Sunday, May 1, 2016

86. Elton John - Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

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This work is derived not from the original album cover art design but from the album's promotional poster that came with the album, released in 1975. Icons on the bottom left and bottom right of the
original image have  been removed and portions  on the sides have been extended with the use of the Liquify filter.  The contrast and brightness  were the adjusted and the whole image was stretched
and sharpened with the use of Crosshatch.

Folded at centre with the artist's name added at lower right and without the calligraphy at the bottom,  the original poster served as the album's  gatefold cover.

The album cover art by Alan Aldridge  features images of Elton John,  Bernie Taupin and the band (animated  elements of the artwork were used in a 30-second  television commercial  celebrating the
release of the album).  The front panel shows Elton breaking out of a dangerously dreary cityscape astride his piano while the back of the cover shows Bernie writing in a somewhat  protected pastoral
bubble. Keen-eyed fans can also identify Elton’s first music publisher Dick James and Bernie’s then-wife Maxine in the intricate illustration.

Bruce David Janu on The Vinyl Voyage: "When I was a kid, I used to check out record  albums from the public library. I was perusing  the LP bins one day and came
across Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.  At the time I was perhaps 10 years old and knew nothing about Elton John,  other than the crazy outfits and
sunglasses he wore.  

Anyway, I checked out Captain Fantastic not because it was Elton John, but because the cover was so awesome. Although I hadn't yet been exposed to Hieronymus
Bosch, the cover must have been influenced by the paintings of the 15th century artist.  When I studied art in college I remember looking at The Garden of Earthy
Delights and immediately thinking of Captain Fantastic.  Like Bosch, the cover to Captain Fantastic is filled with other-worldly creatures: birdmen, naked bodies,
giant fish, men carrying large timepieces, creatures pooping gold. The only thing missing from the Elton cover is a man playing a flute out of his ass.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy came out in an era when album art mattered and bands spent a great deal of time and energy making the album art
part of the entire experience.  The packaging was almost as  important as the contents.  First, the introduction of compact discs diminished album art importance
and the evolution  to digital  completely killed this  time-honoured tradition.  The art of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy  could never be shrunk to a
small LCD screen. Indeed, an album like Captain Fantastic would not even be produced today."

This is the original poster art.

This is the original album front cover.

No. 158, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; No. 173, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000.

Original album art design and poster by Alan Aldridge. Album produced by Gus Dudgeon. MCA (USA), DJM (UK) 1975.

Written, according to lyricist Bernie Taupin, in chronological order,  Captain Fantastic is a concept album that  gives an autobiographical  glimpse at the struggles John (Captain Fantastic) and Taupin
(the Brown Dirt Cowboy) had in the early years of their musical careers in London (from 1967 to 1969). The lyrics and accompanying photo booklet are infused with a specific sense of place and time
that would otherwise be rare in John's music. John composed the music on a ship voyage from the UK to New York.

"Someone Saved My Life Tonight",  the only single released from the album  (and a number 4 hit on the US Pop Singles chart),  is a semi-autobiographical  story about John's disastrous engagement to
Linda Woodrow,  and his related 1969 suicide attempt.  The "Someone" refers to Long John Baldry,  who convinced him to break off the engagement rather than ruin his music career for an unhappy
marriage. It was viewed by Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau as the best track on the album: "As long as Elton John can bring forth one performance per album on the order of 'Someone Saved My Life
Tonight', the chance remains that he will become something more than the great entertainer he already is and go on to make a lasting contribution to rock." wikipedia

(B) (Gotta Get a) Meal Ticket - Better Off Dead - Writing - We All Fall in Love Sometimes - Curtains

"We All Fall in Love Sometimes" live from on YouTube.



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