Elton John vs. David Bowie

Do talk back

Who is better? (up to 1976)

Poll ended at 03 Apr 2021, 03:57

Elton John
5
33%
David Bowie
10
67%
 
Total votes: 15

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 02:57

This week I have been streaming the first Brit Icon Awards show from 2013, which honors Sir Elton John, a true icon of our times. It's only 67 minutes long, but I have been watching it in bits and pieces, as I keep falling asleep - something I do all the time when the TV is on. That is not to denigrate the show, which has been excellent - both entertaining and informative. Elton John bares his soul, you get to know the real Elton behind the diva public persona. And I got to thinking, that Elton John - Bernie Taupin songwriting partnership, they really were unmatched during their purple patch, 1969 - 1976. There seems to be a general consensus that David Bowie is the most important rock/pop solo artist of the 1970s, but just going up to 1976 - I think Elton and Bernie can match him. I know which artist's songs triggers an emotional response the most with me, and it ain't Bowie's. The Thin White Duke gave us "Heroes", but take a song like "Tiny Dancer", or Elton's signature, "Your Song", I mean, come on.

Image
Last edited by GoogaMooga on 27 Mar 2021, 12:18, edited 1 time in total.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

Six String
Posts: 21653
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:22

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Six String » 27 Mar 2021, 04:07

You’re embarrassing yourself now.
This is not the year to think about what we don’t have.
It is the year we should be grateful for what we do have.

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 06:15

Don't get me wrong, David Bowie is the better artist overall, but just examine the best songs of each up to 1976.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 06:26

Singles discography up to 1976:

DAVID BOWIE

"The Prettiest Star"
"Memory of a Free Festival Part 1"
"Holy Holy"
"Changes"
"Starman"
"John, I'm Only Dancing"
"The Jean Genie"
"Drive-In Saturday"
"Time"
"Life on Mars?"
"Let's Spend the Night Together"
"Sorrow"
"Rebel Rebel"
"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"
"Diamond Dogs"
"1984"
"Knock on Wood" (Live)
"Rock 'n' Roll with Me" (Live)
"Young Americans"
"Fame"
"Golden Years"
"TVC 15"
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 06:37

Singles discography up to 1976:

Elton John

"Border Song"
"Rock'n'Roll Madonna"
"From Denver to L.A."
"Your Song"
"Friends"
"Levon"
"Tiny Dancer"
"Rocket Man"
"Honky Cat"
"Crocodile Rock"
"Daniel"
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
"Step into Christmas"
"Candle in the Wind"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
"The Bitch is Back"
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
"Philadelphia Freedom"
"Someone Saved My Life Tonight"
"Island Girl"
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 06:39

David Bowie - I count 11 great singles
Elton John - I count 12 great singles

Okay, close race.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
Lord Rother
Posts: 7768
Joined: 11 Feb 2009, 11:54
Location: breaking the legs of the bastard that got me framed

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Lord Rother » 27 Mar 2021, 07:50

Seriously....

70s Elton stomps all over Bowie (but it shows on the albums more than singles).

User avatar
Tactful Cactus
Posts: 18243
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 14:21
Location: by your window

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Tactful Cactus » 27 Mar 2021, 11:01

It was Elton night on BBC4 last night, I watched about 30mins of Elton at the Beeb -- you could chart his decline from early to late 70's but as a writer of pop songs that resonated with tens of millions of people Elton could do it again and again.

Bowie was more distant and abstract, a singular voice, not a collective one. I think Bowie as an artist and visionary will endure. Elton John songs will stand the test of time but he never had that singular vision that Bowie achieved over and over again. They don't compare.

By the way, was Elton trying for a Life on Mars type "Bowie" song with Rocketman? I could almost imagine Bowie performing Rocketman as his own around 1971 (maybe as a lesser b-side :? )

P.S. Did they get on well together? Elton seems to have palled-up with everyone but I don't remember too many photos of them.

User avatar
Tom Waits For No One
Posts: 4684
Joined: 14 Nov 2014, 08:05

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Tom Waits For No One » 27 Mar 2021, 11:03

Tactful Cactus wrote:
P.S. Did they get on well together? Elton seems to have palled-up with everyone but I don't remember too many photos of them.



Best of chums

Image
Give a shit or be a shit.

User avatar
Tactful Cactus
Posts: 18243
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 14:21
Location: by your window

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Tactful Cactus » 27 Mar 2021, 11:11

Ha! That Bowie guy is a fairly good resemblance, he needs to lose a few pounds to hollow out his cheeks.

The Elton guy could be anyone though, he needs the square-tooth grin to nail it.

User avatar
jimboo
Posts: 7007
Joined: 29 Dec 2005, 17:43
Location: taking a foxy kind of stand

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby jimboo » 27 Mar 2021, 11:22

Lord Rother wrote:Seriously....

70s Elton stomps all over Bowie (but it shows on the albums more than singles).


Seriously ?
If I jerk- the handle jerk- the handle you'll thrill me and thrill me

User avatar
robertff
Posts: 6763
Joined: 20 Jul 2003, 06:59

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby robertff » 27 Mar 2021, 11:23

Commercially, there's not contest, Elton wins hands down. Bowie, on the other hand was more influential culturally, musically, stylistically and he was just cool, you could never say that about Elton.

I have never been much of an Elton fan, for me he's never produced an album anywhere near as good as Hunky Dory or as thrilling as Spiders. Having said that I rather lost interest in Bowie following Station to Station, Low and Heroes disappointed me at the time although I like them well enough now. It was his purple patch from HD through to DD that I really liked and still do.


.

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 27671
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby GoogaMooga » 27 Mar 2021, 12:17

Elton John and David Bowie were pals when they were both starting out, but their friendship soured by the mid-70s, as far as I have read. If you google both their names together, there's more to read on the internet about their feud or rivalry.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
trans-chigley express
Posts: 18651
Joined: 11 Nov 2003, 01:50
Location: Asia's WC

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby trans-chigley express » 27 Mar 2021, 14:31

Tactful Cactus wrote:
By the way, was Elton trying for a Life on Mars type "Bowie" song with Rocketman? I could almost imagine Bowie performing Rocketman as his own around 1971 (maybe as a lesser b-side :? )

I think you do Rocketman a great disservice. There aren't many songs as good as Life On Mars but Rocket Man runs it pretty close. I do see the similarity in style but I see Life On Mars more of a stab at an EJ style song rather than EJ trying to do a Life In Mars with Rocket Man.

User avatar
Tactful Cactus
Posts: 18243
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 14:21
Location: by your window

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Tactful Cactus » 27 Mar 2021, 15:26

trans-chigley express wrote:
Tactful Cactus wrote:
By the way, was Elton trying for a Life on Mars type "Bowie" song with Rocketman? I could almost imagine Bowie performing Rocketman as his own around 1971 (maybe as a lesser b-side :? )

I think you do Rocketman a great disservice. There aren't many songs as good as Life On Mars but Rocket Man runs it pretty close. I do see the similarity in style but I see Life On Mars more of a stab at an EJ style song rather than EJ trying to do a Life In Mars with Rocket Man.


Maybe I'm being harsh. I did say it could have been a Bowie song from '71, thats a primo songwriting year for DB. But it would have been a lesser Bowie that would write a song like Rocketman, something he had done himself with songs like "Song For Robert Zimmerman" where its accomplished but familiar, slightly bland, catchy but unexceptional.

*edit* I've consulted Wikipedia and indeed EJ cites "Space Oddity", written two years prior, as an influence on Rocketman.

User avatar
The Slider
Self-Aggrandising Cock
Posts: 47459
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 19:05
Location: I'm only here for the sneer
Contact:

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby The Slider » 27 Mar 2021, 15:39

I rather enjoy Elton - pretty much all the way through his career, though primarily up until the mid 70s.
But artistically he is not even playing the same game as Bowie

Ultimately Elton's music *means* very little to me. Bowie's *is* me.
The Complete Jah Bob Mp3 set now available in the usual place, should you want one.
Image

User avatar
Rorschach
Posts: 3029
Joined: 02 Jun 2008, 12:43

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Rorschach » 27 Mar 2021, 17:24

The Slider wrote:I rather enjoy Elton ... But artistically he is not even playing the same game as Bowie


This.
Bugger off.

User avatar
slightbreeze
Can I Get To Widnes?
Posts: 10466
Joined: 03 Sep 2003, 20:07
Location: facing the computer
Contact:

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby slightbreeze » 27 Mar 2021, 17:51

Can't stand Elton's mannered vocals, making all his vocal performances sound the same (as with Brian May's guitar solos).Enough good songs, though, to make a strong "Best of". Seriously, though, better than Bowie? Elton was a song writer and performer, Bowie an innovator and artistic genius. Bit like comparing Kevin Keegan to George Best

User avatar
The Prof
Trading coffee in Abyssinia
Posts: 46080
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 18:32
Location: A Metropolis of Discontent

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby The Prof » 27 Mar 2021, 18:48

slightbreeze wrote:Can't stand Elton's mannered vocals,


Can't stand Elton John full stop. Couple of half decent songs but other than that - no thanks.

User avatar
Tactful Cactus
Posts: 18243
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 14:21
Location: by your window

Re: Elton John vs. David Bowie

Postby Tactful Cactus » 27 Mar 2021, 19:00

His vocals were mannered then, I don't know what you'd call them now. Vic Reeves springs to mind. Did you see him doing I'm Still Standing on the benefit show? It was surreal. If you've sung the same words thousands of times over it probably takes on another dimension, like its beyond language.