A tribute to 50 years of Elton John
The star-studded tribute album “Revamp: The Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin” was released Friday, April 6, ahead of another star-filled tribute, “Elton John: I’m Still Standing – A Grammy Salute,” set to air April 10 on CBS.
Featuring a variety of pop and rock artists, “Revamp” was curated by Elton John to celebrate 50 years of writing. The album includes many of his greatest hits reimagined into pop songs. In the 13 songs recorded for the album, there are some hits, some misses and some that just don’t quite leave a memorable impression.
The album opens with “Bennie and the Jets,” performed by P!nk and Logic. They say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, and unfortunately such is true of this song.Logic’s rap seems too forced and the overall production strays too far from the original.
Next comes “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” by Coldplay. This song seems made for lead singer Chris Martin, and though it is beautifully sung, it is not one of the stand-outs on the album.
Surprisingly, Alessia Cara’s version of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is one of the better revamped Elton John songs on the album. She brings an R&B/soul feel to the song, though it’s the guitar that truly makes this song complete.
One of the best songs on this album is “Candle in the Wind” sung by Ed Sheeran. Produced by Peter Asher, this cover sounds like it could have been written for Sheeran, as it fits his vocal style perfectly.
Florence + The Machine follows Sheeran on the album with their rendition of “Tiny Dancer.” This is how a cover should be: The artist brings their style to the song and truly showcases both the original and the new song at its best. Elton John said of this song, “It shows [Florence] at her very best, and the arrangement and everything on this track is mind blowing.”
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” one of Elton John’s most personal songs, has been stripped down by Mumford & Sons and reworked into a haunting version of the original. “It’s one of the best things Mumford & Sons has ever done,” Elton John said.
Tracks four through six are without a doubt three of the best tracks on the album However, the next three songs – “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” (Mary J. Blige), “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (Q-Tip ft. Demi Lovato) and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” (The Killers) – despite being well-sung and bringing new takes on classic songs, sadly each seem to miss the mark.
Another standout on the album is Sam Smith’s cover of “Daniel.” Smith’s haunting and sorrowful voice lends itself perfectly to this song, which made Elton John’s writing partner Taupin cry when he heard it live.
The next two songs are powerful ballads – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” (Miley Cyrus) and “Your Song” (Lady Gaga). Both songs are beautifully done covers of two of Elton John’s most popular songs.
The album closes with a song that, while good, doesn’t match the quality of some of the other tracks on the album. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” sung by Queens of the Stone Age, ends up sounding almost too much like a karaoke version of this popular Elton John song for it to truly shine on this album.
Overall this album does a good job of paying tribute to a great writer, great singer and great performer as he prepares to begin his three-year Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.