When I first heard about Elton John and Leon Russell teaming up for an album, I thought, what an overdue idea. I had seen Leon two years back at a Dave Mason concert at the North Fork Theatre in Westbury, Long Island (my first time ever!) and was excited to hear him.
But he also didn’t look well and he hobbled off the stage with the help of a cane. His band was simply terrific and though it was a short set, he was awe inspiring.
John says that when his partner David Furnish was playing some Russell music on his iPod in Africa, of all places, it immediately reminded him of the camaraderie the two had once shared.
Russell first met John in 1970 when he attended John’s first ever U.S. show at Doug Weston’s famed Troubadour club in L.A.
The meeting began a long friendship and a mutual appreciation between the two artists. “In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the one piano player and vocalist who influenced me more than anybody else was Leon Russell,” John said. “He was my idol.”
The pair went on to tour together shortly after at New York’s famed Fillmore East.
After Elton’s musical epiphany, he called Leon and the result is finally here, proudly and perfectly titled The Union.
At first blush, it’s totally unlike anything else out there. John has temporarily relinquished his longtime Davey Johnstone touring, in favor of atmospheric musicians, like Doyle Bramhall II, guitarist Marc Ribot, keyboardist Keefus Ciancia and even Don Was (aka Don Fagenson) on bass.
The atmosphere is sometimes like being at your favorite bar, familiar and calming.
T Bone Burnett, who for my money is the producer of the moment, produced the entire project and has delivered just a sensational album.
The instruments never override the power of the vocals and lyrics. It’s a stunning testament these two giants.
You’ve known these two voices for eons and together, they’re simply mesmerizing.
Neil Young sings on one track (“Gone To Shiloh”) and Beach Boy Brian Wilson (“When Love Is Dying”) on another. I
It’s subtle for sure, but terrifically enjoying and remembering what powerful artists these two have been … and, still are.
My favorites so far are the first single “If It Wasn’t For Bad,” and “I Should Have Sent Roses” which was written by Russell and Bernie Taupin.
Those two tracks alone are worth the price of admission. “Monkey Suit” and “Hey Ahab” are guilty pleasures too.
This is the album that Elton has been threatening to make for years.
Page Six: Richard Johnson Departs, Emily Smith Arrives
Richard Johnson, the much-feared editor of the New York Post’s Page Six column, has exited the paper after an almost 25-year run. We found him all too real and approachable and always a good friend to us. We will miss him.
His replacement Emily Smith started immediately. The reporting of gossip is much different today than when Page Six started.
Actually James Brady and Neal Travis got it up and going and made it into the behemoth it became.
We’d put Johnson right up there with Liz Smith, Army Archerd and Walter Winchell. He’s now headed to L.A. to begin a new start up for Rupert Murdoch, he will be missed.
Names in the News
Barry Zelman, Pat Monaco, Tony King, Eva Mueller, Deborah Gibson, Rutludge, Melissa Daniels, Bob Merrick, Jane Pratt, Emily Smith, Richard Johnson, Ed Bucciarelli, Eppy, Judd Bernard, Patricia Casey, Brian Lowry, Chip