- 24 Feb 16
33rd studio album from the former Reginald Dwight
Arguably the most underrated major artist of the ’70s, Elton John’s earlier triumphs have been unfairly judged in the light of subsequent forays into slicker pop. The 40th anniversary re-issue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reminded us of his greatness and on albums like Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water and Rock of The Westies, he has explored his ongoing love of American roots music.
On Wonderful Crazy Night he returns – not for the first time – to that sound and era. Recorded over two weeks in LA with T Bone Burnett, the result is an organic, live-sounding and spontaneous collection. He hasn’t sounded as good in years, while songs with old sparring partner Bernie Taupin on lyric duties are among his strongest in ages too. ‘In The Name Of You’ is a meaty, mid-tempo rocker with characteristic pumping piano, Hammond organ and a strong vocal performance. ‘Claw Hammer’ smoulders with a kind of Southern swampy feel, while soulful slow-burner ‘Blue Wonderful’ – a recent single – is almost on a par with past classics such as ‘Tiny Dancer’.
The title-track harks back to the kind of funky workouts he created in the past, while ‘A Good Heart’ is a mellow ballad in the mould of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’. Elsewhere, ‘Looking Up’ is a blend of roadhouse rocker and honky-tonk country, while acoustic guitars and light percussion backdrops ‘Tambourine’ – the kind of languid country blues that might have appeared on Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard. More balladry comes with ‘The Open Chord’, which recalls his 1973 hit ‘Daniel’ while ‘I’ve Got 2 Wings’ is a convincing slice of pure Americana. In short: Elton still has it.