Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Various Artists

Island records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/14/2018

Let’s be honest: it’s not like Elton John really needed more praise and honoring from the music industry in 2018, but with the announcement of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, the industry deemed it necessary to shine a giant spotlight on the Rocket Man as he makes his final round.

The cynic in me is 100% certain that the release of Revamp has been planned for months to be in conjunction with John’s farewell announcement. So with a financial, attention-getting motivation behind its release, what is there to really justify the album’s existence? Hell, this isn’t even the first tribute album John and Bernie Taupin have been the subjects of!

But I’m feeling generous with the sun shining down and warm weather having returned to Wisconsin, so let’s just ignore that previous paragraph and take the album on its own merits, shall we? Cover albums are incredibly hard to pull off because there is a constant draw between wanting fidelity to the original song but also something new that makes listening actually worthwhile. And a quick scan down the artist lineup does reveal some pretty amazing names: Pink, Florence And The Machine, Mary J. Blige, The Killers, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Queens Of The Stone Age, just to name a few. nbtc__dv_250

The next hurdle is matching an artists with a song that fits their sensibilities, and Revamp does....a decent job with that. Florence And The Machine’s take on “Tiny Dancer” maintains the sweet beauty to the original but adds some flourishes that are very welcome and makes it sound like a song they’ve been performing for years. It was a smart move on someone’s part to let Ed Sheehan take a run at “Candle In The Wind” and just strip it down to its barest parts with his trademark, singer/songwriter flair. And while I wanted to enjoy it more, Josh Homme and Co. do take “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and throw copious amounts of acid rock on top of it, which at the very least is an entertaining mix. The same lack of fulfillment applies to “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” which was a surprising inclusion from a song choice perspective in my opinion; Coldplay does an adequate job to be sure.

In some cases, though, the reach was just too far or the song was just not a great choice. Mumford & Sons projects this image of acoustic folksiness, so taking a fairly ornate song like “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is an odd pairing. The first single released from the record was a spin on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” featuring Q-Tip and Demi Lovato....let’s call it sub-optimal and leave it at that. In fact, of the two attempts to take hip/hop and graft it onto an Elton John song, I enjoyed Pink and Logic’s contribution to “Bennie And The Jets” far more; even with the grave sin of a lyric shouting out “Elton John, the greatest of all time!” (I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS! DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT? DO YOU, LOGIC??)

Here we are, though, at the end of this review, and are we any closer to an answer to the question of was Revamp worth it? Were there good songs chosen for the track list? With John’s catalogue, it would have been hard to fail in that aspect, so Revamp gets a passing grade there. Are there some performances that are legitimately worth listening to?.....oooooh, this was the tough one, but I will say yes. “Tiny Dancer,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” and “Daniel” actually further my enjoyment of the originals, while bringing some of their own flair to the mix. But three songs out of thirteen is simply not going to cut it. If you can grab the three I mentioned, then go ahead and do so. Otherwise, you won’t look back with regret if Revamp never sees a rotation in your playlist.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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