Elton John's Wonderful Crazy Night: What You Need To Know
With more than 30 studio albums, half a dozen soundtracks and a career record sales total estimated to be somewhere north of 250 million, Sir Elton John needs no introduction whatsoever. For most of the last five decades, Elton has been an ever-present force, armed with the combination of an electric stage presence and a seemingly unending catalogue of memorable, chart-topping songs. The latter is one of the products of his long-standing partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin which, at 48 years and counting, has outlasted most marriages and produced some of the world's best-known tunes.
After the introspective affairs that have been his last two albums – 2010's Leon Russell collaboration The Union and 2013's The Diving Board – his new album, Wonderful Crazy Night, harks back to Elton's rock & roll roots.
The album arrives in stores today (you can purchase and preview at the top-right of this page), here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
Incredibly, Elton's last full-length release, The Diving Board, became his first solo album since 1976's Blue Moves to break into the UK Album Chart's top 5. That record saw Elton stripping things back to nothing more than the piano, bass and drums arrangements that featured so heavily on his early albums, employing session drummer Jay Bellerose on tub-thumping duties alongside Raphael Saadiq playing bass guitar.
Although every one of his albums over the last couple of decades have reached the Top 20, some artists might have looked to replicate the success of The Diving Board by doing something similar, but Elton commented in a recent interview with The Killers' Brandon Flowers that, although he cites The Diving Board as being amongst his favourite albums, he felt the need do do something that was a better fit in the arenas that he so often packs out on his live tours. The result is an uptempo record that's as close to straight-up rock & roll as anything he's ever done.
Who's producing it?
Recent years have seen Elton John develop a fruitful partnership with producer Joseph “T-Bone” Burnett and that continues here, with the veteran producer manning the controls throughout the entire album. As ever, songwriting duties are all handled by the interminable partnership of Elton and Bernie.
Any special guests?
This time around it's all Elton, although it's worth noting that Wonderful Crazy Night is the first album since 2006's The Captain & The Kid to feature the Elton John Band, the group of touring musicians that have accompanied Elton's live performances over much of his career.
What does it sound like?
The first thing to note here is that Elton is clearly in a happy place and that's reflected in both Taupin's lyrics and the upbeat nature of most of the album's songs. Only 'Blue Wonderful' and 'A Good Heart' really veer into ballad territory, but for the most part tracks like lead single 'Looking Up' and the title track are the sound of Elton's band let loose in the studio and rattling through some good old rock & roll. It's not all full throttle though; 'In The Name of You' might have a more gentle pace, but it's blues-heavy piano and guitar licks are still very much in the classic rock vibe that runs throughout Wonderful Crazy Night.
Does it deliver?
Although he's been around long enough to feel like part of the furniture, even by Elton's unit-shifting standards his last couple of records have seen him mining a rich seam of creativity and if you enjoyed The Diving Board but were hoping for something with a little more swagger next time around, this will be right up your street.