Friday, 20 December 2019

Elton John - The Nineties And Beyond (1990-2016)



Elton John's final phase of his long career has seen him elevated to the position of "national treasure". It has coincided in an upturn in the quality of his output too.

The albums covered here are:-

The One (1992)
Made In England (1995)
The Big Picture (1997)
Songs From The West Coast (2001)
Peachtree Road (2004)
The Captain & The Kid (2006)
The Union (with Leon Russell) (2010)
The Diving Board (2013)
and Wonderful Crazy Night (2016)

Scroll down to read the reviews chronologically.

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THE ONE (1992)

1. Simple Life
2. The One
3. Sweat It Out
4. Runaway Train
5. Whitewash County
6. The North
7. When A Woman Doesn't Want You
8. Emily
9. On Dark Street
10. Understanding Women
11. The Last Song                       

This is one of those Elton John albums which is regularly trotted out and quoted as being one of his low points. I would have to disagree slightly with that. It has hidden depths. Apparently, Elton said that it was the first one in a long time not to have been recorded under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To a certain extent you can tell There is clarity and purpose to many of the tracks and a strength of vocal delivery. It came three years after 1989's massively successful "Sleeping With The Past" and has suffered as a consequence, which has always been slightly unfortunate. There are not the hit singles on the album, and not as many instantly memorable tracks, so therein lies its problem. That said, it should certainly not be considered a bad album, there are some good songs on here.

  


The opener, Simple Life is a slow burning beauty, full of addictive Springsteen-esque harmonica, catchy chorus refrains and a sumptuous, moving vocal from Elton. The One is melodic, haughty and dramatic. Sweat It Out is a beguiling, slightly funky slow tempo number with a soulful, gruff Elton vocal. Tracks like this are great album tracks but they don't attract the "greatest hits" crowd, hence the album's comparative unpopularity. Runaway Train features Eric Clapton on searing guitar solo in the middle and is upbeat, strident and certainly one to remember, as far as I'm concerned. Great track. The same applies to Whitewash County, a country-ish, rhythmic rocker that has real echoes of Elton's mid-seventies material. I love this one too.


The North is a stately, majestic ballad with real atmosphere and another of those instantly recognisable Elton vocals that are just so moving. This is a lovely song with a beautiful piano solo too. The slow, reflective material continues with When A Woman Doesn't Want YouEmily is melodic and catchy enough, but doesn't stick in the memory as much as some of the others. On Dark Street is a soulful, orchestrated number but you do feel that the best material on this album was to be found in its beginning to middle. The drum-machine-dominated slowie Understanding Women and the mournful but totally beautiful The Last Song, while perfectly pleasant, would seem to probably back up that assessment.

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MADE IN ENGLAND (1995)

1. Believe
2. Made In England
3. House
4. Cold
5. Pain
6. Belfast
7. Latitude
8. Please
9. Man
10. Lies
11. Blessed      

Apart from the title track, all the songs have single word titles - maybe Bernie Taupin was trying to "get back to basis". Either way, this is a little mentioned, maybe somewhat underrated album. Often this album is grouped in with Leather Jackets and The Big Picture as a poor quality Elton John album. That does it a disservice. It is nowhere near that bad. It should have garnered the clich├ęd 'return to form" headlines, but for some reason, it didn't, which is a shame.

                                
The first track, Believe is very John Lennon-esque in its sound and lyrical content. Made in England is an absolute Elton rock classic - upbeat, riffy and catchy. One of the great forgotten Elton John classics. For me, it is almost up there with Saturday Night's Alright and The Bitch Is Back. House has a beautiful string production (legendary string producer Paul Buckmaster, from the Elton John album, is back for this album). It has a lovely, full bass line too. There are some hidden gems on this album, which merit it more than one listen. Considering some of the over-synthesised dross that John put out in both the eighties and nineties, there is a stark mournfulness to this album that renders it worthy of more respect than some of the others. Plaintive ballads abound, and Cold is another of them. Elton's piano is far more prominent on here than it certainly had been on many others before and after this one.


Pain has a Stonesy introductory riff and is a lively, catchy rocker. It is good to hear Elton properly rocking again, with a proper rock backing. This would not have sounded out of place on Caribou or Rock Of The Westies. Elton is on great vocal form. It is like turning the clock back twenty years. A breath of fresh air. Belfast begins with some classic strings sweeping all around before it turns into a tender piano ballad after nearly two minutes. This certainly would have suited the Elton John album. Latitude has a folky guitar backing, some jaunty brass and a shuffling, appealing rhythm. This is another one that harks back to the early seventies in its feel. Please also has that certain something too, complete with a slight Searchers-style guitar twang in its riff (or maybe it is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers). There really is some undiscovered good material on here. It is a much better listen than the somewhat sterile The Big Picture from 1997.

Man has an Atlantic-style soul beat and an organ straight out of When A Man Loves A Woman in places. It mixes these influences with classic Elton balladry to give us one of the best tracks on the album. It builds up to a big gospelly ending. Great stuff. Lies has a grandiose, Pinball Wizard (Elton's version)-style rolling piano intro and morphs in to another seventies beat mid-paced rocker. Blessed is an atmospheric ballad, with a lovely string melody underpinning it, a great vocal and a sumptuous bass line. Give this album a listen, you will not be disappointed, if you like seventies Elton.

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THE BIG PICTURE (1997)

1. Long Way From Happiness
2. Live Like Horses
3. The End Will Come
4. If The River Can Bend
5. Love's Got A Lot To Answer For
6. Something About the Way You Look Tonight
7. The Big Picture
8. Recover Your Soul
9. January
10. I Can't Steer Clear Of You
11. Recover Your Soul 

This is the last album before Elton John's (and Bernie Taupin's) creative "re-birth" with 2001's Songs From The West Coast, which led to a run of albums considerably higher in general quality and critical credibility than those that had populated the eighties and nineties. So many of the albums were simply just "another Elton John album". Unfortunately, this is one of those. It is perfectly acceptable, considerably orchestrated "adult pop". The problem is, one expects more from John and Taupin that that.
                                                
The opener, Long Way From Happiness is pleasant enough, but drenched in sombre synthesisers. Live Like Heroes has more clarity and sounds a bit like a movie theme type of song, full of "big" string orchestration and sweeping musical passages. Indeed, Taupin has stated that this is his least favourite Elton John album, largely because of the overwhelming backing, but also due to the fact he was not happy with his lyrics. Anyway, this track ends with a huge choral backing that Elton has a problem matching. This was also one of the first albums where Elton developed a sort of lisping, sightly slurred vocal. Some of his live performances at the time were blighted by this. Oddly, in a few years, his diction seemed to become clearer again. The End Will Come is a solemn ballad with more synthesised percussion and less piano, to its detriment. The eighties-style machine-generated backing has thankfully diluted somewhat, but it is still rearing its head. There is one burst of piano in the middle of this track, which is a relief.

  

If The River Can Bend begins with that accursed drum machine again and has a crackling, scratchy backing which is irritating. It is a good song though. A great bit of rollicking piano, however, is buried by more drum machine. Nineties "lush" pop at its worst. Thinking about it, Elton John went from 1978 to 2001 without putting out an album that wasn't blighted by synthesised keyboards and percussion. Love's Got A Lot To Answer For, is pleasant, but again, it has the feel of a movie soundtrack song. It is all a bit middle of the road, to be honest. The great years of the seventies seem a long way off now. Even a comparatively little mentioned seventies album like Blue Moves is a million miles better than this.

Something about The Way You Look Tonight has, as the title would suggest, something about it that lifts it above the rest of the album's material. The Big Picture sounds like another show tune, and while Recover Your Soul has a catchy melody, it sounds very much technically perfect, but lacking in any real soul. January is over-orchestrated, I Can't Steer Clear Of You similar, and, guess what, so is Wicked Dreams. The latter has a poppy, ABBA-like appeal, I guess. There are probably many who love this album, but it doesn't do it for me. The production is too big an obstacle for me to overcome.

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SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST (2001)

1. The Emperor's New Clothes
2. Dark Diamond
3. Look Ma, No Hands
4. American Triangle
5. Original Sin
6. Birds
7. I Want Love
8. The Wasteland
9. The Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes
10. Love Her Like Me
11. Mansfield
12. This Train Don't Stop There Anymore

After two decades of variable material, this was the long-awaited "return to form", to use that horrible, over-used phrase. I guess here it was true. One listen to the opener, The Emperor's New Clothes and one is certainly convinced of that - a moving vocal, an autobiographical, nostalgic lyric (always a strength from Bernie Taupin), no layers of synthesiser, a crystal clear, well-utilised piano and generally a great sound to it altogether. It is a great start to the album, and one of Elton's best tracks for over twenty years. This album signalled the beginning of a run of excellent ones that put the previous twenty years' output to shame. To be honest, you could survive on Elton's pre-1978 and post 2001 material and not miss the in-betweens at all.

  

Dark Diamond is a rhythmic, mid paced rock-ish ballad with hints of the Captain Fantastic album to it and an excellent "proper" drum sound, thank goodness. It also features Stevie Wonder's instantly recognisable harmonica too. You hear stuff like this and think just how the heck did he tolerate some of the material he released in the eighties and nineties. Look Ma, No Hands starts with a Billy Joel-esque piano intro and a has a trademark, strong Elton vocal and those Americana lyrics. American Triangle continues in the same vein, with another excellent vocal from an Elton who seems to have got his clear diction back. Original Sin is another quality ballad. These songs sound so much better without those awful eighties and nineties backings, it has to be said. Maybe some of those earlier albums would have sounded so much better if they had been produced like this.

Birds is a country-ish lively number that harks back to the Tumbleweed Connection days, although I refute the popularly expressed opinion that this album is similar to that one. Nearly thirty years, for a start. It is difficult to explain how, but they are just different. I Want Love is a stark but catchy ballad, with an addictive bass line and is well known by most as it was a hit single. The Wasteland evokes some Elvis Presley in its opening riff, and utilises a classic blues progression in its basic backing and namecheck Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. It is good to hear Elton singing the blues again.


Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes has echos of Danny Bailey from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. There are lot of links to the past on this album, but they are just that, links, not attempts to copy. Love Her Like Me is a lively number, with a Springsteen-esque guitar riff. Mansfield is another of those nostalgic, autobiographical songs looking back at Elton and Bernie's crazy, wild times, of which they have done many, but they are always evocative. Indian Summer from the Madman Across The Water album is quoted in the lyrics.

This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore is a beautiful, typical Elton slow and emotional song to close what has been a most enjoyable album, not only lyrically, musically but also production-wise. There is a clarity of sound that had been lacking for a while and a more basic rock approach. Nice album.

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PEACHTREE ROAD (2004)

1. Weight Of The World
2. Porch Swing In Tupelo
3. Answer In The Sky
4. Turn The Lights Out When You Leave
5. My Elusive Drug
6. They Call Her The Cat
7. Freaks In Love
8. All That I'm Allowed
9. I Stop And Breathe
10. Too Many Tears
11. It's Getting Dark In Here
12. I Can't Keep This From You        

This, like all of Elton John's post 2000 albums, a fine piece of work. He was back writing with Bernie Taupin again, concocting beautiful, catchy, evocative melodies around Bernie's Americana-influenced lyrics. This is what they did best, releasing albums that were a fine balance between solid, moving ballads and potent, bluesy rock. The albums are never built around singles, they are proper albums and, as they always were, are mature, sensitive and often reflective. Bernie Taupin is simply one of the greatest songwriters of our time, no question about it. All these albums have been hailed as a "return to form", but Elton/Bernie's quality never really left, these albums just reiterate it more than others.

           

The first two tracks are absolute corkers - packed full of Deep South atmosphere from the very first sound of falling rain on the wonderful Weight Of The World, while Porch Swing In Tupelo is similarly entrancing. Elton's voice, despite ageing, is very strong on the album. Answer In the Sky is a majestic soulful and uplifting song, with a delicious hook. Many said it was a return to Tumbleweed Connection or Elton John. It wasn't. It didn't have the country feel of the former or the lush orchestration of the latter. It was a 2000s album, excellent and unique in its own right. An Americana album for 2004, yet blatantly nostalgic. It is, though, very much a singer/songwriter album and one that doesn't pander to any contemporary trends. It is, as most of the pair's albums are these days, very much an American album. Indeed, they pretty much always were. This one very much so, though.

The quality continues on the country-ish ballad Turn The Lights Out When You Leave, once again, the refrain is instant. It grabs you by the senses. Elton's voice is as good as it has been for many a year.

Time for one of those big ballads - My Elusive Drug fits the bill, "my eloozive drug" as Elton sings it. It is both mournful, yearning and grandiose.

They Call Her The Cat is one of those horn-driven blues rockers Elton has done so well over the years, in the Philadelphia Freedom vein. Freaks In Love is a dignified, stately ballad. It has to be repeated that the quality really is exceptional on this album. All That I'm Allowed is also excellent, with a wonderful hook to it. Both of them, Elton and Bernie, have really hit the right spot on this album, musically and lyrically. The perfect partnership at the top of its game. These two great middle-aged men have given us so much over the years.

The remaining tracks are all high quality too - the lovely, tender I Stop And Breathe; the nostalgic and terribly sad Too Many Tears; the mournful It's Getting Dark In There with its start like Bob Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door and the soully I Can't Keep This From You. The album became more reflective and low-key as it progressed, as if it were ageing, along with its composers. It really is a mature and fulfilled album - in Elton's top ten albums, for sure.

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THE CAPTAIN AND THE KID (2006)

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             

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.

           

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 CaribouWouldn'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 And 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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THE UNION (2010) with Leon Russell

1. If It Wasn't For Bad
2. Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes
3. Hey Ahab
4. Gone To Shiloh
5. Jimmie Rodgers' Dream
6. There's No Tomorrow
7. Monkey Suit
8. The Best Part Of The Day
9. A Dream Comes True
10. When Love Is Dying
11. I Should Have Sent Roses
12. Hearts Have Turned To Stone
13. Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)
14. In The Hands Of Angels  

Elton John finally got to record with his long-time hero Leon Russell, the man who influenced his sound more than anybody, on this appealing album.
                                    
The opener, If It Wasn't For Bad introduces us to Russell's slightly hangdog, world-weary voice. The song has a great hook, I find it reminiscent of an old Style Council track for some reason. Elton's Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes is a melodic piano-driven ballad with hints of Elton's early albums. Hey Ahab is a big, rousing blues number that Elton performed impressively in concert for a few years after the release of this. His voice sounds great on this and the song is driven by its strong backing vocals too. Gone To Shiloh is an evocative Bernie Taupin song about the US Civil War, the sort of song he has specialised in over the years. Neil Young contributes vocals to the song, effectively. The country-ish but bluesy Jimmie Rodgers' Dream is another instantly catchy one.

  

There's No Tomorrow is a New Orleans gospel-flavoured mournful song, with some killer guitar in the middle, while Monkey Suit is another pounding rollicking number that Elton did so well in concert.

Classic, upbeat Elton blues. The album is actually fourteen songs in length, so it lasts a fair old time. I could go on about each individual track but it is probably not necessary, they do not change much in style. Basically, if you like early Elton John, piano-led bluesy rock with airs of country, and lyrics of the Old West, Taupin-style then this is for you. Russell's style, delivery, piano playing and indeed songs are very much in the fashion of John/Taupin's - so they both feed successfully off each other. The piano on the lively A Dream Come True is superb.

A breath of fresh air pervades all around this album. It is enjoyable from beginning to end. Just check out the lovely The Best Part Of The Day, Elton at his absolute best, with Russell's touching help. Just beautiful.

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THE DIVING BOARD (2013)

1. Oceans Away
2. Oscar Wilde Gets Out
3. A Town Called Jubilee
4. The Ballad Of Blind Tom
5. Dream #1
6. My Quicksand
7. Can't Stay Alone Tonight
8. Voyeur
9. Home Again
10. Take This Dirty Water
11. Dream #2
12. The New Fever Waltz
13. Mexican Vacation (Kids In The Candlelight)
14. Dream #3
15. The Diving Board                                                                                                  

Elton John's first album for seven years, which was by far his longest absence from releasing material, this a more piano-led album than those that had been before. He had released the excellent collaboration with Leon RussellThe Union, however.

Oceans Away is a lovely, melodic, piano-only opener, while Oscar Wilde Gets Out is a darkly rhythmic, moving tale of the unfortunate playwright. This song features strings and a full band backing too, effectively. That production once again harks back to the Elton John album. A Town Called Jubilee has some country-ish blues guitar and some Bernie Taupin Americana lyrics. As with most of the output from 2001 there are significant hints of their recording past in John and Taupin's work on this album - Americana, bluesy tracks, country-ish tracks, rollicking piano, nostalgic lyrics. They are all there, but as with most of Elton's recent backyard-echoing material, they don't recall the hits i.e. Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock and the like. They bring to mind songs like Sixty Years OnFirst Night At HientonWhere To Now St. PeterHave Mercy On The Criminal and Susie (Dramas). If you are familiar with Elton's seventies material, you will know what I mean.

  

The Ballad Of Blind Tom is a appealing blues-based number with an excellent piano backing and some thumping drums. My Quicksand is a stark, mournful lament of a piano ballad. Long and languid, it has a strong vocal and an evocative refrain about "waking up with an accent" after going to Paris once. Elton also lapses into some classical piano at one stage. Can't Stay Alone Tonight gets the mood back up again with a country blues-ish upbeat number. Voyeur is a rich, warm, bassy ballad. Home Again is bleaker, piano and haunting strings only. It has an instantly appealing chorus and is reminiscent of some of the material on The Union.


Take This Dirty Water is one of those piano-led bluesy numbers like Take Me To The Pilot or Honky Cat, enhanced by some gospel-style backing vocals. The melodic, sad The New Fever Waltz has a real feel of an old song but I can't put my finger on what it is. Mexican Vacation is a rousing barroom blues rocker and The Diving Board is a jazzy, late night closer to an atmospheric, beguiling album.

One thing I would say about this album, though, is that, like many of its time, it is probably about two or three tracks too long. For me, it would have more effect if it were a few tracks shorter. Of course, I could always just not play a few of them, but I aways feel that somehow I should play albums through.

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WONDERFUL CRAZY NIGHT (2016)

1. Wonderful Crazy Night
2. In The Name Of You
3. Claw Hammer
4. Blue Wonderful
5. I've Got 2 Wings
6. A Good Heart
7. Looking Up
8. Guilty Pleasure
9. Tambourine
10. The Open Chord             

Elton John, like Van Morrison, still releases an album every year or so. This is now his thirtieth studio album. You now know what you're going to get these days - piano-driven semi-bluesy rock workouts and some evocative, tender ballads. It was ever thus, to be honest. Many people criticise artists like this for treading the same ground over and over. I take issue with this. They do what they are comfortable with, what attracted people to them in the first place, and they do it well. Fair play to them. It as to be said, though, that the cover is truly awful. One of the worst of all his album covers, totally lacking in artistic invention. Just take a photo of Elton grinning against a background of bright paint streaks and, er, that's it. Poor show.
                         
This album starts with an upbeat, Leon Russell-influenced (what's new) piano blues rocker in Wonderful Crazy Night that sounds like something from the mid-seventies and is none the worse for it. In The Name Of You is a chugging mid-paced rocker that Elton does in his sleep, with some good percussion and an impressive fuzzy guitar solo. Claw Hammer is an interesting laid-back and mysteriously rhythmic track with Elton's voice surprisingly clear and convincing, which is not always the case these days. This is the first album since 2006's The Captain & The Kid to feature The Elton John Band, and you can tell, the musical delivery is exactly as you would expect  from Davey JohnstoneNigel Olsson and Ray Cooper - top quality.

 

Blue Wonderful is one of the highlights. Elton's voice does admittedly sound a bit croaky at some points, but that it parts of its appeal. It is a beautiful, thoughtful Bernie Taupin ballad and it is great that both of them are still recording excellent material like this all these years later. I've Got Two Wings is another Leon Russell-style country-ish piece of laid back blues rock with typical Taupin US-themed nostalgic lyrics. A Good Heart has a sort of Parisian torch song feel to it, atmospheric and immaculately delivered. Looking Up is an upbeat, riffy rocker with some standout piano licks and a gritty, solid vocal. Guilty Pleasure maybe fast in pace, but there is a sadness to it. Bernie Taupin's lyrics have that intrinsic tendency to keep any song from being too much of a good time. It has always been the way. Most of Elton's material featuring Taupin's lyrics have a percentage of essential melancholy in there somewhere. The moving melody and lyric and vocal performance of Tambourine would seem to exemplify that perfectly.


The album's closer, The Open Chord is a tender ballad, with a fetching vocal from Elton (albeit slightly slurred) and a lovely  piano/strings bridge part.

On the whole, Wonderful Crazy Night is an album of high quality but without any really catchy, obvious "hit single" style tracks. There is a comfortable feeling about it, like you are in safe hands,  and it is a very pleasurable listen, but once it is over, you can't actually remember too many individual tracks, just a memory of having enjoyed it. It is quite nice, also, to have a contemporary album that only lasts 41 minutes (like a seventies album) as oppose to being 70 minutes long and 16 tracks. Therefore, one ends the listen perfectly satisfied.

You really can't criticise Elton John for putting out quality albums like this, however. If he had released it in the late seventies or early eighties it would have been hailed as a great album. Indeed it is far superior to some of his mid-eighties output.

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