As digital technology began to prevail in the recording industry in the early '80s, Elton John's original record producer, Gus Dudgeon, was among the first to actively embrace the seemingly infinite possibilities in the medium. Although the promise of perfect sound may have been a bit of an exaggeration, the notable improvements to the subtleties as well as the expanded frequency response of recordings remastered in the digital domain were most certainly not. Dudgeon's original idea for this 11-track compilation was to not only present some of John's best-known works in this new realm, but also a few of the deeper album cuts that would most aptly demonstrate the awesome dimensions inherent in digital audio reproduction. In terms of sheer content, Superior Sound Of (1970-1975) bears a striking resemblance to John's first Greatest Hits volume. Both contain the same number of tracks and cover practically the same era. However, one major difference between the two is likewise among the strongest arguments for the collection -- the inclusion of "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "We All Fall in Love Sometimes/Curtains" from Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboys. Regardless of the listener's familiarity with any one or all of the tracks included here, there are many surprises. Some of which are bold -- most notably the opening Farfisa organ introduction to "Crocodile Rock," the backing vocals on "Daniel," and Ray Cooper's syncopated percussion on "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," all of which had previously been buried deep in the mix. Other less-jarring, yet equally brilliant observations include the lush Beach Boys-driven backup vocals on "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and drummer Nigel Olsson's delicate cymbal brushwork right before the coda on "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." While ever so slight, they undeniably alter the song's entire visage. Inevitably, some audiophile purists will label these remixes as blasphemous revisionist history. However, in doing so they also deny themselves the joy in rediscovering these classic pop/rock staples in an entirely fresh and wholly entertaining way. Sadly, legal wrangling has kept Superior Sound Of (1970-1975) out of print since the late '80s, although pirated copies do turn up from time to time.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer