Elton John / Honky Chateau

A piano cat named Hercules was long overdue to insist to producer Gus Dudgeon that his superior live ensemble be permitted to wax sides with their bandleader in lieu of session cats. A truly definitive classic pop rock collection, the first full slab with Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson, and Davey Johnstone also stands as a dazzling showcase for the late great bassist, whose upper register motifs on "Rocket Man," tuba-like "Honky Cat" phrases, and deep pocket grooves on "Mellow,"  "Salvation," "Susie" and "Slave" further embellished Reggie's melodies and Bernie's libretto - and made great songs into even greater recordings.