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Instant Classic!

  • Jun 3, 2011
During one of the final episodes of AMC's spectacular (though regrettably short-lived) legend-on-legend music interrogatory - Spectacle with Elvis Costello - Elton John spoke passionately of his life-long debt to Leon Russell for transforming a struggling session player named Reginald Dwight into the Captain that is Fantastic. Besides not seeing that homage coming, I immediately began wondering what a John/Russell collaboration might sound like. At this stage of their careers, I was poised to turn down the sound.

I shouldn't have worried, this record is simply amazing.

Union is a flat-out instant classic and has gone a long way towards restoring my faith in a music business that has largely kicked old school blues to the curb in favor of artless artists who routinely depend on studio rendered sleight-of-hand to crank out disposable club-ready content.

With T. Bone Burnett firmly at the controls, both artists sound rejuvenated. John - freed of his "Red Piano" casino schtick - proves that he can still bring the barroom honky tonk, with Leon (probably just happy to be here) unleashing his gospel-tinged growl all over the material that is a uniformly excellent, eclectic blend of country, blues and straight ahead rock and roll.

Union's musical highlights are too numerous to mention individually and "filler" is not to be found. Many have commented that this record returns both artists to their early 1970's peak. While you can never really turn back the clock, it's nice that they have both found a new mountain to climb. Union is a must-have and completely unexpected.

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June 08, 2011
Interesting review! I had never heard of the connection between John and Russell. Sounds like a disc that is definitely worth sampling.
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Michael Neiss ()
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Member Since: Jun 25, 2009
Last Login: Jun 10, 2011 01:38 PM UTC
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About this album


Set for release by Universal in October, 2010, and produced by T Bone Burnett, The Union marks the culmination of a mutual musical adoration that began in the late 1960s, ahead of Elton's debut US performance in 1970 at The Troubadour Club in Los Angeles. The album is a collaboration between Elton and Leon Russell, with songs by Elton and Bernie Taupin; by Elton, Bernie and Leon; by Elton and Leon and by Leon alone.

The Union was recorded in Los Angeles earlier this year, with guest musicians including Brian Wilson, Booker T, Don Was and Neil Young. Cameron Crowe has filmed the sessions for a documentary, creating too a moment of history as this is the first time that the genesis of Elton's music has been recorded on film. Critics who have had an early preview of the album are united in praise for the work that Elton describes as a "Seventies record with a modern feel."

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Label: Decca
Genre: Pop
Release Date: October 19, 2010

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