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As Elton John’s ‘Caribou’ turns 50, Bernie Taupin says it didn’t “measure up”

The Rocket Record Company

Elton John‘s album Caribou turns 50 years old Friday: It was released in the U.K. on June 28, 1974. It topped the chart and produced two big hit singles, but looking back, the guy who co-wrote it  — Bernie Taupin — doesn’t think it’s his and Elton’s best work. In fact, he thinks people have the wrong idea about a lot of the albums he and Elton released in the ’70s.

By 1974 Elton was a huge superstar, and he was also incredibly prolific. In ’74, he released Caribou and a Greatest Hits album, which both hit #1, and in ’75 he released Rock of the Westies and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, both of which also hit #1. But with that kind of output — plus nonstop touring — something had to give, and according to Taupin, it was the quality of the music.

“I don’t think Caribou or Rock of the Westies are great albums,” Taupin tells ABC Audio. “They’ve got good tracks on them.” Indeed, Caribou had “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “The Bitch Is Back,” while Rock of the Westies had “Island Girl” and “Grow Some Funk of Your Own.”

But, Taupin notes, “People seem to lump that whole ’70s collective together and they always say, ‘Oh,’ y’know, the ’70s records were the classic albums.’ Well, there were some classic albums, but there were a couple that I don’t think measured up to the others and in total weren’t great records.”

He allows, “Yes, they had some classic tracks on them, but they also had a lot of filler.” 

If you want an example, look no further than “Solar Prestige a Gammon,” a song on Caribou that’s entirely made up of nonsense words.

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