For Elton, Sleeping With The Past Shows A Promising Future
For the past decade, Elton John has attempted a comeback. Albums like Ice On Fire and Jump Up produced some hits, but never anything like the true talent Elton showed on his gold albums of the ’70’s. Last year’s Reg Strikes Back was the first step towards a new Elton John, this time, without a Steinway or an orchestra. But Reg Strikes Back lacked a good deal of the funk and originality found on the early albums, with the exception of the hit “I don’t wanna go on with you like that,” the ballad, “A Word in Spanish,” and the quick tempo of the New York City inspired “Mona Lisa’s Mad Hatter, Part 2,” Reg struck out. Sleeping With The Past, Elton John’s latest LP is a very different story. Combining the lyrics of long-time partner Bernie Taupin, and the creativity that’s been buried inside him for over ten years, Elton has proven himself again. Sleeping With The Past plays on the classic hits the artists of the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s accomplished, mixed with the technology of the ’80’s. The first song on the album, “Durban Deep,” is a combination of reggae and rock which is followed by the hit “Healing Hands,” which sounds like it could be a commercial for soap, but continues to work its way up the charts. From here, eight songs follow, incorporating guitar solos of Davey Johnstone, (who has played on almost every Elton John album), and a wide array of synthesized sounds and instruments. The title track, “Sleeping With The Past,” and “Stones Throw From Hurtin’,” have a rock and roll feel, something like the ’60’s Rolling Stone’s music. “Sacrifice,” a love song, will be a hit, as will “Whispers” and “Club at the End of the Street.” But the two greatest successes on “Sleeping With The Past” have been kept quiet: “Amazes Me” has a gospel feel, with the piano sounds of the ’50’s –Elton shines; and “Blue Avenue” has the vintage sound of the Elton John album released almost two decades ago. Overall, Sleeping With The Past is a masterpiece. It is successful at combining the new Elton John with the old one. What has kept Elton in the music business is his loyal fans who will now hear what they’ve been waiting to hear for too long. At his concert at Great Woods in Mansfield, Ma. on Aug. 1, Elton closed with a funky “Rocket Man” in which he sang out “Thank you for letting me be myself again.” Well, Mr. John, you’re more than welcome.