From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Elton John, ‘Caribou’

This isn’t my favorite Elton John album, but it has a couple of things going for it.

It’s the home of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” which is more than enough reason to own a copy.  And then there’s that album cover–that horrible, horrible album cover. When I was a grade schooler, this was one of two sleeves that I sort of obsessed over. Any visit to a record or department store included a trip to the bins to stare at a copy of Caribou. Even at age 7-8 I was aware how bad that cover was. It is a celebration of awful taste, from the cheesy portrait studio backdrop to Elton’s faux tiger jacket and no shirt ensemble.

But the real reason that I own this particular copy is that I couldn’t pass up that Gemco price sticker. It’s not a particularly attractive sticker, but what a cool memento of a long gone department store. Sometimes record collecting is about the story as much as the album, and I love the idea that 40 years ago my doppelganger convinced his or her mom to pick this up while they were out grocery shopping. Lucky kid–all I could do was stare at it.

You can pick up a copy of Caribou for 3-5 bucks, but it’s not uncommon to find it in the dollar bin, either. Happy hunting.

Oh, and the other album cover that 8 year-old me couldn’t stop staring at? Grand Funk Railroad’s Born To Die. Creepy!

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