Various Artists: Revamp — Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Posted April 21, 2018 by in



3/ 5


Genre: Pop, rock
Producer: Various
Label: Island
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 56:46
Release Date: 6 April 2018
Spin This: "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Daniel"


Florience + the Machine, Coldplay wins the race. Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, The Killers and Mary J Blige are next in line with decent, even creative covers


"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" breaks our hearts and "Bennie and the Jets" fails to take off.

New compilation of covers shows off the strengths of Elton John’s ageless pop and the creative weaknesses of some millennial artists

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

New compilation of covers shows off the strengths of Elton John’s ageless pop and the creative weaknesses of some millennial artists 

With the aching news of Sir Elton John facing a partial retirement after the conclusion of a worldwide, three-year Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, the music world swiftly reacted to the news by scrambling together a compilation of remakes done with a contemporary paint stroke. The artists assembled, mostly millennials who weren’t alive when Elton (and writing partner Bernie Taupin) made their songwriting splash on America with “Your Song” back in 1970, is enough to raise a conservative eyebrow, but most songs measure from fair to excellent. Others are just downright inexcusable: Q-Tip and Demi Lovato are assigned “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and try to blend its bubbly pop melody with an itchy spacey arrangement that suffers in its reach for D’Angelo swag. “Bennie and the Jets” is also an earful to forgive, by incorporating a sample of John’s original vocals into a spaced-out frazzle featuring a half-assed Logic doing a few rhymes and a lackadaisical Pink. And there’s the others: 21-year old Alessia Cara forgets to change the gender for her convenience on “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” while piling up the melisma like a gospel singer hungry for discovery; Lady Gaga chooses “Your Song” and uncovers some of the vocal weaknesses of her bottom register; “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” is too big for Miley Cyrus, even on this twangy country-rock rendition here.


But the collection bares some very excellent covers, most notably Florence + the Machine’s marvelous interpretation of “Tiny Dancer.” Florence Welch knows exactly her style and her distinguishable abilities and she remains true to it, pouring out her Annie Lennox-esque emotions into an arrangement overrunning with sultry strings and goth pop ambiance. Quite frankly, it’s the finest performance of the whole album. But Coldplay with Chris Martin on lead brings the next best moment with “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” a piano-and-strings ballad that matches their melancholic muse.


Looking for more “rocket man” goodness? The Killers’ Brandon Flowers goes for “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” an oddball in the John catalog, and leave their imprint without sacrificing most of their alt-rock street cred. Mary J. Blige sinks her “No More Drama” hip-hop soulfulness into “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” giving R&B lovers something appetizing to play with. Sam Smith’s take on “Daniel,” Ed Sheeran on “Candle in the Wind” and a rousing psychedelic pop plow of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” from Queens of the Stone Age – all performances that favor John’s arrangements and melodies – help give the set a satisfactory nudge. If you dodge the aforementioned perils, Revamped isn’t such a nightmare.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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