Like Noah's Ark
Any Other Way
Must Have Lost It
On The Wind
& The Kid
September 12, 2006
a long-time Elton John fan, I had high expectations for this album.
After all, it was created as a sequel to Sir Elton's 1975 landmark
project "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,"
one of my personal favorites. Upon listening to "The Captain
& The Kid," I was not only pleased with what I heard, but
the album far exceeded my highest expectations. This is a personal
triumph for both John and his long-time collaborator, Bernie Taupin,
as it recaptures the sound and feel of some of their greatest accomplishments
from the 1970s. The album also features drummer Nigel Olsen who
was a member of the band 3 decades ago when Elton was an ever-present
fixture on the charts.
like "Captain Fantastic," this is an autobiographical
account of their relationship as friends and writing partners over
the years starting with "Postcards From Richard Nixon,"
which recalls their initial encounter with America as budding rock
stars. Taupin's pointed lyrics truly set the tone of the era: "Richard
Nixon's on his knees, he sent so many overseas, he'd like to know
if you and me could help him in some way." One is immediately
taken back to Elton's heyday with the opening piano solo which is
reminiscent of his material on "Honkey Chateau" and "Don't
Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player." It's interesting to note
that the lyrics are an extension of the compositions on "Captain
Fantastic," but the music and studio mix are more in the style
of Elton's earlier work.
second tune, "Just Like Noah's Ark" is an infectious rocker
with some fine slide guitar from Davey Johnstone and a nifty Hammond
organ solo from Elton. The tune has a raunchy bar band sound that
serves as the perfect backing for Taupin's tale about the raucous
lifestyle of an up and coming rock star on tour. On the next tune
things slow down a bit with "Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way
(NYC)," Taupin's beautiful paean to New York City set to one
of Elton's trademark melodies, one very similar
to the hauntingly beautiful "Tiny Dancer." Taupin warmly
reminisces about their early touring days and how much they always
enjoyed their stay in the Big Apple: "I remember it like it
was yesterday, snow in the park and skaters on the ice, long black
cars standing side-by-side, loading up the boys at night."
is another beautiful piano-driven ballad that deals with the strain
of John and Taupin's relationship toward the end of their chart-topping
days. The familiar backing vocals of Johnstone and Olsen are ever
present on this tune, which reminds one of the classic numbers from
the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" era. John's drug-addled
years are the subject of the next tune, "And the House Fell
Down," a mid-tempo rocker that really hits home with some of
Taupin's more disturbing lyrics: "The TV's on and the colors
really hurt my head, if I could think straight, I'd wish that I
was dead." Taupin's reference to the house falling down reflects
the frightening possibility of their success collapsing around them
due to John's continued drug abuse, creating some of the most poignant
moments on the album.
is "Blues Never Fade Away," a sentimental number that
deals with the loss of some of their closest friends. There are
references to John Lennon and Gianni Versace plus a special nod
to AIDS victim Ryan White: "He wasn't famous but I sure did
love him, I got his picture in a little frame, he lost his life
to a big disease, before it even had a name." This lush ballad
follows in the tradition of some of Elton's later work and is one
of the most sentimental and moving compositions of his career. Following
is "The Bridge," which is a gorgeous ballad featuring
a stunning vocal by Elton as he accompanies himself on piano with
no other instrumental backing. This tender composition is about
the struggle for success as it poses the question "Do you cross
the bridge or do you fade away?" It contains some of Taupin's
more symbolic lyrics as it deals with the reality of life and the
difficulties one encounters while striving to reach their goals.
Must Have Lost It On the Wind," has a very pleasant bluegrass
feel reminiscent of the material on Elton's "Tumbleweed Connection"
LP from 1971. The song takes a nostalgic look at their past loves
and what they've learned from them, if anything: "From one
you learn something and another you learn nothing, and there's one
who might teach you everything." The album closes with some
of Taupin's most personal lyrics, starting with "Old 67,"
which is the year they met and started their climb to the pinnacle
of success. "Old '67 what a time it was, what a time of innocence,
what a time we've lost. Raise a glass and have a laugh, have a laugh
or two. Here's to old '67 and an older me and you." It's a
nostalgic trip set to a relaxed r&b-tinged backing track, with
some excellent guitar fills provided once again by Davey Johnstone.
"The Captain & The Kid" closes out the album with
a piano reprise of the original opening from "Captain Fantastic"
before launching into a breezy, swaying, country rock tune that
summarizes their extraordinary careers.
is an essential Elton John album, arguably one of the best he's
released in a decade or more. In fact, it turns out to be a collector's
item of sorts because for the first time both John and Taupin are
featured on the front cover together. I could go on and on about
how much I like this album, but I feel that Elton himself expressed
it best: "The album is a celebration of our lives and our lifetimes,
of our music and of the music we love. The Captain & The Kid
continues our story. You can't look back, we're looking ahead. I
find the whole album to be so touching and beautiful for me because
I've lived it. I lived it with Bernie and we've come through it.
We've gone over the bridge and here we are at the other side."
to Archives |