52 albums – week 47

I’m not too sure where this weeks post sprung from as Elton John and Leon Russell aren’t two artists that would normally have been on my radar. I suspect the story behind it’s unlikely recording is what piqued my interest. The link below explains it all (there are 4 parts so keep clicking through)

but the potted version is this. Apparently Leon Russell’s career had been waning for quite a number of years, not quite forgotten but playing the American equivalent of RSL clubs. As a young man he had been a formative influence on Elton Johns music. Anyway Sir Elton mentioned him in an interview on Spectacle. Elton’s partner, David Furnish who looks to be a lot younger than him, was unfamiliar with Leon Russell so downloaded some of his stuff to Ipod. On holidays later that year (A safari in Africa, no less!) Elton was listening to Leon again and the seeds of this album were planted. He enlisted the aid of T-Bone Burnett booked studio time and the resulting collaboration was The Union.

Lots to like. Gone To Shiloh is probably my pick. Apparently Shiloh means ‘peace’ in Hebrew but here, they are referring to the Battle Of Shiloh which was right at the start of the American Civil War. I particularly love the mix of the 3 voices on this track. Neil Young’s verse just embellishes what is already a beautiful song. The track before it Hey Ahab comes in a close second in the popularity stakes. A Dream Come True is yet another favorite, apparently the first song that they penned together. I just love the sound of those two Pianos cooking up that infectious rhythm – chugging away night and day. Then theirs the back half of the album which has its own share of gems. When Love Is Dying is classic big schtick Elton but you know it doesn’t sound tired. He doesn’t sound like someone who’s been churning out torch ballads like this for so much of his career. It’s almost like the collaboration has re-invigorated him.
I Should Have Sent Roses sees Leon and Bernie working together sans Elton and its great. It makes you take stock of how big a part of Elton’s sound (not just his lyrics), Bernie has been over the last 43 years. Which is something Sir Elton acknowledges not just in the sleeve notes for this CD but in much of what I’ve been browsing through on-line lately.
Lastly a comment on the video. If you click-through the embedded clip below to YouTube you’ll be privy to a great potted history of both the recording and’ The Battle of Shiloh’. The lady that put together this wonderful montage of Civil War Photos (That’s her Great, Great Grandfather in the opening portrait) has done a magnificent job.
Anyway here is the album and my favorite track Gone To Shiloh:

Hope you enjoy it.

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