Elton John's Greatest Hits Vol. 3

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Elton John's Greatest Hits
Volume III 1979-1987
Elton John - Elton John's Greatest Hits Vol. 3 album cover.jpg
Greatest hits album by Elton John
Released 12 November 1987
Recorded 1977–1986
Genre Pop, rock
Length 56:50
Label Geffen
Producer Chris Thomas, Thom Bell, Elton John, Clive Franks, Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
(1987)Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra1987
Elton John's Greatest Hits Vol. 3
Reg Strikes Back
(1988)Reg Strikes Back1988

Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume III is the twenty-seventh album release for Elton John. Released in 1987, 10 years after Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume II, the compilation album features his greatest hits from 19791986 and was made available only in the United States and Canada. All of the songs featured had previously been released on a previous album.


The album was initially released under Geffen records after John returned to his US-label. Geffen was later bought out by MCA Records in 1990. John had just left MCA after the label released Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which had created a sales competition with his live album, Here and There.

One-third of the album is composed of songs from Too Low for Zero, John’s 1983 album that received the most critical and commercial acclaim for the early 1980’s, including the songs I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues and I'm Still Standing. Some of the artist’s less successful songs were also included on the tracking because they had been released in the past year. The album reached gold status by February in 1989, platinum in November of 1991, and achieved 2x platinum in October of 1995 by the RIAA.

In 1992, two years after MCA purchased Geffen, Greatest Hits Volume III was removed from the artist’s repertoire and replaced with the famed Greatest Hits 1976-1986 album, and due to copyright issues, two tracks from Greatest Hits Volume II, Don't Go Breaking My Heart and Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word were moved to Greatest Hits 1976-1986 and replaced with Tiny Dancer and I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford).

Featured Songs[edit]

"I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" Originally featured on Too Low for Zero, Bernie Taupin wrote the song for his wife, Toni Russo. The album itself was a turning point in Elton John’s relationship with Taupin, as the singer/songwriter duo had taken a break from 1977 to 1979, a time in which Taupin worked with other artists. Too Low for Zero was when the two reunited and created the album together.

"Mama Can't Buy You Love" Originally featured on the EP, The Thom Bell Sessions in 1979, it was one of three of John’s Number One R&B records. The artist had considered the producer for the album, Thom Bell, to be an idol of his and looks back fondly on that era of his career. The song was written by LeRoy Bell and Casey James of Bell and James.

"Little Jeannie" Included originally on 21 at 33, it was written by Gary Osborne. This album was composed half and half of songs from Osborne and Taupin, marking the beginning of John and Taupin’s break. 21 at 33 contained roughly half and half songs from the two lyricists. For this particular song, the melody was written before the lyrics.

"Sad Songs (Say So Much)" From Breaking Hearts, was written by Bernie Taupin and even with its upbeat rhythm is about losing someone and was meant to help those grieving by listening to classic sad songs.

"I'm Still Standing" Also written by Bernie Taupin off of Too Low for Zero, the song is aimed at a former lover. Contrary to popular belief of it being a statement of John’s resilience in the face of adversity for his flamboyant and non-traditional flair, Taupin actually wrote the song with a specific ex-lover in mind.

"Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" Off of the Jump Up! album, the song was written as a tribute to the late John Lennon. The lyrics were first written by Taupin and John later composed the music. John has been quoted saying that he felt a particular connection to the song, being that he had been good friends with Lennon and is even the Godfather of Lennon’s younger son, Sean.

"Heartache All Over the World" The first song completed for Leather Jackets, it was written by Bernie Taupin. John sings about the appeals of “the opposite sex”. John later reported feeling dishonest about the track as he came out as openly gay in 1988, two years after the song was released.

"Too Low for Zero" First appearing on the album of the same name, the lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin and music composed by Elton John. The song has a catchy energy despite its darker lyrics.

"Kiss the Bride" Released initially as a single and then on the album Too Low For Zero, it features lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by Elton John. The song is upbeat and is reported to be a popular song choice to play at weddings.

"Blue Eyes" From John’s Jump Up! album, the lyrics to the song were written by Gary Osborne to which John wrote the music for. The song was nominated for a Grammy in 1983 for Best Male Vocal Pop Performance.

"Nikita" Originally appearing on Ice on Fire, John sings of being in love with an East German Border guard during the Cold War, but their love is forbidden because John is unable to enter the country. Taupin wrote the lyrics and it features George Michael and Nik Kershaw on backup vocals.

"Wrap Her Up" Also from Ice and Fire, the song again features George Michael and was originally released as a single and is famous for its name dropping of multiple famous women. John and Taupin collaborated with Charlie Morgan, Paul Westwood, and Fred Mandal. It is by far the longest song featured on the album at 6:04.

In 1992, this album was deleted and replaced with Greatest Hits 1976–1986. MCA had taken over Geffen Records, and control of copyrights had shifted such that 1977's Greatest Hits Volume II could no longer be presented as before. Two songs from it, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", were shifted to the new third volume, which also now included 1984's "Who Wears These Shoes?". To make room for these additions, the 1986 non-hit "Heartache All Over the World" and 1983's album-only track "Too Low for Zero" were eliminated.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Album Length
1. "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" Elton John/Bernie Taupin/Davey Johnstone Too Low for Zero (1983) 4:42
2. "Mama Can't Buy You Love" LeRoy Bell/Casey James The Thom Bell Sessions (1979) 4:02
3. "Little Jeannie" John/Gary Osborne 21 at 33 (1980) 4:46
4. "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" John/Taupin Breaking Hearts (1984) 4:07
5. "I'm Still Standing" John/Taupin Too Low for Zero 3:03
6. "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" John/Taupin Jump Up! (1982) 5:05
7. "Heartache All Over the World" John/Taupin Leather Jackets (1986) 4:01
8. "Too Low for Zero" John/Taupin Too Low for Zero 5:44
9. "Kiss the Bride" John/Taupin Too Low for Zero 4:20
10. "Blue Eyes" John/Osborne Jump Up! 3:27
11. "Nikita" John/Taupin Ice on Fire (1985) 4:54
12. "Wrap Her Up" John/Taupin/Charlie Morgan/Paul Westwood/Johnstone/Fred Mandal Ice on Fire 6:04


  • Album coordinators – John David Kalodner & Robin Rothman
  • Originally mastering – Greg Fulginiti
  • Art direction/Design – Laura Lipuma
  • Management – John Reid