Originally posted February 1, 2011. Last updated September 14, 2018.
Elton John Compilations
These are some of the most prominent Elton John collections released over the years.
You can also check out Elton John’s discography page for detailed chart figures on all the songs from these collections and their sales figures, airplay, and peaks on various charts.
Released: Nov. 4, 1974
Sales (in millions): US: 16.0, UK: 0.3, IFPI: --, World: 27.0
Peak: US: 110, UK: 111, Canada: 113, Australia: 15
Greatest Hits Volume II
Released: Oct. 8, 1977
Sales (in millions): US: 5.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 7.0
Peak: US: 21, UK: 6, Canada: 6, Australia: 46
Greatest Hits Volume III
Released: Oct. 3, 1987
Sales (in millions): US: 2.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 2.5
Peak: US: 84, UK: --, Canada: 33, Australia: --
Greatest Hits 1976-1986
Released: Nov. 3, 1992
Sales (in millions): US: 2.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 2.0
Peak: US: --, UK: --, Canada: --, Australia: --
Very Best of
Released: Nov. 3, 1990
Sales (in millions): US: --, UK: 2.7, IFPI: 5.0, World: 18.0
Peak: US: --, UK: 12, Canada: --, Australia: --
Greatest Hits 1970-2003
Released: Nov. 12, 2002
Sales (in millions): US: 2.5, UK: 1.2, IFPI: 2.0, World: 5.7
Peak: US: 12, UK: 3, Canada: --, Australia: 19
Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits
Released: March 26, 2007
Sales (in millions): US: 3.0, UK: 0.3, IFPI: --, World: 3.3
Peak: US: 9, UK: 2, Canada: 10, Australia: 8
The Very Best of Elton John was a double-CD anthology released in the U.K. that essentially consolidated three previous single disc compilations into one collection. Most represented is Greatest Hits. “Rarely has a greatest-hits collection been as effective,” E1 “Greatest Hits is a nearly flawless collection, offering a perfect introduction to Elton John and providing casual fans with almost all the hits they need.” E1
“Released at the end of 1974, after Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Caribou had effectively established him as a superstar, Greatest Hits is exactly what it says it is – it features every one of his Top Ten singles (Your Song, Rocket Man, Honky Cat, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie and the Jets, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me), plus the number 12 Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting and radio and concert favorites ‘Border Song’ and Candle in the Wind.” E1 Only “Border Song” is absent from The Very Best of.
That collection did skip over “a couple of lesser hits from this era, most notably Levon and Tiny Dancer,” E1 but added them to Elton’s next greatest hits collection, although those same two songs are notable omissions from The Very Best of.
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 also “adds…The Bitch Is Back, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, ‘Island Girl’, [and] ‘Grow Some Funk of Your Own,’” E2 leaving the last two off The Very Best of.
The second hits collection also had “two non-LP hit singles (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Philadelphia Freedom) and John’s version of Pinball Wizard, taken from the soundtrack to Tommy. In short, it’s an excellent continuation of the first collection, and taken together, they function as an ideal singles retrospective of the most successful singles artist of the early ‘70s.” E2
“Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 (1979-1987) is a 12-track overview that compiles the bulk of Elton John’s biggest hits from the ‘80s, including such classic tracks as Little Jeannie, I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, Empty Garden, Blue Eyes, I’m Still Standing, and Sad Songs (Say So Much). It also includes…‘Heartache All Over the World’…[and] ‘Too Low for Zero’, which never was a single.” E3
“Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 went out of print after John left Geffen for MCA, who issued a replacement package, Greatest Hits 1976-1986, which eliminates those two songs [as does The Very Best of] and adds Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and ‘Who Wears These Shoes?’ to the remaining ten songs.” E3
Again, The Very Best of falls short of covering everything from this collection. In addition to the aforementioned omissions, ‘Mama Can’t Buy Me Love,’ ‘Little Jeannie,’ ‘Empty Garden,’ ‘Who Wears These Shoes?,’ and ‘Wrap Her Up’ are not included. All were top twenty U.S. hits but had minor impact, if any, on the UK charts, for whom this collection was created.
Another alternative to this collection is the 2-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002. Omitted are “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Song for Guy,” “Part-Time Love,” “Blue Eyes,” “Kiss the Bride,” “Passengers,” “Easier to Walk Away,” and “You Gotta Love Someone.”
That collection adds “Levon,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Island Girl,” and “Little Jeannie” from the 1970-1990 era. The next decade plus is represented by songs “The One,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Circle of Life,” “Believe,” “Blessed,” “Something about the Way You Look Tonight,” “I Want Love,” “Written in the Stars,” and “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.”
The collection was released in various reiterations. Songs marked with an * were not included on the 2-disc European version of this album, which substituted those marked with **. Songs marked with *** were included on a third bonus disc, as well as “Levon” and “I Don’t Want to Go on with You Like That,” which were on the original 2-disc American version.
Finally, the Rocket Man collection whittled Elton’s entire career down to one disc. There were many alternate versions of this collection released throughout the world. In the U.S., this was actually retitled Rocket Man: Number Ones, a definite misnomer since these were not all #1’s.