Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Elton John - The Captain & The Kid (2006)


Released September 2006

Recorded in Atlanta

Elton John and Bernie Taupin reprised their classic 1975 "Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy" with this uplifting, inspired 2006 release. The first album was autobiographical and so, is this one, updated. Elton has no shame about singing about the last or indeed sounding like the past, and after several (comparatively) dull albums in the eighties and nineties, it is just refreshing to hear Elton sounding like this again, piano keys pounding, bluesy rock, punchy voice, sad voice on the ballads. The last album I intend to from Elton was 1983's "Too Low For Zero". This album blows that away, effortlessly.


1. Postcards From Richard Nixon
2. Just Like Noah's Ark
3. Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way
4. Tinderbox
5. And The House Fell Down
6. Blues Never Fade Away
7. The Bridge
8. I Must Have Lost It On The Wind
9. Old 67
10. The Captain And The Kid

From the first piano notes of "Postcard From Richard Nixon", the album is a delight from start to finish. The song has a great line about "Brian Wilson's promised land..", another line about Steve McQueen, and Elton's voice sounds just great, once again, after a solid performance on 2004's "Peachtree Road". A great track. The band are on top form too, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson from the old Elton John Band are involved again, as they should be. "Just Like Noah's Ark" is a big, bubbly, bouncy rocker that sounds as if it is straight off "Caribou". "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way" is just a lovely rock ballad, a love song to New York City with some great lyrics and a killer bass line. Hearing Elton on such great form again is just so good, and the same applies to Bernie's lyrics too. Both of them were rejuvenated in the early 2000s. The songs often see them comparing one to the other - "silk suits and Wrangler shirts/the piano and the saddle" - the showy dandy and the wanna-be cowboy (who became one). It is all very endearing. You cannot help but be moved by these two old friends baring their souls, once again, maybe for the last time in this blatant way.

"Tinderbox" is another solid, melodious mid-paced piano-driven slow rock song. It has a full, warm and powerful bass sound that I just love and some seventies-style backing vocals. Yes, all these songs are retrospective in sound, no dance rhythms or club vibes here, thank goodness. It is a retro album, and the sound is blissfully retro. I love it. The lively, boogie piano of "And The House Fell Down" is very "Honky Chateau"-ish in its bluesy, upbeat sound. Good to hear Elton rocking out on the piano again, after being awash with synthesisers in the eighties and nineties. "Blues Never Fade Away" - the title speaks for itself - it is a sad song lamenting lost old friends, some from AIDS. It is beautifully and sensitively delivered - I cannot speak highly enough of Elton's vocals on this album. Nice and deep and throaty, none of that somewhat high voice the slightly blighted some of his eighties work. "The Bridge" is just beautiful, the piano bit and heavenly choir-sounding backing vocals in the middle are enchanting. "I Must Have Lost It On The Wind" is a country-ish and sad song about lovers long gone and forgotten. On songs like this and the previous two, Elton seems to be ruminating, via Bernie's lyrics, as to how the hell he survived the years of excess when others were not so fortunate. "How did we get so lucky - targets on the rifle range..." he questions on "Blues Never Fade Away". Very poignant.

"Old 67" is straight out of "Tumbleweed Connection" in its vibe, with a great line "nearly froze to death on Oxford Street, now we're sitting in the South of France.." and the closer, "The Captain & The Kid" is a totally engaging song, referencing tumbleweed, rocket man, the brown dirt cowboy and the yellow brick road. It is just so moving, yet is a lively, upbeat song. Thank you Elton and Bernie. I can't help but love the music you have given us over so many years. My life has been enriched by it.


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