Two recent releases that deserve more than a mere "NYCD Newsletter" mention are the new CDs from Elton John and Jonatha Brooke.
First up, "The Captain & The Kid," Elton's sequel to his 1975 classic "Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy." I've read a number of stellar reviews and I don't get it. Let's face it, Sir Elton's 70's output is some of the greatest in rock 'n' roll history. All of his records from 1971's "Madman Across The Water," thru the aforementioned "Capt. Fantastic" are arguably masterpieces, with the exception of 1974's "Caribou," which still has some damn fine moments. But to true Elton fans, the majority of his output after 1976's "Blue Moves," his last great (and completely underrated) album was unlistenable. Which brings me to "The Captain & The Kid," a hokey account of Elton's life with lyricist Bernie Taupin, picking up in 1970 where "Captain Fantastic" left off.
Elton's voice, which sounded so much better and younger on the wonderful "Peachtree Road," his last release just 18 months ago, is painful. He makes Bea Arthur sound like Lily Pons. And there is nothing to offer musically. The production is flat. The melodies are hookless. It's just awful. The majority of the writing sounds like outtakes from "Red, White, & Blaine," the painfully funny musical from "Waiting For Guffman."
Check out these lyrics from "Just Like Noah's Ark," a song, I think, about Elton & Bernie's arrival in the U.S."
"Ain't It Just Like Noah's Ark/There's two of every kind
Pretty girls and boys in drag/Walking a fine thin line
Radio boss dippin' his nose in a little white packet (pssst, he means cocaine)
You can put it out son and we'll all back it
Just like Noah's Ark"
Really? That's just like Noah's ark? No llamas? Every song has lyrics that are just as laughable. Caveat Emptor. Let's hope there's no Part Three.
JONATHA BROOKE is a wonderful singer-songwriter, who unlike Suzanne Vega, has never had that one monster hit to open everyone's eyes and ears. She is also unlike Lisa Loeb in that she has never had a cooking show. But for those who don't know, get on the horn, call me up, and order her new CD/DVD package, "LIVE IN NEW YORK," a perfect record from beginning to end, recorded in March of 2004 from a week's worth of performances at the Public Theatre in N.Y..
I have always said, it is easier to explain why I don't like something, than why I do. (see above) So, I will make this brief: Miss Brooke has everything. A perfect voice, lyrics that are at times funny, vengeful, and self-deprecating, and at other times heartbreaking. And unlike Miss Vega, who's music I've always respected, Miss Brooke never forgets about the melody. Her band does wonders with the material, especially featured vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anne-Marie Milazzo, who will leave you mesmerized.
The setlist is my dream setlist (a future blog, stay tuned.) Every song I would want to hear in a performance is here and done flawlessly. The alt-rocking "Crumbs," the funky-for-Jonatha "Room In My Heart," album faves like "Red Dress," "Linger," and "Steady Pull," and two of the most gorgeous ballads ever written "Because I Told You So" and "Landmine." (I dare you to listen to those last two and not be moved.)
I would much rather listen to music than watch it, which is why I usually just opt for the CD-only version of a new release, than the deluxe "bonus DVD" version. But trust me on this one. Miss Brooke's stories between songs are just as amazing, and the overall presentation--performance seemlessly fading in and out of black & white rehearsal footage--is a refreshing change. BUY THIS NOW!!