Sound — 10
"Elton John could have released an album of tap dancing and it still would have gone Gold or better." That's what the liner notes in the 1995 reissue of "Captain Fantastic" say. And, honestly, that album of tap would be pretty damn interesting considering it was Elton. All of his albums have a signature sound, one that seems to dominate the entire album. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" challenged that, "Caribou" finalized it, and "Captain Fantastic" emphasized it. Elton was on top of his game when he recorded this album. "Captain Fantastic" is like a wall of sound knocking you to the ground, and then keeping you interested thoughout the whole thing. Each song is a treasure, and a work of art. From the country inspired title track, to the epic ballad "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", to Nigel Olsson's thunderous drumming on "Better Off Dead", and to the incredible ending of "We All Fall In Love Sometimes"/"Curtains". Inspiring, and, well, fantastic.
Lyrics — 10
Some critics whine that Bernie Taupin's lyrics don't make any sense. So? They're not supposed to ("Solar Prestige A Gammon"? C'mon, now). Just listen to the damn music, I say. This album is different in the sense that it's personal. Elton, through Bernie's lyrics, tells the story of their early career as writers. Each song paints the picture vividly, and you almost feel like you're there, experiencing every triumph and heartbreak. Bernie sets the characters up, Elton is the Captain, and he's the Brown Dirt Cowboy. The one song, however, that describes the situation the best is "Bitter Fingers". Never have I heard such sarcasm, "no more long days hocking hunks of garbage". The song that gets me every time is "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". I know that's the "hit" from the album, but it's so moving. The music, the lyrics, and Elton's voice. God, what a voice. Every ballad is melancholy, and every rocker couldn't rock harder, all because of the voice.
Overall Impression — 10
Even though "Captain Fantastic" isn't as commercially famous as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", it's just as good, if not better. Elton and Bernie are at their peak, and it shows through the music. Each song moves with a fluidness and grace that is unmatched. If "Yellow Brick Road" is Elton's "Sgt. Pepper's" then "Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy" is his "White Album" or his "Abbey Road". The unsung album that rivals its predecessors in all ways possible. Each album has something going for it, but "Captain Fantastic" has the best thing going for it, it's a timeless piece of music.