Monday, July 30, 2007

Better Off Dead

The CD liner notes for the Captain Fantastic album describe this track as sounding like Queen- and that's somewhat valid- but the charging, staccato piano riffs and crashing, bashing drums, along with John's clipped singing, reminds me of nothing less than something conceived for an operetta by Gilbert & Sullivan.

Of course, Captain Fantastic is a concept album, said concept being vignettes-in-song dealing with the early days of the John/Taupin songwriting team up to the 1968 release of Empty Sky. This particular track seems to describe witnessing some sort of violent event, and being moved to write about it, certainly something which Taupin (and many other songwriters) would have done.

Altogether, an effective, if overlooked track. Well done, but Olsson's percussion becomes overbearing after a while.

5 comments:

Drew said...

I read an interview with Elton about this time, in which he discussed how he and Taupin worked together. He said when Taupin handed him the lyrics, there was a notation on the paper, "a la John Prine?" Elton thought, "This is NOTHING like John Prine!" and went the Gilbert & Sullivan route.
Still, if you read the lyrics, think of Prine's voice, and try to force the memory of the actual song out of your head, it kind of works.

Johnny B said...

Ha! Actually, I can hear it, taken in a "Fish and Whistle" kind of tempo perhaps. That's cool- I hadn't read that.

I think it would be funny to hear Prine sing it as it was recorded, though...

brendan said...

I never thought of the John Prine connection, but on a quick listen it's definitely there. It isn't too bold to posit a connection between Queen and Gilbert & Sullivan either, since Freddy Mercury always named them as a big influence.

Johnny B said...

With Queen, I think it's more Sullivan than Gilbert, but it's definitely there in their music.

Vinyl said...

This song rocks! ROCKS! I love this song.... I saw him play it in concert and I was stoked....