Elton John's three-decade career has seldom run dry of pop hits, whether they're the radio staples of the '70s or the stage and screen anthems of his latter days. This two-CD set serves as a perfect primer for both eras. Focusing on the former Reginald Dwight's heyday, Disc 1 reinforces just how well his long-standing creative relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin has withstood time. "Crocodile Rock," the duo's first chart-topper, may have been a silly ode to the '50s, but the pair's impressive breadth of subject matter included nods to Marilyn Monroe ("Candle in the Wind"), tennis pro Billie Jean King ("Philadelphia Freedom"), and, of course, love's redemptive qualities ("Someone Saved My Life Tonight"). "Benny and the Jets," "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)," and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" have become classic-rock standards alongside "Tiny Dancer," used to devastating effect in Cameron Crowe's 2000 movie Almost Famous.
Disc 2 delves into John's '80s and '90s pop, including Top 40 hits "I Guess That's why They Call It the Blues" and "Sacrifice," and also highlights his forays into Disney soundtracks ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight," "Circle of Life" from The Lion King
) and Broadway (the LeAnn Rimes duet "Written in the Stars" from Aida
). The inclusion of the '70s-flavored "I Want Love" and "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore," culled from John's 2001 outing with Taupin, Songs from the West Coast
, shows how the legend has come full circle. Those quick enough to snatch up initial pressings of this compilation are rewarded with a four-track bonus disc that includes a gorgeous, previously unreleased duet of "Your Song" with Italian tenor Alessandro Safina
, complete with a symphonic arrangement and a children's choir.