Elton John Releases his Perfect album!
Elton John ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ Review by John Beaudin
It’s not only Elton John day in here, it’s seems to be happening everywhere. His new album has finally dropped., ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ – his 33rd project. The release seems poignant considering how many rock stars we have lost in the last month. Elton is still here partly because of some good luck and decisions he’s made. A few mis-steps on-and-off some records but in the end ‘it’s not how you fall down, it’s how you get up.’ Getting those lessons is not lost on Elton John and that’s what I hear on this happy record. He told Matt Lauer on the Today show, “The thing about life is its amazing what unfolds if you just let it and take the risks.” He also said, “At 69 years of age I’m playing and singing better than ever.” He is!
I’ve already reviewed the first single, ‘Looking Up,’ on another video. In December the title track was released as another teaser. It’s a great intro to what Elton calls, “A southern rock-‘n’-roll album.” His love of R&B piano shows on this one.
‘In the Name of You’ brought me back to ‘Don’t Shoot Me’ from the melody, the keyboard hook but mostly Elton’s voice – there’s a spark there. You know what is it? Excitement! Optimism!
‘Claw Hammer’ has this mysterious, delicious instrumental extro. Just when you think you got the tune along comes this little surprise. It’s subtle but I only wish it was longer.
‘Blue Wonderful’ is the third single on the project and in the beginning Elton almost talks the words. His whispers, soft singing just works for this tune.
The search to teach the right thing seems very autobiographical on ‘I’ve Got 2 Wings.’ It reminded me of those 50-60 album cuts on older Elton LP’s that sounded as good as the hits. As a song about playing for, then ultimately, meeting your maker it very topical right now in Rock and Roll.
Also, get the deluxe edition with the 2 bonus tracks, I loved especially the rocker ‘England and America’ with great do-whop vocals from the band. It’s very retro Elton.
This is the first album since ‘The Captain and the Kid’ from 2006 which features the core Elton John band that recorded so many of those hits in the 70’s. Guitarist Davey Johnstone who joined Elton on ‘Madman Across the Water’ in 1971, percussionist Ray Cooper is back too. He first appeared on an Elton album in 1972 with ‘Honkey Chateau.’ Nigel Olsson who was there from the beginning in 1969 with ‘Empty Sky.’ Though he was on and off for some of the 80’s and 90’s Nigel is known as the quintessential Elton drummer. Special mentions to Roger Pope though who we lost in 2013. If bassist, Dee Murray was alive he would also be on this record. He died in 1992.
At one point, in the mid-sixties, Elton said he would have been happy working in a record store. Now with 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums his partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin is not only set to continue but they’re at the top of their game!
I thought this phase of Elton’s career had reached it’s plateau with his reflective ‘The Diving Board’ which I loved in 2013 but if Elton does start slowing down his touring which he has promised he may have many more albums in him. Elton will never score hits like the 70’s again but this version has much more to say. – by John Beaudin