Where To Start With... Elton John
The words 'legend' and 'icon' are often casually thrown around in reference to this singer or that musician, but in the case of Sir Elton Hercules John, to use his full (and fully spectacular) stage name, both are entirely justified.
If the available statistics are to be believed – and we've no reason to assume otherwise – Elton John ranks as the fifth highest-selling recording artist in history. With more than fifty Top 40 singles in the UK, another 50 in the U.S. and a fairly astonishing seven consecutive No.1 albums on the Billboard chart, only The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna have shifted more units than Watford Football Club's most famous supporter. That's without even mentioning his work on Broadway and West End hits like The Lion King, Aida and Billy Elliott: The Musical. Not bad for a lad called Reg whose career began at a pub piano at the age of 15.
In a career spanning more than five decades, there isn't much that Elton John hasn't achieved. Induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame? Check. His own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame? Of course he has. Wins at the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Tony's? You betcha. Ivor Novello Awards? Pffft, please, he's running out of places to put them.
As celebration of this long and distinguished career in music, this week sees the arrival of career-spanning greatest hits collection featuring many of his most famous songs. Diamonds arrives in stores today and includes a cross-section of hits from the 1970s right up to the present day. A standard CD edition features 34 tracks, a 2LP version carries a more modest 21, but if you want to go all out then there's also a deluxe, triple-CD box set available containing a whopping 51 tracks, a set of postcards and a 72-page hardcover book featuring words from Elton and his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.
All three versions hit the shelves in stores today and to mark the occasion we've picked out five highlights from Elton's gargantuan back catalogue as a tribute to some of his very best moments...
The song that can be credited as getting the ball rolling on Elton John's staggeringly successful career, 'Your Song' wasn't his first single, but it was certainly the one that brought him to the attention of the masses and marked him out as a singular talent. More than 40 years after its initial release, it still sounds just as great now as it did then.
'Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)'
Arguably one of the best song titles from any artist of any era, this belter from Elton's seminal 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road proves that he's just as capable of rocking out as he is writing a weepy ballad. An absolute classic, and this live version is great too.
Featured on Elton's fourth album Madman Across the Water, 'Tiny Dancer' remains one of Elton's most enduring hits and has been featured on the soundtracks to numerous films, perhaps most notably in a scene from Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.
'I'm Still Standing'
Released in 1983 and featured on the album Too Low For Zero, 'I'm Still Standing' was accompanied by a music video which features none other than Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli, who camps it up nicely in some very choice outfits. The song isn't bad either.
If you put a gun to our heads and forced us to pick just one song from Elton's vast back catalogue, it'd probably have to be this. A timeless classic which, even in such a crowded field, has every right to be considered Elton's finest moment.