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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Concert > Elton John - Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Deluxe Edition CD Set)

Elton John – Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Deluxe Edition CD Set)


Sound: B     Music: A-     Bonus Concert CD Sound: B+     Music: B+



Following the remarkable Super Audio CD release of Elton John’s Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975), Island has decided to issue a CD-only set from Universal’s consistently significant Deluxe Edition series.  Though it is a shame that the first disc is not the same SACD issued independently, it does have House Of Cards as a bonus track, while the second CD is a concert from June 21, 1975 from the “Midsummer Music” series at London, England’s Wembley Stadium.  For my thoughts on the original album, you read my SACD review at:






The original album tracks on CD 1, repeated live in the same order on CD 2, are:


1)     Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

2)     Tower Of Babel

3)     Bitter Fingers

4)     Tell Me When The Whistle Blows

5)     Someone Saved My Life Tonight

6)     (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket

7)     Better Off Dead

8)     Writing

9)     We All Fall In Love Sometimes

10)  Curtains


Bonus Tracks on CD 1 are:


11)  Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (with Dr. Winston O’Boogie & His Reggae Guitars (aka John Lennon))

12)  One Day (At A Time)

13)  Philadelphia Freedom

14)  House Of Cards



The last song is not bad, playing on the theme familiar from the title.  I would have still rather had SACD’s DSD tracks and wonder why this was not included on the SACD in the first place.  As for the concert, it captures John at his prime just as the album is coming out, including some very Rock-heavy interpretations of all the tracks.  That will make fans happy.  This also applied to the extra concert tracks here, Pinball Wizard (done in the better style and arrangement form the film, instead of the lame Who-soundalike John cut later) and a version of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting that is a nice change from the studio version.  If the concert is not enough, know that the PCM 2.0 16Bit/44.1kHz Stereo sound form both CDs are good, with CD 1 as good as the PCM tracks form the SACD, but no match for either of the much higher sound definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) tracks (2.0 or 5.1) available.  CD 2 sounds even better and should have been in an SACD as well, with great bass and better, thicker sound than the studio album.


There are some slight limits in the sound around its edges here and there, but a great recording just the same.  Best of all for this set, outside of the CDs themselves, more extras than usual have been included with the fold-and-slide case.  This is in the form of not only more photos and memorabilia all over the packaging, but more than just a booklet in the booklet section.  You get a foldout reproduction poster, miniature lyrics booklet from the period, similar miniature booklet of random memorabilia and the like dubbed “Scraps” and a booklet with all-new liner notes. 


This is great material for fans and the nostalgic, while the concert is one of the few from John’s classical era available anywhere in any format.  John and long-time writing partner Bernie Taupin are considering a sequel album.  If they think they can make that work, they should go for it.  Until then, you have two collectible versions of Captain Fantastic to consider.  I would still go with the SACD, but the extras here are going to be hard for many to resist.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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