Thursday, February 07, 2008

What's next: Some ideas from me...

It's now been over a year since The Captain and the Kid was released and 2 years since Elton and Bernie wrote and recorded the album. Some people over at The Crazy Water Forum are asking for news on what Elton is currently working on or what his plans are for his next release.

I wish I knew. If I find out anything I will be sure to post the info.

However I do have a few ideas for projects I personally would like to see Elton undertake. So for whatever it's worth here they are.

An All-Star Instrumental Rock-n-Roll Album

One project I've always thought would be interesting is Elton putting together an all-star line-up of rock-n-roll veterans as well as his current band and recording an album of instrumental rock songs, covers and originals. Sort of like the tune Rockestra as performed by Paul McCartney on his album Back To The Egg. Each track could feature one performer, for example have a track or two featuring blistering guitar work from Eric Clapton or Slash. Maybe Billy Joel or Bruce Hornsby on piano with Elton on a few tracks. I think something like this could be a fun project if the right tracks are chosen.

Release an EP of new material recorded before a live audience

This one would either be a brilliant idea or it would crash-n-burn. I think the trick to making this work would be to record it before a small studio audience similar to how 11-17-70 was recorded. Make it an intimate setting with Elton talking to the audience about the tracks before performing them and perhaps answering questions. Sort of like the VH1 Storytellers series. And since it would be an EP (that means Extended Play as opposed to LP) it would only have to be five or six new songs and sold at a reduced price.

Record a Smooth Jazz album

The only style of jazz I like is called Smooth Jazz. I've always liked the breezy feel of smooth jazz and think that Elton could easily pull off a smooth jazz album. It really fits his style of music and could be quite a enjoyable listen. Some tracks could be instrumental and other he can add vocals too.

Of course Elton could always go back in the studio and record another "Elton John" album that will receive critical acclaim from critics and fans. It will then tank on the charts and all of us fans will be furious.

Then there is that rap album idea.....just kidding.

Slash: one of the major guitar players I was attracted to was definitely Davey.

Elton John: Davey Johnstone is one of Slash's favorite musicians
Slash lists Davey Johnstone as one his musical favorites;

Artist: Davey Johnstone

Backstory: The longtime lead guitarist in Elton John's band, Johnstone plays with equal taste and fire. He has also worked with Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Joan Armatrading and others. Some of his most memorable playing with Elton John includes the riff-happy “Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting” and the epic ballad “Candle in the Wind.”

Slash: “This will probably be the first time I've been prompted to say this in an interview, but when I think of '70s rock guitar – which I was hugely influenced by – one of the major guitar players I was attracted to was definitely Davey. His playing is very melodic and always appropriate for the song.”

Elton's Oscar party still on

Elton John's annual post-Oscar party plans still moving forward
The Associated Press

02/06/2008 05:02:54 PM PST

LOS ANGELES—Vanity Fair's post-Oscar party is off, but Elton John's is on.

The singer and AIDS activist is moving forward with plans for his 16th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party, the foundation announced Wednesday.

"This event is our most important fundraiser of the year," it said in a statement. "Last year, we raised over $4.3 million and we expect to exceed that record this year."

John will also play a special concert set at the party, backed by his full band.

Vanity Fair canceled its party in support of striking Hollywood writers and others affected by the labor action.

John's viewing party, held at the Pacific Design Center, is always lavish and star-studded, boasting past guests such as Denzel Washington, Sting, Sharon Stone, Ben Kingsley, Kevin Spacey and Halle Berry. Among the expected guests at the Feb. 24 soiree are Victoria and David Beckham, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Donatella Versace and Elizabeth Taylor.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What happened: "The Captain and The Kid"

Elton John and The Captain and The KidBack in 2005 we heard the stories that Elton was going to record a sequel to the 1975 classic album "Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy" as suggested by his manager Merck Mercuriadis. At the time the idea was enthusiastically received and fans were buzzing about the album. As tracks lyrics and snippets of the songs began to leak out it was clear that this album was sure to be something special and some of Elton's best work since the mid 1970s. Eventually full tracks began to appear all over the internet and they were roundly praised. It appeared that Elton had done what few thought possible and that was to match his creativity from his hey-day. Music critics agreed with rave reviews, even Rolling Stone magazine, not the most Elton friendly music magazine, awarded 4 stars;

The Captain and the Kid is the third album in a career-resurrecting run that began in 2001, when Elton John took the novel approach of sitting down at a piano and writing songs that sound a lot like Elton John. The album is a sequel to 1975's chart-topping Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and it has moments that rival the original: The songs are precision instruments, from the honky-tonk pop of "Just Like Noah's Ark" to pristine ballads like the title track. With lyricist Bernie Taupin in tow, The Kid traces thirty-odd years' worth of ups and downs that befall the duo. The story line gets a little murky and the album cheeses out on songs like "The Bridge." But more than just a gift to fans, it shows Elton's gifts haven't deserted him. And that's more than good enough.

And then Universal stepped in.

Of all the wonderful songs on "The Captain and The Kid" the absolute worst choice was made as the lead single. Instead of going with any of the terrific mid-tempo songs from the album such as "Just Like Noah's Ark" or "Tinderbox" or even the self-promoting title cut Universal made the safe choice and released to radio-only (another mistake) "The Bridge." A piano only track with up-front vocals from Elton and a beautiful vocal bridge, nonetheless it was not radio-friendly nor was it memorable. Quite frankly it was a boring track and did not fairly represent the overall outstanding quality of the rest of the album. It did reasonably well at AC radio where Elton has become a staple. However it did not generate much buzz for the album and Universal decided not to release a second track to radio effectively killing the album. Curiously a wonderful video was produced for "Tinderbox" reminiscent of the Beatles "Free As A Bird" video which interspersed archival footage of Elton, Bernie and the boys into colorful nostalgic scenes of Elton in the 1970s. And another odd note was that one of the promotional placements for this video was on, the Major League Baseball official website.

Elton John and Tinderbox on MLB.comAs a result of the poor choice for the lead single and no then follow-up the album tanked on the charts and Universal essentially abandoned it. Elton was not happy. He publicly ridiculed Universal and begged them to drop him from their label.

“Nobody would know the album has been out since September.

“My record label isn’t doing anything to help. F— Universal. Please drop me. I’m 58 and I don’t care anymore.”

Quite frankly I think Elton is exactly correct. He needs to get away from the traditional record labels like Universal and go in a new direction in regards to promoting his new music. He has nothing left to prove and can probably do a much better job of getting his music out in front of a new audience as well as his core fan base. He has several options available to him in my opinion;

One option is to take the Paul McCartney route and sign with a label like Starbucks "Hear Music" which will enthusiastically and aggressively promote his new material. They have their own XM Radio channel which can feature the music as well as selling the CDs in the coffee shops.

Another option is to strike a deal similar to what Madonna did when she signed with Live Nation. The Madonna deal includes "new studio efforts, tours, merchandise, DVD releases, sponsorships, licensing agreements, fan club, Web site, and TV and film projects." The problem here is Elton has never shown the least bit of interest in the internet, in fact he hates the internet and wishes it were non-existent. This is a foolish position to take. The internet can open up Elton to an unlimited number of new fans if he would embrace it and use it to his advantage.

Elton could also just market his new music on his own website along with other exclusive merchandise. But that hating-the-internet problem gets in the way again.

As I said, Elton has nothing to prove to anyone and could easily not release another album ever again. His position as a rock legend is well established. But his creative juices are still flowing and I don't see him just disappearing off the music scene. He loves to write music, tour and perform so while he is still has the desire he will continue to record new music. However, Elton clearly needs took go in a new direction getting his new music out in front of the new music fans in order to avoid the disaster of "The Captain and The Kid" from happening again.

OT: Writer Strike Finally Almost Over

Thanks get those Lost writers back to working on the best show on TV!

Hollywood on verge of deal to end writers strike

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Negotiators for Hollywood studios and striking writers have agreed to terms of a new contract that could be presented to union leaders in days and, if approved, end their three-month-old labor clash later this week, two sources told Reuters on Monday.

While the outlines of an accord were reached over the weekend, the two sides still need to hammer out contract language before a deal is submitted for approval to the governing boards the East and West Coast branches of the Writers Guild of America, they said.

Those sources, who were briefed on the status of talks but were not authorized to speak publicly about them under a media blackout, said negotiators hoped action by the WGA boards on a deal could come as early as Friday.

An endorsement by WGA leaders presumably would be accompanied by a decision to call off the strike, but if the WGA boards were divided, the walkout might continue pending a ratification vote by rank-and-file members.

One source said the big breakthrough in the latest round of talks, which began Jan. 23, came on the key sticking point of how much writers should be paid for advertising-supported Internet "streaming" of television shows.

Elton adds North American dates

Elton John adds North American dates

Elton John expands North American run
February 5, 2008 06:02 AM
By Kym Kilgore

Elton John [ tickets ] has squeezed several more secondary-market appearances in between his "Red Piano" dates in Las Vegas.

The superstar will start back up in North America Feb. 28 with shows in Portland, ME; Manchester, NH; and Sudbury and Kitchener, Ontario. After his next run of Vegas gigs from mid-March to early April, he'll play Missoula, MT, and Pullman, WA. Then it's back to Vegas in June and off to Europe for a two-week stint that wraps in mid-July. North American shows are listed below and those overseas can be found at John's website.

The Grammy-winning singer signed on to keep his "Red Piano" residency at Sin City's Colosseum at Caesars Palace through this year. He's put in about 50 annual performances at the venue since 2004.

John, who is celebrating his fourth decade of touring, launched 2008 with a short trek through South Africa, during which he visited projects funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and oversaw the opening of three more "cluster homes," which offer a safe refuge and care for children.

Last year, John played his record-breaking 60th show at New York City's Madison Square Garden to celebrate his 60th birthday. He marked the occasion in March with the release of "Rocket Man - Number Ones," an 18-song hits collection covering the first 35 years of his career. The concert itself was captured on a two-disc DVD, "Elton John 60: Live at Madison Square Garden," which also includes rare footage from a variety of television shows and concert segments.

"The Captain & the Kid," John's latest set of new material with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, surfaced in 2006 and peaked at No. 18 on The Billboard 200. The album is billed as a sequel to 1975's "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy."

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Elton" voted off of The One and Only

Elton John impersonator on The One and OnlyApparently their is a reality show in the UK called "The One and Only" where contestants impersonate musicians. One contestant was Elton John and was voted off the show;

MUSIC teacher Ed Hintze has returned home to Weymouth after being voted off reality show The One and Only.

He ventured out from behind the piano to perform Elton John's I'm Still Standing, but lost out after a sing-off with the show's Cher impersonator.

Mr Hintze, 34, had survived the initial vote on the BBC1 show on Saturday night, when the Kylie Minogue tribute act was sent home.

Although two other acts wanted to keep him in the contest, four supported Cher in the 'superstar' vote after the sing-off.

Mr Hintze is a music shop boss and music teacher at All Saints' School in Weymouth.

Lilies in the room and tulips in the hall...

Sounds like a good title for a song..."Lilies in the Room"
Sir Elton John is still the Queen of Divas!

February 4th, 2008 - 5:50 pm

London , Feb 4 (ANI): When it comes to luxurious and wayward demands made by the stars, no one can be Sir Elton John.

The legendary singer, known for his lavish ways, still rules the roost when it comes to spending on luxurious essentials.

The Candle in the wind singer dished out a whopping 1,475 pounds on just a night at the Dorchester in London and fired off an impressive list of demands.

The 60-year-old veteran stars demands included fat-free and sugar-free cookies, a tray of raw veg, lilies in the room and tulips in the hall.

He even made it a point that the temperature didnt exceed 68C and his tissues had to be normal, and that too without balm.

Sir John also specified furniture he required, that included two buckets. (ANI)