Christmas In London 1974 [MasterPort 1DVD NTSC Torrent: 55517]
Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London, Dec 24, 1974

By late 1974, Elton John was as big as he was ever going to be. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road had already seen him peak as a writer, but he wasn’t quite ready to commence the downward slide that eventually engulfed the remainder of his 1970s and, as a live performer, he was still at the top of his game. Who better, then, to ring in that year’s Christmas season with a one hour televised concert, courtesy of the British Old Grey Whistle Test?

The cameras caught the entire show, but broadcast just two-thirds of it. Here, the full 82 minute outing is presented in all its vibrant color and cabaret outrage, with Elton simply banging out the hits and the favorites - "Crocodile Rock," "Honky Cat," "Lucy In The Sky," "Benny and the Jets," you name it, it’s probably here.

The disc is divided into two parts; the opening half dozen songs, before the broadcast got under way, include excellent versions of "Rocket Man," "Daniel" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"; Whistle Test viewers joined the show midway through "Grey Seal," and then stayed on board all the way through to the riotous closing Christmas wishes, with Elton joined onstage by Rod Stewart and Gary Glitter, positively the only other figures on the UK scene of the day that could share his limelight and not be dwarfed by his platforms.

A large timing strip across the bottom of the picture does detract from the quality of the print, but one quickly grows accustomed to it. Besides, there’s so much going on elsewhere on stage that why would you even be looking down there? There’s a lot of other Elton live footage out there, vintage and recent, officially sanctioned and otherwise. Of it all, however, this is Elton at his peak, musically, visually and, via those trademark spectacular spectacles, sartorially. - Dave Thompson

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January 19, 2007