Elton John

Wonderful Crazy Night

(Mercury Records/Universal)

So Elton’s back in the studio and looking at the artwork he’s very pleased to be there. Luckily John seems to put out a collection only when he feels like it rather than bowing to the industry demand for regularity of product. We do know that he is harvesting maximum pleasure from parenthood, that he still cares about those he considers downtrodden and unfairly treated AND that he is a tireless charity fundraiser and campaign leader. That doesn’t automatically mean that he’s making great records, or that last Mother Teresa funk collection would have been a killer…

‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ is a lively opener and as close as Elton will get to Billy Joel in style. Lyrically it paints a vivid picture of a memorable romantic night. Taupin and John remain a great musical pairing. In the Name of You has a brisk but solemn intro, with smooth Hammond and background fuzz guitar. The band is a proper band and plays like it, they are John’s trump card. No need for him to overcome any studio chill. The bass on this cut is ace and the guitar solo incisive.

‘Claw Hammer’ has a bluesy undercurrent and but for the vocal you may not think it was John. Not sure who or what type maybe the target is here. The guitar and piano weave is really effective, really musical; ‘Blue Wonderful’ is a soppy love song, melodic and catchy. Could be off Yellowbrick Road. One for the established fans.

‘I Got 2 Wings’ turns out NOT to be about a trip to the Chinese, but a story of a US preacher, delivered first person. I guess Elton must have known Ronnie Lane and this steps close to dear Ronnie’s style. Catchy stuff, as is much of this..A Good Heart is a light-touch romantic piece; ‘Looking Up’ is a kind of redemption/reflection tale using a terrific electric piano sound and Huey Lewis beat. We shouldn’t forget how great a keys player this bloke has always been. ‘Guilty Pleasure’ has a fine jukebox vibe, you can’t help but clap along. This MUST go in live shows, I humbly suggest.

Neat chordal progression and what sounds like 12 string acoustic. My favourite cut on this set, it’s like Rick Nelson brought up to date.

‘Tambourine’ has 12 string and a folky chug, maybe the best vocal here. Maybe our man’s been listening to Gordon Lightfoot. Lovely song and radio-friendly production.

Now does the song ‘The Open Chord’ mean that Elton is about to break out the slide guitar? The baroque strings intro says no. This one is very Neil Diamond, bar the vocal tone.

On to the extra cuts on the edition we bought – ‘Free and Easy’ is an airy folk ballad that reminds me of Tumbleweed times. England and America gives us a paean to the countries where John feels most at home, given a semi-stadium arrangement. Another good song. And better still, Elton being Elton.

So, an upbeat and very musical Elton John going easy on the syrup and melancholy this time around and instead putting together a colourful and varied rock-edged collection. A reassertion of class and craft, to these ears.

Pete Sargeant

Elton John

Elton John’s new album ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ is out now on Mercury Records/Universal. In addition, Elton John will support the release an extensive UK tour which will see him perform at outdoor venues and headline several music festivals. The dates are as follows: 

(Headline ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ Tour with special guest Foy Vance)

Friday 10th June 2016 – (Outdoor Show), Lincolnshire Showground, Lincoln, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1QhGuFT
Saturday 11th June 2016 – (Outdoor Show), Grace Road, Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Leicester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1Vhhe7c
Sunday 12th June 2016 – Longleat, Near Warminster, Wiltshire, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1WnBtQS
Tuesday 14th June 2016 –Echo Arena, Liverpool, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1SPQz3E
Sunday 19th June 2016 – (Outdoor Show), Exeter Westpoint, Exeter, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1PA1GK2
Saturday 25th June 2016 –Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1VhiQh2

UK Festivals

Sunday 26th June 2016 –  (Outdoor Show), Nocturne Festival, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (SOLD OUT)

Wednesday 6th July 2016 – (Outdoor Show & Black Tie Event) Floating Stage, Henley-On-Thames Festival, Henley-On-Thames, United Kingdom  http://bit.ly/1TlOts5

Winter Indoor Arena Headline Shows

Friday 2nd December 2016 – SSE Arena Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1TjlvYF

Saturday 3rd December 2016 – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1XtqpTg

For more information visit Elton John’s Official Website: http://bit.ly/1PXdLdI