Live in Australia [Remastered]

by: Elton John

Since this 1987 release is the album that brought "Candle in the Wind" to the charts for the first time -- the song first released on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and the song that John later reworked as a tribute to Princess Diana -- it's easy to think of this as a fairly standard live album, even if it finds John and his band backed by an 88-piece orchestra. After all, that hit became so ubiquitous, and associated with this record, that it seems that it's just a hits record, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, there are some perennials here -- "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," "Tiny Dancer," "Your Song," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" -- but this is a record that's tailored to the fanatic, leaning heavily on his sublime material from the early '70s. And since those records prominently featured Paul Buckmaster's lush string charts, these orchestral-graced versions never feel overly bombastic (although the horns may occupy more space than they should). That doesn't make Live in Australia necessary, of course, but it's far more interesting, even vital, than you might think, and far more vital than comparable live albums by his peers. In fact, hardcore fans who prefer 11-17-70 may be surprised how much they enjoy this record. [The 1998 reissue -- which didn't appear in the U.S. until 2001 -- contains no bonus tracks, but has full artwork, extensive liner notes, and remastered sound.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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