: The Union

The Union

Mike Daly

the-union-elton-john-leon-russellElton John & Leon Russell; CD;
Mercury; 2010; $19.99

Forty years ago, Leon Russell and Elton John first met and briefly teamed up for a US tour. But while Elton became a global star, Leon — following his success as part of Joe Cocker’s `Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ tour movie/album — gradually settled for a career as journeyman-producer and session player. Of course, since then, Leon has cemented his place in popular memory with standards like `Delta Lady’, `A Song For You’ and `This Masquerade’.

Elton now credits Leon as a major musical influence, and he suggested that they team up again for `The Union‘ — an all-new duet reunion evoking early-’70s musical styles. Producer T Bone Burnett sat them at duelling pianos, backed by a roster of session heavy-hitters. Memorable guest appearances include Neil Young (`Gone To Shiloh’) and Brian Wilson (`When Love Is Dying’). While not every track’s a winner, this album grows on you and the artists’ sense of enjoyment is infectious. Most poignant is Leon’s final song, the autobiographical `In The Hands Of Angels’, while others, like the smart funky opener `If It Wasn’t For Bad’ and the slow-gospel `There’s No Tomorrow’, have an instant-classic feel.

MIKE DALY is a Melbourne journalist and music reviewer.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 292
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