Deluxe Edition, Limited Edition
3 CD, Box Set
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Audio CD, Limited Edition, November 10, 2017
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Elton John Diamonds Greatest Hits Collection 3CD limited edition box-set contains 34 tracks over two discs, plus 16 bonus tracks of personal favorites curated by Elton himself. Also contains 72 page hardback book containing annotations for the stories from each song plus a set of 5 postcard illustration of Elton. This hits compilation is out on November 10th.
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The 2-disc version duplicates 27 of the 34 tracks on “Greatest Hits 1970-2002”, which has been selling well for over a decade. To my utter disappointment, pop radio stopped playing new Elton around that time. He has had several more releases, many quite good, but chart success has been limited to the Adult Contemporary chart. Only four songs released since ’02 are included here.
Disc 3 clearly made this worthwhile for me, especially when the price went down briefly a couple of months ago. This CD adds another four of “1970-2002”’s songs (“The One”, “Believe”, “Written in the Stars”, and “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore”), leaving only the original version of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “Blessed”, and shockingly, “Levon” missing. This package does include the #1 George Michael/Elton duet version of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”.
Disc 3 includes hits and rarities that have generally been left off other hits compilations. However, they were apparently chosen by Elton himself. At least two of these, to me, are among his very best. “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” is glorious cotton-candy soul produced by Thom Bell with backing by the venerable Spinners. It reached #9 in 1979 and crossed over to the R&B top 40. The heartbreaking “Empty Garden”, from 1982, should have done much better than #13. I have read enough to know that many listeners didn’t realize the song was about John Lennon’s murder, despite this concise put-down of his killer: “it’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain.”
Maybe someone besides me cares about the first-time availability of the 7" version of "Victim of Love", the excellent title track and only worthwhile cut from EJ’s otherwise-chilly 1979 disco LP. Also great: the blistering “Pinball Wizard” from the “Tommy” soundtrack; "Part Time Love", actual hit from 1978's "A Single Man" bumped from the 2-disc version in favor of moody instrumental “Song For Guy”, which only Bubbled Under the U.S. chart; "Kiss the Bride", the third (actually second) single from "Two Low For Zero", is great fun--a bride's ex’s salacious thoughts about her during her wedding to someone else; the Dionne/Stevie/Gladyswhostoletherecord/Elton "That's What Friends Are For"; and 1973's awesome Christmas single "Step Into Christmas".
No collection could cover all EJ’s 60+ hits and countless album tracks. I would note four unfortunate omissions. One is, of course, "Levon." Then there’s the rare-on-CD "Ego", a non-LP single from 1978 that had its own promotional film and some great hooks but only reached #34. Third is a minor 1977 hit which now remains the only Elton 45 unavailable on CD in its single version: "Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance)". It’s over six minutes long on “Blue Moves” but the 3-minute edit, in this case, shows that less can be more. The fourth is the underappreciated “Healing Hands” from 1989’s “Sleeping With the Past”. It actually did better than “Sacrifice” here in the U.S. but seems to have lost favor since then.
The 3-disc version of “Diamonds” includes a nice hardcover book with liner notes and a picture-sleeve replica devoted to each selection. The liner notes are interesting. There is also, as a cushy extra, a set of postcards with nifty images of Elton. I also find the latest remastering on this whole set exceptionally good.
I would recommend this collection to anyone, who is truly a fan. I'm sure it was difficult to decide what songs would be included. I think it's a great cross section. Several hours to sit back and enjoy the memories and also the new songs too.
I hope Elton John continues to make music, for many years to come.
A fan always!
The first two discs cover his biggest hits, but does leave out a few (‘Levon’ being the biggest loss) and disc two continues in the same fashion in chronological order. Disc three contains 16 songs that Elton finds to be his favorites and its an interesting and varied group. From ‘Mama Can’t Buy You Love’ to ‘Believe’ to ‘Step Into Christmas’.
The package is nicely packaged in a blue cardboard box. Inside are the three discs, a 72-page booklet with interesting narrative and some great photos and art work. Each song has chart positions in UK and the USA. Each song also has a paragraph giving cool info about the history of the song and the players. Its as detailed as possible and I love that kind of stuff.
There are also five artful postcards which I simply do not understand. I have seen this extra in other box sets and it really serves no real purpose other than filler (in my opinion). However, for the price, it is a great way to have nearly all of Elton John’s best hits. All you are missing are the album cuts (but then again, most fans have his albums).
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