Elton John

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Empty Sky (1969), 5/10
Elton John (1970) , 6.5/10
Tumbleweed Connection (1970), 6.5/10
Friends (1971), 5/10
Madman Across The Water (1971), 6.5/10
Honky Chateau (1972), 6.5/10
Don't Shoot Me (1973), 5.5/10
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), 6/10
Caribou (1974), 5/10
Captain Fantastic (1975), 6/10
Rock Of The Westies (1975), 4.5/10
Blue Moves (1976), 4/10
A Single Man (1978), 4/10
Victim Of Love (1979), 4/10
21 at 33 (1980), 4/10
The Fox (1981), 3/10
Jump Up (1982), 3/10
Too Low For Zero (1983), 3/10
Breaking Hearts (1984), 3/10
Ice On Fire (1985), 3/10
Leather Jackets (1986), 3/10
Reg Strikes Back (1988), 3/10
Sleeping With The Past (1989), 3/10
The One (1992), 3/10
Duets (1993), 3/10
Made In England (1995), 3/10
The Lion King (1994), 4.5/10
The Big Picture (1997), 3/10
Aida (1999), 4/10
Road To El Dorado (2000), 4/10
Songs From The West Coast (2001), 3/10
Peachtree Road (2004), 3/10

(Translated from the Italian by Joe Finegold)

Elton John (Reginald Dwight) was one of the greatest melodic talents of the twentieth century. He and the lyricist Bernie Taupin together produced some of the most memorable songs of all times. Unfortunately, the talent would eventually be put to the service of the pop industry.

Johnís voice was anything but as hoarse and passionate as that of the blues men, but was of light soul. The accompaniment of piano with his voice was unusual for its time but instantly recognisable, and was based on the solemn sentences of the gospel (but without the tinsel blues/jazz of the large organist gospel, jazz and rock) and on the beaten honky-tonk (but without the frenzy of the large pianist boogie).

Dwight took his new name from saxophonist Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. John and Taupin met in 1966 and joined together to write pop songs for other singers. John debuted with Lady Samantha on the album Empty Sky (1969). The self-titled album, Elton John (1970) showed John as the definitive rising star with Sixty Years On, Your Song, Take Me To The Pilot and Border Song. Then the albums; Tumbleweed Connection (1970), with the enjoyable Country Comfort and Burn Down The Mission, and the soundtrack of Friends (1971) took place in the first few years of Johnís career. Madman Across The Water (1971), included the romantic Tiny Dancer and the tender Levon. This album entered simultaneously to #8 in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.

Honky Chateau (1972), included the strong funk-boogie of Honky Cat, the pathos of Rocket Man and the solemn ballad Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters. Don' t Shoot Me Iím Only The Piano Player (1973), had the Mediterranean melody of Daniel and the acrobatic rock and roll of Crocodile Rock.
Then finally, Elton John released the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), his and Taupinís masterpiece. This album showed a wide range of styles and emotions. The album begins with the philosophical Funeral For A Friend which fuses into the dramatic Love Lies Bleeding. This is followed by the solemn tribute Candle In The Wind, the shining honky-tonk of Bennie And The Jets and the nostalgic title-track Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Then followed by the lonely desolation of This Song Has No Title and the excitable Grey Seal. The next track is the Caribbean based Jamaica Jerk-Off in tribute to their originally planned location of recording in Jamaica. Jamaica Jerk-Off is then followed by the stand-out track; the mellow, pianistic, jazz influenced Iíve Seen That Movie Too. The rest of the album includes the touching Sweet Painted Lady, the rough-tough Ballad of Danny Bailey, Dirty Little Girl, and the second song of the album concerning prostitution, All the Girls Love Alice. The end of the album includes the fast paced rock and roll rhythms of Your Sister Canít Twist, the anthemic Saturday Nightís All Right For Fighting, the delicate melody of Roy Rogers, Social disease and the touching conclusion Harmony.
Caribou (1974) included numbers like The Bitch Is Back and the tender Don' t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. All packed with catchy refrains, showing clearly that Elton John was a phenomenal talent. The rich, symphonic orchestras of Johnís songs on this album emphasize the romantic emotion in them.

To adapt himself to unexpected stardom, John went for the fashion of ďGlamĒ rock, putting on fur and high heels (and above all, the glasses) and jumping behind the piano like a spoiled child.
The autobiographical concept album Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) reached number 1 in the US billboard charts and the only released song from the album, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, reached number 4 in the US pop singles chart. A personal album with good song writing and musical composition. From the slow ballad of Talking Old Soldiers to Johnís rendition of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (highly superior to Lennon and McCartneyís).
1975 also saw the release of Rock Of The Westies which contains the number Island Girl.

Then Elton John did a duet with Kiki Goddesses on Don' t Go Breaking My Heart (1976), an impeccable mixture of funky guitar and orchestra. This golden period was further continued with Blue Moves (1976), a very melancholy album and quiet compared to past standards and includes the hit song (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word).
A Single Man (1978), the first album without Taupin, was also Elton Johnís first failure. Victim Of Love (1979) was his second.

The reunion with Taupin immediately produced a better album, 21 at 33 (1980) with the hit Little Jeannie.
The Fox (1981) and Jump Up (1982) were anonymous albums. Too Low For Zero (1983), contained the catchy Still Standing. Breaking Hearts (1984), had the excellent Sad Songs. Ice On Fire (1985), contained Nikita. Leather Jackets (1986), had the melancholy Heartache All Over The World. The disappointing Reg Strikes Back (1988), with the reasonable song I Don' t Wanna Go On With You Like That. Sleeping With The Past (1989) recreates the style of 60ís soul with the stand-out track being Healing hands. But these albums were really the over-commercial Elton John, and far from the golden years of Honky Chateau, Yellow Brick Road and Caribou.
In 1990 John was submitted to a nursing home for serious drug addiction and also became deeply affected by the plight of a boy, Ryan White, who suffered from AIDs. He and Michael Jackson supported the family untill Whiteís death.
He made the mature but uninspiring The One (1992), Duets (1993) and Made In England (1995) But his worst album was to be the soundtrack for the Walt Disney animated musical Lion King (1994).

Now a historical figure, John continued to churn out albums with almost annual releases including; The Big Picture (1997), the musical - Aida (1999), the soundtrack - Road To El Dorado (2000), Songs From The West Coast (2001) and Peachtree Road (2004).

Greatest Hits (1974), Greatest Hits II (1976) and Greatest Hits III (1987) were actually amongst his best-sellers.

To Be Continued (1990) was an autobiographical set of Elton Johnís music, from the days of being known as Reginald Dwight, right up to the Elton Hercules John days.

Elton John (Reginald Dwight) fu uno dei massimi talenti melodici della seconda meta` del ventesimo secolo. In collaborazione con il paroliere Bernie Taupin, ha scritto alcune delle melodie piu` memorabili del suo tempo. Purtroppo ha messo il suo talento al servizio del pop piu` corrivo.

John modello` la sua voce, al tempo stesso duttile e glaciale, tutt'altro che roca e passionale come quelle dei bluesmen, sul soul leggero della Tamla e della Philly. L'accompagnamento di pianoforte non potrebbe essere piu` lineare, modellato a sua volta sulle frasi solenni del gospel (ma senza nessuno degli orpelli blues/jazz dei grandi organisti gospel, jazz e rock) e sul battito incalzante dell'honky-tonk (ma senza la frenesia psicopatica dei grandi pianisti boogie).

Formatosi nella blues band di Long John Baldry, si affermo`, come cantante e pianista, nel circuito dei cocktail lounge. Incontro` Taupin nel 1966 e per un paio d'anni il duo si limito` a scrivere canzoni pop per altri cantanti. John debutto` in proprio con Lady Samantha e l'album Empty Sky (Uni, 1969). Due eventi determinanti cambiarono la situazione nel 1970: l'assunzione di Paul Buckmaster, l'arrangiatore orchestrale che avrebbe architettato i contrappunti sentimentali alle sue melodie, e un concerto dal vivo in cui John strabilio` con la sua tecnica al pianoforte. L'album Elton John (Uni, 1970) lancio` definitivamente l'astro nascente con Sixty Years On, Your Song, Take Me To The Pilot, Border Song. Tumbleweed Connection (1970), con Country Comfort e Burn Down The Mission, la colonna sonora di Friends (1971), registrata tre anni prima, e Madman Across The Water (1971), con Levon e la romantica Tiny Dancer, entrarono simultaneamente nei Top 10 delle classifiche di vendita.

Con l'uscita a cataratta di Honky Chateau (1972), forte del funk-boogie Honky Cat, della patetica Rocket Man, della solenne ballad Mona Lisa And Mad Hatters, di Don't Shoot Me (MCA, 1973), con la melodia mediterranea di Daniel e il rock and roll acrobatico di Crocodile Rock, del doppio Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, 1973), con il brillante honky-tonk di Bennie And The Jets, il selvaggio boogie di Saturday Night Is Alright, la nostalgica title-track e Candle In The Wind (destinata a diventare la canzone piu` venduta di tutti i tempi), e di Caribou (MCA, 1974), con la veemente The Bitch Is Back e la tenera Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, tutti stipati di ritornelli orecchiabili, divenne chiaro che Elton John era un talento prodigioso. Piano e orchestra d'archi contrappuntavano i toni fatalisti del canto in modo da accentuare la commozione romantica.

Per adeguarsi all'improvvisa stardom, John si diede all'esibizionismo piu` "glam", sbadierando la sua omosessualita`, indossando pelliccia e tacchi alti, e saltando sul pianoforte come un bambino viziato (ma soprattutto con occhiali ogni sera piu` bizzarri, tratti dalla sua collezione privata).

Il concept album autobiografico Captain Fantastic (1975) fu il primo album di tutti i tempi ad esordire al primo posto in classifica (Philadelphia Freedom, Someone Saved My Life). Stessa sorte spetto` a Rock Of The Westies (1975), che annovera Island Girl. Il massimo successo del periodo (e una delle sue melodie piu` classiche) fu il duetto con Kiki Dee Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1976), un'impeccabile miscela di chitarra funky, orchestra d'archi e battito disco. Questo secondo periodo d'oro termino` con Blue Moves (Rocket, 1976), un album molto malinconico e in sordina paragonato ai suoi standard (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word).

A Single Man (1978), il primo album senza Taupin, fu anche il suo primo insuccesso. Victim Of Love (1979) fu il secondo.

La reunion con Taupin frutto` subito un album migliore, 21 at 33 (1980) e l'hit Little Jeannie.

The Fox (Geffen, 1981) e Jump Up (1982) furono album anonimi, in cui John si cimentava con i generi alla moda (persino la disco-music). Too Low For Zero (1983), con I'm Still Standing, Breaking Hearts (1984), con Sad Songs, Ice On Fire (1985), con Nikita, Leather Jackets (1986), con Heartache All Over The World, Reg Strikes Back (MCA, 1988), con I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That, Sleeping With The Past (1989), che ricrea lo stile del soul degli anni '60 (Healing Hand), tennero accesa la fiamma, ma erano ben poca cosa rispetto agli anni d'oro.

Nel 1990 John entro` in una casa di cura per tossicodipendenti e si trasferi` negli USA, dove apri` una organizzazione di carita` a favore della ricerca sull'AIDS. Ne usci` forse piu` maturo ma non piu` ispirato: The One (1992), Duets (1993) e Made In England (1995) sono fra i suoi album peggiori. Meglio la colonna sonora di The Lion King (1994).

Ormai divenuto una personalita` storica, John continuera` a sfornare dischi con cadenza annuale senza pretendere di fare anche della musica: The Big Picture (1997), il musical Aida (1999), la colonna sonora Road To El Dorado (2000), le Songs From The West Coast (universal, 2001), Peachtree Road (Rocket, 2004).

Greatest Hits (MCA, 1974), Greatest Hits II (MCA, 1976) e Greatest Hits III (MCA, 1987) sono stati altrettanti best-seller.

To Be Continued (1990) e` un box-set antologico.

The Union (2010) was a collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter and pianist Leon Russell. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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