Elton John

Below is a review of some of Elton John’s album covers.  I am using the little known Powley-Prowse Face Pain Scale Reviewing System.  This system was invented in 2008 the week I broke my collar bone and went to an Ornette Coleman concert.  When I was in the ambulance the paramedic showed me a face pain scale chart and asked me to pick which face best represented my pain scale.  I’m pretty sure that this is a flawed system in a country famous for understatement.  Anyway, I obviously picked too low on the scale because instead of rushing me to hospital they decided to go and pick someone else up as well.

Later in the week I went to see Ornette Coleman in concert.  I thought it was a great concert, but my friend Richard who is a very talented musician didn’t.  In fact I think parts of the concert brought him a lot of physical pain.  It was then I devised the Powley-Prowse Face Pain Scale.  It may seem complicated at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Album One: Honky Chateau

Honky Chateau

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He looks pretty cool here.  Almost uniquely in the Elton John album cover oeuvre he actually looks like the kind of guy I could imagine would write good songs.

Album Two: Jump Up!


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I think the photographer should have told Elton he had the wrong hat on.  Otherwise he sort of looks cool.  How come designers thought those neon triangles, lines and squiggles looked neat in the 80s?

Album Three: Victim of Love


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Victim of Love?  Did his lover make him dress like this at gun point, or was Victim of Fashion too obvious as a title?  My main complaint is that I don’t even like the idea of Elton John being dressed up to look sexy and distant.  What if I were accidentally attracted to him?

Album Four: The One


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Please.  Stop.  One last time: you are NOT  the Queen Mother.

Album Five: Rock of the Westies


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What was the look they were going for here?  That loveable rogue Sherlock Holmes?  Hand model for a jewellery catalogue?  Before and after shot for a shaving commercial?  Very hard to say.  His smile makes me feel slightly uneasy – like he is watching me brush my teeth but he knows something terrible about the toothbrush.

Album Six: Caribou


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This is actually quite a cool album cover, but unfortunately Elton John has walked right into the middle of it and spoilt everything.  I am not going to say anything about the outfit.  The outfit is saying quite enough by itself.  How would I describe my feeling about this?  It might be the same as my feeling if I opened my front door and I saw that my friend had decided to dress like this on the day I was going to introduce him or her to my grandmother; a kind of dismayed disgust.

Looking through all of these album covers I feel that the essential problem has always been that Elton John doesn’t look very cool, and that people who design album covers are obsessed with selling something that is supposed to be cool.  As a result the designers probably either: (a) resent Elton’s lack of coolness and deliberately try to make him look like a tit as a form of revenge, or (b) ignore his lack of coolness, and try and make him look like he’s selling something else such as a photo album for the Queen Mum, or a new book about Miami Vice.

My god I love these covers!

This post is part of a series about the number one songs of 1973 in New Zealand.  The series can be found here.

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

5 thoughts on “Elton John”

  1. Cool. These lyrics are better than I thought after hearing your stirring rendition on report night last week. (I think AR thinks you’re even weirder than he first suspected). I found The Knobz by the way. In 1980 they had a song called I Like It which got to number 42 in June, and then Culture which went to number 5 in October. In 1981 they released Liverpool to America which went to that magic number 42 again (with a bullet, again). Stranded in Paradise: “Culture – a turgid piece of modern day bubblegum inspired by the Muldoon record sales debate, and 1981’s Liverpool to America, an awful ‘tribute’ to America.” Nice.

  2. Bill walked me to my door last night
    And he said, ‘Before I go
    There’s something about our love affair
    That I have a right to know
    I said, “Let’s not stand out here like this
    What would the neighbors think
    Why don’t we just…step inside
    And I’ll fix us both a drink”

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl, Bill

    William’s hands were shaking
    As he took his glass of wine
    And I could see we both felt the same
    When his eyes met mine
    I said, “‘Who we love and why we love
    It’s hard to understand
    So let’s just sit here on the couch
    And face this, man to man”

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl Bill

    Bill, you know we just left her place
    And we both know what she said
    She doesn’t want to see your face
    And she wishes you were dead
    Now, I know we both love her
    And I guess we always will
    But you’re gonna have to find another
    ‘Cause she’s my girl…Bill

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    Talkin’ ’bout my little girl
    My girl, Bill

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl, Bill

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