Out today (November 13th) is Elton John 's massive eight-disc box set packed with rarities and unreleased tracks. Elton: Jewel Box includes a whopping 148 songs spanning Elton's entire career — with three discs dedicated to rarities from 1965 to 1971. The collection is available on eight-CD's, four-LP's, three-LP's, and two-LP's.
Jewel Box is broken up into four sections: “Deep Cuts,” “Rarities,” “B-Sides 1976-2005,” and “This Is Me. . ,”. which features songs that were specifically name-checked into Elton's recent memoir, Me, and serving as a soundtrack to the book.
Jewel Box comes in a hardcover book “with the discs housed in the back, all wrapped in an outer slipcase. Each section comes accompanied with extensive notes including a track-by-track commentary by Elton for 'Deep Cuts.'”
Elton issued a statement about the new Jewel Box collection:
To delve back through every period of my career in such detail for Jewel Box has been an absolute pleasure. Hearing these long lost tracks again, I find it hard to comprehend just how prolific Bernie (Taupin) and I were during the early days. The songs just poured out of us and the band were just unbelievable in the studio.
I always want to push forward with everything I do and look to the future, but having time during lockdown to take stock and pull these moments from my memory from each era has been a joy.
As a devout record collector myself, this project has really excited me and I couldn’t be happier with the level of craft involved in such a carefully curated, lovingly constructed box set. I’m sure my fans will enjoy it as much as I have.
Elton's longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin told us that although his and Elton's songs have become pop standards over the years, that shouldn't take away from the quality of the work: “First and foremost, we are good songwriters. And there's nothing wrong with writing a great song — providing it retains elements of passion, and whatever. As long as its not just a surface thing. And I think these songs are very commercial and there's nothing wrong with being commercial, yet they are at the same time very passionate.”
Elton John spoke about how his and Bernie Taupin's early works — many of which are featured on Jewel Box — led directly to the success of his breakout hit, “Your Song”: “I really started off as a songwriter with Bernie and because people didn't record our songs, fate had a hand in me recording them myself and making an album, called Empty Sky and then making the Elton John album, which had 'Your Song' on it. No, never in a million years (laughs) did I think my career would last this long. I'm very grateful it has, because I've enjoyed the ride — it's been tremendous.”
Guitarist Davey Johnstone, who joined Elton John's band in 1971 and currently serves as his musical director, has been lucky enough to witness the Elton John – Bernie Taupin songwriting partnership up close for nearly 50 years and has literally seen some of rock's most beloved songs being written in front of him: “Elton’d have a stack of lyrics and he’d just look through them. He wouldn’t do any pre-work (on the songs) in those days, y’know, he wouldn’t ever sneak ‘em at home with them, he’d wait till he get to the studio, and then literally sit down after breakfast and write a song. I mean, I’ve seen him write songs in the time that it’s taken me to make a chicken sandwich, or something.”