Produced by Elton John and Matt Still
Label – Interscope/Mercury
How the music world changes. There was a time during the 60s, 70s and 80s, when every erstwhile teenager saw anyone who was still performing after the age of 30 as the mortal enemy. Kids would fear for their safety if they admitted to like anything their parents listen to. Maybe the fact that the evolution of revolutionary music is long gone, and the kids are turning back to the original icons like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan whilst still retaining their street credibility. Although never regarded as a musical heavyweight, Elton John is enjoying something of a renaissance in his later years too. Having worked with seemingly cool New York Pop/Dance act Scissor Sisters for their recent release and his successful writing score for the trendy Billy Elliott musical, it would seem that Mr Dwight is relevant again. The dark moments of the 80s and 90s are a long forgotten memory, and positive reviews seem to remind one of those heady days of the early 70s when Elton was King of the camp pop.
The sparkle of the early 70s success is the reference point for “The Captain And The Kid”. Elton and Bernie Taupin recollect their joyous rise to stardom through the course of this 10 song collection and is considered by the pair a follow up to the 1975 number one “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy”. They relive the influences that led them to their lyrical and musical marriage, the trips to America, and the lost and found love. Whilst the album is distinctly pop, there is a mixture of diluted country and bar room blues to add the slightest flavour, and Elton’s piano performance is as classically strong as ever.
As an expression of a new, bright and innovative recording, “The Captain And The Kid” fails to deliver. Too many Disney Movie soundtracks, Broadway musicals and Vegas residencies have left the music staid, flabby and uninspiring. The sentimentalist views are sweet and well delivered, but ultimately sterile. The peaks of his early career were created by a carefree vibrance, an ability for Elton to telepathically portray Taupin’s lyrics with some delicious pop hooks. “And The House Fell Down” is a perfect example of the malaise. Obviously written about 80s addictions, the song actually sounds exactly the same as the 80s hit “I’m Still Standing”. It makes one wonder that, having written so many songs together, have the pair lost the ability to determine what is and isn’t a musical repeat of their back catalogue ? “The Bridge” has all the melodrama of a Jim Steinman song without the slightest venom, and “Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way (NYC)” where the sycophantic tones may sound well meaning, but have the staying power of elevator music. “Just Like Noah’s Ark” steals a Chuck Berry trademark riff, and adds a concoction of studio polish, crystal clear production and sweet instrumentation to create as pedestrian and insignificant blurb one is ever likely to hear.
There are a couple of exceptions to the mountainous shortcomings of the album. “I Must Have Lost It On The Wind” is a pretty country/pop love song with definite chart potential, “Blues Never Fade Away” which challenges our mortality and faith with some strong Taupin lyrics, and the opener “Postcards From Richard Nixon” which brightly reminds us of the past, and is the closest to being a worthy addition to Elton’s back catalogue.
But ultimately,“The Captain And The Kid” challenges nothing we already knew before. Elton is becoming an icon of mediocrity.
1.”Postcards from Richard Nixon” – 5:15
2.”Just Like Noah’s Ark” – 5:33
3.”Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way (NYC)” – 4:38
4.”Tinderbox” – 4:25
5.”And the House Fell Down” – 4:48
1.”Blues Never Fade Away” – 4:45
2.”The Bridge” – 3:38
3.”I Must Have Lost It on the Wind” – 3:53
4.”Old ’67” – 4:01
5.”The Captain and the Kid” – 5:03