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!
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