Why I won’t be buying the Elton John-Diamonds box set

I’ve seen many people complain that it didn’t seem like a whole lot was done about the 50 year anniversary of Elton and Bernie working together. In this general time period (last 12 months or so), there have been various remasters available in box sets and separately. There was a Burberry box set, and the discs in it were later reissued separately. There was the “Elton John Vinyl Club” box set, and these are/will be available individually, also. For a few of these, it was the first time they were ever officially issued on vinyl. For Record Store Day, a special extended edition of 17-11-70 came out. That’s all well and good, but these weren’t even promoted as having anything to do with their 50 year anniversary. There’s also the fact that not everyone even owns a record player anymore, or even cares about vinyl.

The Diamonds box set comes in three different versions: 2CD, 2LP, and 3CD box set. The first two of those seem to be just another greatest hits collection, though this is described on the official site as the ULTIMATE greatest hits collection. That’s probably nice if you are missing huge chunks of his discography, and/or don’t own previous GH sets.

It’s also curious that it talks about this as related to he and Bernie working together, despite the fact that quite a few tracks on this collection are either covers or were not co-written by Bernie.

The 3 CD set has more tracks (17 more, to be exact), of course, plus a 72 page hardcover book with reproductions of picture sleeve graphics and annotations for the tracks. It also includes 5 postcard illustrations of Elton.

Compared with some other sets, the price tags on these isn’t even bad. I strongly considered getting the 3CD set, but ultimately decided against it. Why? First of all, the first 2 discs are very, very similar to the GH 1970-2002 set, which I have. I also have the original greatest hits LPs, volumes 1, 2, and 3. This is also why I never bothered getting the Rocket Man GH collection. There is simply nothing there I need/don’t have.

Diamonds is noteworthy for having some later stuff that the 1970-2002 collection obviously did not have. It also replaces the regular “Don’t let the sun go down on me” with the version with George Michael. It adds “Little Jeannie,” “Blue Eyes,” and, strangely, the title track from “Victim of Love,” among other things.

And yet, there is just not enough new material (just the book and some postcards) to get me interested. I have all the albums, usually on multiple formats, plus singles like “Live Like Horses” with Pavarotti. Above all, I think, there is the fact that I tend to listen to entire albums rather than collections, and the fact that I usually like the other album tracks as much or more than the hit singles. (I can’t stand “Little Jeannie.”)

I find it all more than a little disappointing when you consider all the more interesting things that must exist in the vaults. I’ve been griping for a while about the fact that only 4 ’70s albums got a 2-CD deluxe edition, when certainly that could’ve happened with many more (including albums from other decades). More live recordings, more of the B-sides that were never even released digitally, demos, and so on. But no, we just get yet another rehashed greatest hits collection.

However, if it does interest you, you can buy it here. As I said, the price doesn’t seem too bad, even for the box set, when you consider the retail prices of previous box sets and deluxe editions. I’m not actually trying to discourage anyone. In fact, I was on the official site earlier, thinking of buying the 3 CD set. These are just the reasons I eventually decided not to.

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