Good Morning To The Night (EP)
REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/11/2012
There are a couple of different ways a well-established artist can go about reintroducing their music to the current generation. There is the always-popular collaborative effort; take Glen Campbell’s last two records as primary examples. Some try to shift their sound with the times; each passing Madonna record seems to shift towards what’s current and hip, at the risk of becoming terribly dated. But hey, all the power to Madge for attempting to stay relevant, is there anything wrong with that notion?
I will admit something; prior to discovering this record’s existence via and Elton John fan forum, I had no knowledge of Pnau as a musical entity. The electronic/dance music scene is one that I tend to not pay too close attention to, so I had missed out on the contributions this duo has given the last few years. What really intrigued me was not that fact Elton was collaborating with a newer artist; the Rocket Man has made it a point to support those whose music reaches him.
No, what hooked me in was the nature of this record; I mentioned collaboration before but in reality this is a Pnau record that just happens to consist entirely of Elton John music. John opened the vaults up to the duo, and said “go to town, take whatever you need and do whatever you want.” John had discovered Pnau years earlier and even signed them to the record label on which they are currently releasing music. He has made no secret of his admiration of the duo and his belief in their talent.
The result is an occasionally fascinating, yet easily dismissible record. There are some moments in which Pnau really taps the potential this project offered; some of John’s most popular tunes achieve a whole new context that would not have existed otherwise. “Telegraph To The Afterlife” is the closest thing to a Pink Floyd cover Elton has ever “performed.” “Karmatron” takes the deliberately paced chorus to “Madman Across The Water,” and revs it up into an arena rocker anthem with the epic Moog synth opening of “Funeral For a Friend” laying underneath.
As a lifelong fan of the Rocket Man, my favorite portions of the records are those small details from deep cuts that Pnau have incorporated into the melting pot. The haunting guitar solo from “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” samples from nearly every cut of John’s little heard Thom Bell Sessions, and even the great string arrangements from “One Horse Town” off Blue Moves.
The question is, though, does this record really show the modern era of music what Elton John was capable of? Not particularly; these may be Elton’s melodies, but when reconstituted as Pnau tracks the legacy of Elton is blurred. I admire the concept of the EP, as well as the relationship between John and Pnau, but that doesn’t make Good Morning To The Night essential listening for fans of either entity.