to a dedicated DAC, such as the Oppo HA-2 that I personally find irresistible.

Before I let you go, dear reader, do you think Steve Urkel's character on the television sitcom Family Matters, was mimicked on John's high pants on the Caribou cover?

In all seriousness, it’s a great cover. Simple, but striking and effective!

Caribou is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Caribou is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds:


Rex Brown – Smoke On This... (Album Review)


Rex Brown – Smoke On This... (Album Review)

You may know him as the bassist from Pantera and Down, but despite his Heavy Metal roots, Brown has delivered an exceptional solo debut filled with killer blues-based hard rock tunes.

Listening to Smoke On This… gives me the impression of an album that while being unique is also influenced at times by Pantera's Cowboys From Hell and the sound signature Slash used for his solo album and further collaborations with Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators. That isn't to say plagiarism of any sort has occurred, but if you appreciate the aforementioned artists, you will thoroughly enjoy this album.

Sonically, the album is nicely mixed and mastered, despite pushing distorted elements to their limit. The one problem I have come across is on Johnny Kelly's drum track whereby the crunching of the cymbals is jarring on the senses. I would have preferred a slightly more open sound, thereby allowing the cymbals space in the soundstage to breathe and shimmer. It would be interesting to see if this same issue is prevalent on the vinyl release, or if due to the restricted vinyl mastering process, this distortion has been limited as the dynamic range most likely wouldn’t be as compressed.

Speaking of vinyl, that cover art is awesome and would look fantastic. I adore black and white photography and while it won't work with all album covers, it works perfectly in this instance as it captures the attitude of both the artist and recording.

Lone Rider gets the album off to an energetic start. The distracting element, however, is the aforementioned crunching cymbals. Otherwise, it’s an incredible song to commence the album with.

Crossing Lines has a great rhythm, but again the shrill sound of the cymbals are a little too forward in the mix and I feel it takes away from an otherwise solid tune.

Buried Alive has an incredible guitar twang introduction that builds into a blues-based rock tune that any musician would be proud of. Brown’s vocal presentation, not only on this track but across the entire album, is exceptional and feels perfectly suited to the associated musicality.

Train Song is amazing! Best song on the album without a doubt. Yes, I can hear the influence of Cowboys From Hell, but I love that song too. I don't know about you, but I enjoy music that offers similarities but has been completely restructured to present something new and evolutionary.

Get Yourself Alright has a mellon collie blues-rock sound. It is an impressive mix and offers incredible depth, reminding me of the work Julian Lennon did with his exceptional Photograph Smile album. Get Yourself Alright pushes the genre limits and is anything but another mere rock tune.

Fault Line is a lovely soft rock tune. Every musical element is perfectly positioned and I simply adore the interweaving vocal along with the gorgeous piano outro.

What Comes Around... is a little campy, especially in the chorus. However, if we call it a B-side, it’s a valued addition to the record.

Grace, while suiting the album, is a classic B-side.

So Into You is a solid rock song. Despite that, the overlapping lead and rhythm guitar confuses the senses as I’m unsure of which groove to connect with.

Best Of Me is a beautiful song! From the elegant beginning to the riff-driven chorus, to the mellow verse; every aspect of this song is perfect. While it may not suit everyone, the musical shifts are incredible and at no time does the song feel disjointed.

One Of These Days is a killer final track. It compels me to listen to the album again and hope that Brown will not only have success with this debut solo release but will continue to record new music.

Overall, Smoke On This... is an exceptional album and while a debut solo performance for Brown, this is one example that showcases how decades of experience can have a profound effect on one’s musicality.

I’m so enamoured by this release that I'm going to order a copy on vinyl; specifically, the limited edition clear version that includes the CD. I like it when vinyl records are shipped with a CD. It is simply a value-added proposition for the consumer.

Smoke On This... is also available as a standalone Vinyl release. Alternatively, you can purchase the album on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, the album can also be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.


Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Album Review)


Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Album Review)

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road needs no introduction as it is arguably Elton John's greatest commercial achievement. Although, I remain hesitant to call it his greatest recording as I feel that undermines the other incredible recordings he has made throughout his career. It also arbitrarily limits his musical influence to a particular era. Nevertheless, it is one of the greatest albums ever recorded and while I love the 2014 vinyl re-issue, I'm going to be using Greg Penny’s astonishingly good 5.1 Surround Sound DTS-HD Master Audio 24/96kHz edition for this review. The stereo versions of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, are incredible, but they simply can't compare and sound flat by comparison to the surround sound options. My advice is that if you have a good surround sound setup, consider purchasing either the SACD or Blu-ray Audio (High Fidelity Pure Audio – HFPA) release. You won’t regret it!

Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding has to be one of the greatest lead-in songs of any album ever recorded. I absolutely love it and from a surround sound perspective, I’m enveloped in the atmosphere that introduces the song. Exceptional! The soundstage completely surrounds you and each beat is felt with every aspect of your soul. The band is certainly present with you in the room, with John front and center. You will probably get tired of hearing me praise the surround sound mix, but you’ve really never experienced Goodbye Yellow Brick Road until you've been able to listen to it in surround sound. A bold statement, yes, but a true indication of how exceptional this recording and Greg Penny's surround mix is.

Candle In The Wind is pure gold. That piano, that drum beat, that vocal – it leaves me speechless! Even the 1997 version, altered lyrically for Princess Diana's funeral, is beyond reproach. It is a song made in heaven by two extremely talented men. Thank you, Elton and Bernie!

Bennie And The Jets is an awesome song, but I’ve never enjoyed the faux live audience element. However, it is less apparent in the surround sound mix as the audience noise is better positioned, slightly outside the soundstage and in the distance.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is sensational regardless of how you listen to it. The surround sound mix has a significant boost in the drums, resulting in an atmosphere where you can visualise the exact drum or cymbal being hit in the soundstage. In fact, all musical elements are perfectly placed in the soundstage. Pure perfection!

This Song Has No Title follows Goodbye Yellow Brick Road beautifully. It’s a rather raw recording, with no noticeable fanfare, but when you have a vocalist like John, sometimes you don't need much more than a piano and a minor musical accompaniment.

Grey Seal has a fantastic introduction, but I must confess that I’ve never really enjoyed the song. I find it is too shrill and it’s a little all-over-the-place from a composition standpoint.

Similarly, I've never developed a liking for Jamaica Jerk-Off. I won't skip the song, as the album wouldn't be the same without it, I just don't feel reggae and John go well together. Jamaica Jerk-Off sounds as though it was left over from another recording session, rather than being part of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sessions. Unfortunately, it doesn't grow on me the more I listen to it either.

I've Seen That Movie Too is a welcome change and depicts the style and tonality that I identify as being the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. It's a beautiful ballad, with an incredible soundstage, that thankfully isn't filled with unnecessary elements.

Sweet Painted Lady is a lovely song!

The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34) isn't my favourite song on the album, but I especially like it in surround sound as it sounds less sonically compressed, allowing the musical elements space to breathe. It has a great rhythm, but on vinyl, or even the high-res stereo mix, it doesn’t work for me. I only mention this as I find it to be an interesting variance that while I can explain my thoughts, I can’t fully comprehend how it is significantly different enough to allow me to appreciate the song.

Dirty Little Girl is an excellent rock song. As I’m listening, I keep thinking how I'd love to hear the Foo Fighters cover this song.

All The Girls Love Alice is a killer rock tune. Maybe the Foo should cover this one! Regardless, it is one of the best songs on the album and one of John’s best.

Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll) is a fun little tune and leads the listener beautifully into one of the greatest songs in rock and roll history; Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

Roy Rogers slows the album down again and sounds as though it would have been perfectly suited to Tumbleweed Connection. However, it doesn't sound out-of-place on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as it’s a lovely song that relaxes you following the intense pace of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

Social Disease is a great pop/rock song with an incredible country music twang. I love it!

Harmony closes the album beautifully, ensuring I’m still interested in listening to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road again. However, with a runtime exceeding 70 minutes, this double album, like all doubles, is difficult to listen to again in quick succession. Honestly, I think the 33.3rpm vinyl record got it right with a total runtime in the vicinity of 44 minutes. Long enough to enjoy, but not too long to tire of.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road deserves the praise it gets, although I maintain that it shouldn’t be singled out as John's major success for his greatness exceeds a single album.

By now, I'm sure stereo aficionados have plenty to say, but having listened to this album in stereo for years, in various formats, the surround sound version is the one that trumps all others. That isn't to say the stereo mix isn't extraordinary, just that the multichannel mix takes the album to another level of appreciation.

Some purists may even question if the artist intended for it to be heard in surround sound. From my perspective, that matters less than the fact that I enjoy the album more due to the multichannel mix. That said, there are times when I much prefer to listen on headphones and the stereo mix is perfectly immersive during those times.

For reference, the stereo mix I prefer on the High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) Blu-ray release is the DTS-HD Master Audio 24/96kHz. The reason for this preference over the Linear PCM (LPCM 24/96kHz) option is due to the fuller low end that is often associated with DTS. However, if I listen to the PCM version, it’s transparent with the vinyl reissue. Both are from the same 2014 remastering sessions, so it is good to see the only core difference is the slight shift in noise between the digital and analogue formats.

The 24/96kHz DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is, however, from the 2003 mastering sessions, making it of course different. While I certainly prefer this mix, as I believe it is the best rendition of the album I have ever heard, don't let that deter your interest in the stereo mixes. Honestly, if I had never purchased the HFPA Blu-ray edition, I would have been extremely happy with my vinyl copy.

While the artwork is beautifully replicated on the HFPA Blu-ray release, it is nothing like holding that trifold release in your hands. I often find myself telling my significant other that I’ll likely sell the vinyl as I prefer the Blu-ray release, but I'm lying to both of us as the artwork is equally important and I can't imagine parting with it.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is available on Vinyl, High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) Blu-ray, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered For iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, you can also enjoy Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on TIDAL Masters (24/96kHz MQA), Spotify and Apple Music.

There are also additional 40th Anniversary releases of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Deluxe Edition/Super Deluxe Edition) that are available to purchase and/or stream.

Other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds:


Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (Album Review)


Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (Album Review)

Bat Out Of Hell is an absolute classic and while there are few that would dismiss its importance to the history of recorded music, most of us would agree that it is a landmark album. It's a shame then that the sonic quality has never really lived up to the hype, but more on that later.

In 1993, Meat Loaf had once again exploded on the world's stage with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell and the monumentally popular lead single I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Both would herald my first experiences of Meat Loaf and I was immediately hooked. So much so that the acquisition of the album that started it all was all but guaranteed.

As I played the Bat Out Of Hell cassette, I remember being surprised that an album would have fewer than ten songs. You must remember that this was at the height the CD era when artists and record labels had a tendency to fill the capacity of the CD for no other reason than because they could. Sure, there were some exceptional albums that went for the 74-minute duration, but they were often the exception, rather than the rule. Despite this, I quickly learnt that the song limitations on Bat Out Of Hell were due to the approximate 44-minute runtime of the vinyl LP and the fact that Meat Loaf often defied the radio-friendly runtime. 

Sadly, the cassette no longer exists in my collection. It became a casualty of the MP3 era. Yes, dear reader, I was a bloody idiot! The most unfortunate aspect of this move to digital convenience was that I’ve never been able to find a comparable copy, on any format. While I acknowledge the placebo effect in relation to my memories of how the cassette sounded, I have found that many of the currently available editions lack midrange with excessive treble. It is frustrating and reminds me of my beloved ABBA collection. Some releases are excellent, most are substandard, usually due to varied masters and master tape quality.

A few years ago, I decided to pick up a vinyl release as much for the artwork as the promised return to analog sound. Well, let's just say the CD-quality edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is significantly better. That's putting it mildly as Lucifer himself wouldn't allow the Simply Vinyl pressing to enter hell. It truly is that bad!

The catalogue number for the aforementioned atrocity is SVLP 0086/82419. Simply Vinyl even had the audacity to claim that it was pressed on Virgin Vinyl, a fact that is a completely inaccurate as the surface noise alone is off the charts. Even recycled vinyl can sound adequate if the record has been mastered and pressed with respect to the limitations of the medium and the original recording. Besides the poor sonic quality, the Simply Vinyl release is pressed so poorly that the lead song, Bat Out Of Hell, starts about a second later than it should.

I could go on and on about how pathetic the pressing is and how much extraneous treble is present. I could also detail how the record lacks soul, drive, and emphasis, not to mention musicality, but I think you get the idea. Simply avoid this pressing at all costs.

As a result, I won’t be using the Simply Vinyl release for this review as it would tarnish my thoughts on the songs themselves. I will subsequently be using the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition as the basis for this review. It still isn’t what I would consider as perfect, but it offers a decent quality that allows me to enjoy Bat Out Of Hell.

Bat Out Of Hell is a killer track to commence the album with. It is the epitome pop/rock opera, along with Paradise By The Dashboard Light of course, and I simply adore it.

You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) has the classic Jim Steinman spoken intro that works well with the song, but I find the musicality in this track to be too campy and rather dated. That is not to say that I dislike it, but this song could have easily come from Abba's catalogue, especially with the backing vocal style. Regardless, once the song gets going, I find it captivating and feel the need to sing-a-long.

Heaven Can Wait is simply gorgeous!

All Revved Up With No Place To Go is a little too jazzy for my liking. Despite that, I don’t dislike the song and will once again belt out every chorus and verse. 

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad is pure Meat Loaf. Just like Heaven Can Wait, I thoroughly enjoy songs that highlight Meat Loaf's vocal presentation. While he’s been criticised in recent years for poor live performances, there is no shame on this track. He knocked it out of the park with Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad; one of my all-time favourites.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light has a reputation that needs no introduction, Pure perfection from a songwriting and musical perspective. It's a shame it lacks midrange while also needing a little boost in the low end. Regardless, it would be in my Top 100 songs of all-time, if I had such a list.

For Crying Out Loud is another of those exceptional vocal-driven tunes that are perfect for Meat Loaf. While we all likely gravitate to the well-known, face-paced, rock tunes on the album, I personally adore this song and the gradual build-up is pure gold. Just as Bat Out Of Hell was the perfect song to begin the album with, For Crying Out Loud is the ultimate closer, encouraging me to listen to the album again and stay within Meat Loaf's catalogue for the rest of the day.

Bat Out Of Hell is one of the greatest albums ever recorded; even if not from a sonic standpoint. While Meat Loaf gets most of the credit, Jim Steinman needs to be remembered as the silent but extremely talented writer that was as important to Meat Loaf’s success as Bernie Taupin was to Elton John. Yes, both Meat Loaf and Elton John have worked with other songwriters, but it could be argued that their best work occurred when working with these key contributors.

Without doubt, I need to source a better original for my physical music collection. I have been considering the Analogue Spark SACD release as it is reported to be very good and amongst the best masterings of the album. However, as I was finalising this review, I noticed that Friday Music has just re-issued the album as a 40th Anniversary Edition on red vinyl. Yes, I’m sceptical of another vinyl edition as well. However, it is important to note that this edition has been mastered by Joe Reagoso and Kevin Gray at RTI. Those names alone are akin to royalty in audiophile circles and based on my prior experience with Friday Music pressings, I’m almost tempted to order a copy.

Do you have a preferred edition of this classic? If so, please let us know in the comments. 

Bat Out Of Hell is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Bat Out Of Hell is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.


Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (Album Review)


Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (Album Review)

As far as album titles go, this is one of my favourites as it conjures up a variety of thoughts that not only apply to the literal inference of the statement, but the showmanship element portrayed via the cover art.

From a musical perspective, there is much to like here as many of the songs have gone on to become staples in the Elton John catalogue. However, sonically I find the album challenging to enjoy as it sounds rather concealed. For reference, the edition that this review is based on is the 1995 Mercury remaster available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It simply lacks a lively approach and also sounds incredibly flat by comparison to John's other records from this era. It simply isn't mastered well, yet the classic tunes that I know well, and have repeatedly heard on various compilations, sound incredible on John's various best of/greatest hits releases. With this in mind, I feel confident in saying that the remaster didn’t enhance the album. It’s a shame really, considering the calibre of songs found on Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.

Daniel is a gorgeous ballad that truly showcases the smooth, yet gruff, elements that are part of John's vocal presentation. Musically, it is also lovely, it’s just disappointing that the remaster is not stronger as there is a greater performance hidden from the listener’s ears. Regardless, Daniel is thoroughly enjoyable.

Teacher I Need You is EPIC! It’s a fun song that works extremely well for John's style; similar to Crocodile Rock in that regard. Sadly, the percussion elements lack the depth I believe they should have, resulting in a lacklustre backbeat.

Elderberry Wine is a great song, but again let down by what can only be described as 'mushy' drums.

Blues For My Baby And Me is a simply gorgeous song. As I listen to it, I can't help but wonder if Billy Joel has ever covered this song in one of their double-billed live performances as it would be perfectly suited to his style. Perhaps it is just me, but the way John sings this song is similar to Joel's own vocal dexterity. Subsequently, the casual listener could be forgiven for assuming Blues For My Baby And Me is a Billy Joel song, rather than an Elton John classic.

Midnight Creeper is a solid song, with a catchy melody, but it isn't anything to write home about.

Have Mercy On The Criminal is an incredible song, one of the best on the album. Quite frankly, it is one of John's greatest recordings.

I'm Gonna Be A Teenage Idol has a fantastic groove that ensures your body will be moving throughout. Turn the volume up and enjoy. I love it!

Texas Love Song is an enjoyable tune that grows on you the more you listen to the album.

Crocodile Rock is one of my all-time favourites. It’s simply a fun song and sometimes that is all you need.

High Flying Bird is a classic B-side, but it is beautiful in its own right and is one of the best songs on the album.

Screw You (Young Man's Blues) is another fun song. I'd love to see the Foo Fighters cover this song as I can only imagine Dave Grohl’s vocal presentation, especially in the chorus, would be priceless.

Jack Rabbit (Single Version) is a bonus song that was left off the core album and should have been left off the remaster. It simply doesn’t add any substance to the album or John's career.

Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again) isn’t the strongest song in the lineup either. Sometimes I find bonus tracks detract from the core album experience and that is certainly the case in this instance. It would be nice to have these tracks separate, perhaps on a second CD. Unfortunately, streaming services have yet to come up with an adequate way to handle such a problem. Yes, they often include the standard album release with the Deluxe Edition but this remaster was never separated as such in the CD era, hence the good, the bad, and the ugly are mashed together. Vinyl collectors can, however, rejoice as the 2017 reissue has the original album track listing.

Skyline Pigeon (Piano Version) is gorgeous and while this is my preferred version, the original that is available on Empty Sky has a rawer production that works equally well.

Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is another incredible album by Elton John, but in comparison to his other recordings, it is sonically inferior. Perhaps it could be partially contributed to the original recording style, but I still feel it was the remaster that has tarnished the musical brilliance. That said, I've never heard an original pressing of this album and I may be in error with the above statement. Although, I can’t ignore the fact that many of John’s compilations present the songs in a far more pleasing manner with a larger soundstage and overall presence. Interestingly, Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player was never mastered to SACD and to my knowledge there has never been a high-resolution edition released. I only mention this as many of John's other albums from this era have received the high-res treatment and I wonder if the original recording is lacking or if the tapes from the original recording/mastering sessions are beyond repair. If anyone has any knowledge in this area, I’d love to hear from you. Regardless, I’ll certainly be interested to listen to the album again once it is available in MQA via TIDAL Hi-Fi.

In the meantime, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.


Big Star - Radio City (Remastered) [Album Review]


Big Star - Radio City (Remastered) [Album Review]

Radio City is one album I have a love/hate relationship with as I find that, unlike their #1 Record, Radio City demands the listener's attention. Occasionally, I'll want to listen while performing some mundane task, yet I find myself underwhelmed and bored. Yet if I sit, with no other distractions, with my eyes closed, I am blown away by the musicality present on Radio City. Yes, it is a bizarre dichotomy that I am at a loss to fully explain. Perhaps one could point to the fact that in the 70s you would sit and listen, therefore it could be said that the music from this era presents a more complex composition, thereby demanding one’s attention. While there is certainly some validity in this aforementioned statement, one could also suggest the songs are too similar, thereby causing them to blend into a wall-of-sound rather than distinctly unique songs. I may never get to the bottom of my love/hate relationship with Radio City, but I do love that it continues to challenge my thoughts and appreciation of music.

O My Soul is a great song that sets the tone of the album. You will feel the need to move as your soul will intertwine with a song that is beautifully recorded and mixed. There is a lot to love here, and this is only the first song on the album. Amazing!

Life Is White has a fantastic rhythm. Sometimes that is all you need for a great song.

Way Out West is one of my favourite Big Star songs. Actually, it would be in my Top 100 songs from the 70s if I had such a list. Way Out West is musical perfection in every sense of the word and is the true definition of power pop.

What's Going Ahn is a rather melancholy composition and it is only after dedicated, repeat listens, that the song comes into its own and can be seen as truly revolutionary. It’s stunningly beautiful and one of the best songs of the 70s.

You Get What You Deserve has a gorgeous musical twang. I love it!

Mod Lang has a grungy feel that works well as an independent song, but I feel is not suited to the album. It is, however, a solid B-side.

Back Of A Car returns us to a style that I feel is more characteristic of Big Star. It reminds me of the tonality and rhythm that would be adopted by many bands such as Crowded House. You can also hear a little of The Beatles in this song. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the influence musicians have on each other, regardless of era.

Daisy Glaze is stunningly beautiful, due in part to the slow tempo throughout much of the song. Yet as the tempo increases, the incredible performance does not falter and frankly only gets better. Absolutely amazing!

She's A Mover has a great rhythm. You'll be toe tapping and head bopping from the first note. The song is raw in its musicality, but that style was very common in the era and reminds one of numerous Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes.

September Gurls is a solid song. Nothing to write home about, but not all songs have to be noteworthy in order to create an exceptional album experience.

Morpha Too is short, unique, and intriguing. I adore it, but I can't explain why. Take a listen and see what you think. Does it leave you speechless?

I'm In Love With A Girl is gorgeous. A perfect love song!

O My Soul (Single Mix) is excellent as it drastically shortens the album version. However, it isn't that the length of the original was problematic, I just feel the condensed version enhances the song. Interestingly, this edition has some major clipping issues as if it has been pushed too far. It’s a shame considering this isn't present in the original mix. Regardless, I'm glad this edition exists as it does compel me to listen to the album again and stay within Big Star’s catalogue. For reference, the re-issued vinyl release maintains the original tracking and I feel I’m In Love With A Girl would also close the album out perfectly.

For this review, I listened to the 2009 remaster on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Sonically, it was beautiful, despite the clipping on the final song. As a result, I look forward to ordering a vinyl copy from mataurecords.com.au. That said, I wasn't overly pleased with the vinyl re-issue of the #1 Record as I referenced in my January 2017 review. Alas, the collector within will likely find a way to justify the acquisition as Radio City is worth adding to my collection – especially for dedicated vinyl listening sessions.

Radio City is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Radio City is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Other Big Star reviews by Subjective Sounds:


Elton John - Honky Château (Album Review)


Elton John - Honky Château (Album Review)

Is it just me or was Elton John's classic era superior to anything that he would do post the 70s? While I'm obviously being frivolous, I'm constantly astonished by just how incredible his music was throughout the 70s. Hence, if it amazes me in 2018, I can only imagine how people would have felt listening to Honky Château when released in 1972.

Honky Cat needs no introduction with its funk tonality. I don't know about you, but I simply adore turning the volume up when this song starts. It is masterfully recorded and mixed, subsequently resulting in a song that is catchy, but not campy. You will likely, as I do, find yourself singing along. In fact, it is so catchy that once heard, it plays like a broken record in your subconscious. It's absolutely brilliant!

Mellow as the title suggests, slows the album down a little. Normally this type of shift doesn't work well, but Honky Cat is so upbeat that you almost need a downbeat to rebalance the senses. Nevertheless, Mellow is a gorgeous song that can be experienced enjoyably on its own, or as part of the album experience. However, the final note at the end of the song sounds prematurely cut on my 1995 remastered CD. I've tried it various CD players and the same effect is preset upon each play. It is akin to a vinyl dropout. Interestingly, it is not present on the TIDAL Hi-Fi equivalent. I find these variations intriguing and can only suggest it was a pressing fault with the CD I have. My edition was pressed in the UK and I wonder if the dropout is also present on the US edition. If anyone has any thoughts about this, l'd love to hear from you.

I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself is pure vocal gold. John’s vocals shift pitch seamlessly and you can't help but move rhythmically when this song comes on. Utilising a similar upbeat funk as Honky Cat, I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself is addictive and is one of the best songs on the album. While the lyrical content and tongue-in-cheek approach may detract some listeners, especially with its somewhat irreverent comic approach, one must remember the different era in which the song was written and recorded. Regardless, you can't please everyone and if you're offended by the song then I can only suggest you don't listen to it.

Susie (Dramas) has a compelling rhythm that will get you toe-tapping, but it isn’t a standout song on the album.

Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time) is the quintessential Elton John song. While I could ramble on about just how exceptional this song is, all I really need to say is music doesn't get much better than this.

Salvation is simply beautiful.

This version of Slave is the more relaxed rendition that was, of course, included on the original album with the later version appearing only on digital editions post the 1995 remastering sessions. At this tempo it has a real Rolling Stones feel to it and I must admit that I prefer this version to the alternative edition.

Amy is a B-side with an incredible sound stage and musicality. You can certainly hear the influence of Mick Jagger in John's vocal performance. It is a unique merging that I find absolutely appealing. I especially enjoy the ending as the instrumental timbre rings out beautifully.

Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters is one of my all-time favourite songs. The first time I heard it was on John's 1989 compilation, The Collection. I subsequently became immersed with Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters and would place it on repeat for hours on end. It is really that good!

Hercules is a little more upbeat, but I can't help but think that Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters would have been a better choice for the final track on the original album. It isn't that Hercules is bad, the musicality is off the chart and that drum beat alone is incredible. It is just that Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters is so relaxing, by comparison, that it would have been nice to allow the mind to sit for a moment at the end of the record. Nevertheless, it wasn't meant to be and the 1995 remaster would extend the album with the Alternative Version of Slave.

Slave (Alternative Version), as I mentioned earlier, isn't my favourite rendition. The tempo shift is interesting, but John sounds about two beats short of a chipmunk. I'm sure some of you would love it, but I find the tempo is simply too fast.

Overall, Honky Château is a compelling album that I can easily listen to for hours. While it is true that that statement could be made regarding most of John’s albums, Honky Château has enough variety, in tempo alone, to never allow the listener to become distracted or wish they were listening to something else.

This review is based on listening to the 1995 remastered CD. An SACD version, with a multi-track surround sound mix, is also available, but I don't feel overly compelled to grab a copy as the mastering of this edition is beautiful and really showcases just how good the standard Redbook CD format can be.

Honky Château is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Honky Château is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.