Songs From The West Coast

Songs From The West Coast

4.9 22
by Elton John
     
 

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Just about every artist of, shall we say, "a certain age," has tried his or her luck by climbing into the ol' time machine and setting the controls for the good old days. Few make the trip unscathed, but on his latest offering, Elton John proves that it can be done. Songs from the West Coast is a surprisingly rough-and-tumble replication of the finest early…  See more details below

Overview

Just about every artist of, shall we say, "a certain age," has tried his or her luck by climbing into the ol' time machine and setting the controls for the good old days. Few make the trip unscathed, but on his latest offering, Elton John proves that it can be done. Songs from the West Coast is a surprisingly rough-and-tumble replication of the finest early Eltonia, mixing the bite of Madman Across the Water with the pop-rock snap of Honky Chateau, particularly on the Beatles-tinged rocker "I Want Love." Elton bats around a variety of styles here, connecting solidly on the rootsy "The Emperor's New Clothes" and the New Orleans-styled "The Wasteland," on which he spars with fellow keyboardist Billy Preston. There's a somber tone to many of the album's songs, notably "American Triangle," which candidly dissects Matthew Shepard's homophobic murder, and "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes," a regretful retrospective from the point of view of a man suffering from AIDS. Even when the going gets tough, however, Elton refuses to get maudlin -- which, given the tenor of his recent projects, is cause for celebration. Clearly, not every pop icon can go home again. But it's great to hear that Elton, for one, still has the keys to his old pop Pleasuredome.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Throughout his songs for The Road to El Dorado, Elton John hinted at his classic sound of the early '70s, but it's still a refreshing surprise to find him largely returning to that sound on his 2001 album, Songs From the West Coast. It was easy to think that John wasn't interested in writing like this anymore, given not just his continued success, but the ease with which he was crafting pleasant adult contemporary records. There are still elements of that on Songs From the West Coast -- a few of the ballads are a little too even-handed, and since this is a modern recording, it lacks the resonant warmth of such classics as Honky Chateau and Tumbleweed Connection. Still, this is the richest, best record he's released in a long time, an album where it feels like a hit single is secondary to the sheer pleasure of craft, whether it's crafting a song or an album. And this is an album that flows easily and naturally, setting the mood with the story sketch "The Emperor's New Clothes" and then heading in a number of scenic directions. Of these, "American Triangle," his elegy for Matthew Shepard, will likely receive the most attention, but the most interesting are songs like the bluesy "The Wasteland," "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes," which recalls the Tumbleweed epics, the neo-Captain Fantastic tune "Dark Diamond," the soulful closer "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore," and "Birds," a terrific, spare, rolling country-rocker. His songwriting hasn't been this diverse or consistent since the early '80s, and he hasn't made a record better than this in years. No, Songs From the West Coast won't make you forget Tumbleweed Connection, but it often recalls those peaks, which, frankly, is enough.
Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
John can't always send his music soaring the way it used to, but its spirit and ambition have finally come back.
Blender - John Aizlewood
John has rediscovered his muse.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2001
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0731458633020
catalogNumber:
586330

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Songs From The West Coast 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Upon hearing the opening notes of ''I Want Love'' I knew that something special was happening with Elton John. Yes I had heard all of the hype that always surrounds the release of any major artist's new album. The stories that Elton was going to record this album the way he used to back in the 70s. The fact that Nigel Olsson was back on drums. I read how Patrick Leonard had said he knew how to make an Elton John record. Davey Johnstone trumpeting how great the songs were on this album. This happens with every new release, Elton is no exception. Well Elton fans I am here to tell you that this one time it is all true. ''Songs From The West Coast'' is THE best album Elton has recorded since 1976's ''Blue Moves.'' If you have longed for the ''Madman Across The Water'' or ''Honky Chateau'' days then ''The Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes'' will take you back with Paul Buckmaster's strings leading the way. ''Birds'' remembers the ''Tumbleweed Connection'' era as if it were yesterday, a country-ish rollicking tune. Elton pays tribute in a unintentional way to the Beatles with ''I Want Love'' whose George Harrison-ish guitars and Ringo-like drums will bring a huge smile to your face. This album is heavy on the classic Elton sound, ''American Triangle'' fits this category. The song about the murder of Matthew Shepard features a haunting background vocal from Rufus Wainwright and is one of Elton's most powerful ballads ever. Bernie Taupin's lyrics have never been better. On the album closer, ''This Train Don't Stop There Anymore,'' Bernie laments over hearbreak and getting older as only Bernie can do. And to those people that say Elton doesn't rock anymore, once you listen to ''The Wasteland'' that should put an end to that tired old argument. Even classic rock radio has picked up on this track. Elton enlists some old friends, on ''Dark Diamond'' Stevie Wonder provides harmonica, Billy Preston also makes an appearance. Nigel Olsson is back on drums joining long-time band member guitarist Davey Johnstone, both providing those familiar sounding background vocals that always added so much to Elton's 70s work. Patrick Leonard's production is top notch, staying away from the all too familiar ''wall-of-sound'' that has plagued too much of Elton's late 80s and 90s work. The piano/guitars/drums are allowed to shine, as well as Elton's vocals which are more upfront then on past albums. I could go on about each track but what's the point? There is no filler on this album. Every track is a winner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I ran to the store with twelve year old excitement for this new album on the day of its US release. Make no mistake, this is Elton John at his best, reflecting the sound and flavor of his earlier work with the freshness of voice and song that has kept him number one in my music library for 30 years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Continuing to follow EJ's career since the early 70's, I was a bit leary about a ''new'' work from the EJ/Taupin duo. Those fears were soon put aside as soon as I took a listen - a good long listen to ''Songs from the West Coast''. Elton has recaptured some of the same styles we've admired in the past, and updated them with current topical lyrics. Taupin has outdone himself lyrically with ''American Triangle'', ''Wasteland'' and ''Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes''. EJ was right behind him with music reminiscent of many of Elton's moods from the past. For serious Elton admirers, this will bring back many memories and create new ones. For Elton newbies, get a taste of what the man is all about. A fabulous work - bravo Elton and Bernie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I discovered the depths of Elton's early music when I was in college about a decade ago. Ever since I have been a rabid fan of his music, both new and old, but I had been disappointed by the formulaic, lackluster direction the piano diva's music had been heading for the last five years. Whatever rut Elton had been in, he has risen to new -or rather old- heights with this release. The moment I hit ''play'' it was like discovering Tumbleweed Connection or Madman Across the Water all over again. Great lyrics, classic sound harkening back especially to Honky Chateau, yet never sounding like a pale imitation. This is easily the best studio album since Sleeping With the Past (1989), and before that Captain Fantastic (1975). Each song is a small gem, and each of them will have its fans; ''Birds'' is currently my favorite. Oddly (especially for Elton) there is not a clear ''hit single'' crafted for radio play. The first single, ''I Want Love'' didn't really work for me until I heard it in the context of the album. I'm happy to say I axiously await Elton's next album, something I never thought I'd feel again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wanna talk about comebacks, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, what about Elton John. This is an excellent cd because he has an excellent voice for a homosexual.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm from the 80's so started liking Elton with Blue Moves and Too Low For Zero - I have not missed a release yet - even the fluffy ones he himself doesn't like. I love them all - and with the first listen of ''I Want Love'', I knew ''Songs From The West Coast'' was truly a jewel. Elton John has gotten better with age. Couldn't wait for this release.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elton, Elton, Elton. Have you been hiding this from us? Is it the new producer, Patrick Leonard? Whatever it is, it should be recognized that this is clearly Elton John's finest album since...The Road to ElDorado? That's right. The Road To ElDorado soundtrack hinted at what was to come on Ej's latest offering. Maybe it is Patrick Leonard. Maybe it is Elton reinventing himself after all those solo concerts where he was forced to carry the entire show with only voice and piano. Maybe it's Nigel Olsson, whose background vocals and drumming style is unmistakable. Whatever it is, Elton, make no mistake, we love it and we want more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elton John never fails to move our emotions in such a riveting way. Just to listen to his voice and outstanding piano playing touch all the right nerves at all the write times. This new album is an excellent return to the spotlight, but I am still drawn more to the raw, Too Low For Zero and Captain Fantastic albums. I have written a tribute to Elton in my book, Amber Spirit, due out Halloween, based on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road song, Roy Rogers. The surprise for me is that even when he falls from grace, after the 70's 5 year chart-topping run, to the The Big Picture and onward to the new album, he brings so much of himself to the music and makes you overlook the little drops and flaws better than any artist outside of Lennon/McCartney. Truely an artist forever etched in my mind and I'm already wanting more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was a kid, everyone I knew gravitated to a singer. Some chose Billy Joel, some Rod Stewart, a few Boy George. I chose Elton John, and even I am AMAZED at the joy he continues to give me. I picked a WINNER! The others have pretty much come and gone, but Elton is still here, and he always will be. Not that I almost didn't desert him a couple of times. I wasn't fond of Breaking Hearts, and Leather Jackets was TERRIBLE. But somehow, he always came back and that's why I'm astounded once again at this album. I heard the notices saying it was his best album since the seventies- and I think he said that as well, and it kinda made me mad because I thought it was demeaning some of the music I thought was brilliant. Reg Strikes Back and Sleeping With the Past is just as good as anything Elton ever did. Then, he sort of slid again, though. ''The One'' was half-great but the other half wasn't so hot- he was getting sloppy again- and he slopped out ''Duets''- terrible, then that awful ''History'' song he put on a greatest hits album. I thought- ''Oh, no!'' But ''Made in England'' is a GREAT album. When I was listening to ''Belfast,'' one of his really great ballads- I thought to myself- ''He should quit all that synthesizer stuff and phoney drum beats and just concentrate on making songs just like this one.'' But who is going to tell Elton John that? Then, he came out with ''The Big Picture.'' AWFUL!!! TERRIBLE!! Why sleepwalk through these albums? And I'm happy to say this is a wonderful, great album- His ''Road to El Dorado'' was wonderful, too, though no one seemed to notice. Part of the good reason for this is Taupin, who wrote the worst lyrics for ''The Big Picture.'' They were terrible cliche's- Taupin made me a little angry because I thought if he can't do better than this, he should give it up- plus- Elton's bad music didn't help much, either. Both are in great form- Thank you, Taupin, for realizing your great talent and doing something with it again. The more I hear this album, the more I LOVE IT! THANK YOU- THANK YOU- THANK YOU- Now, did I pick a winner or not?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very simple ... this CD is an absolute masterpiece. The Ballad of the Boy in the Rds Shoes is his best song in many years. Brilliant all the way through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this cd from the 1st listen! I became an Elton fan back in the days of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This cd takes me back to my youth & reminds me of the Empty Sky album & Captain Fantastic. I'm so thrilled to hear Elton's classic sound which means the return of Bernie Taupin, Nigel Olsson & Davey Johnstone!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hey has anyone seen that video with Robert Downey Jr.? Elton John has done it again!!! Love the CD, Songs from the west coast will surely do great on the charts. If you are an Elton John fan and appreciate his music, you will definitely love this one!!! a MUST HAVE!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is awsome... Elton if the true King Of the Music world... Great comeback CD (makes you say ''Michael Jackson WHO??). As always great job on the songs. New, original songs in his classical style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So much hype has been written about this new disc, that (being a fan) I had to buy it to see for myself. I can honestly say this is the Elton of the seventies that we all fell in love with. The John/Taupin partnership has delivered their best work in years on ''Songs from the West Coast''. The band, the vocals & the lush orchestration of Paul Buckmaster completes this incredible twelve track package. Bernie & Elton have always been able to weave wonderful messages into their songs & it shows so poignantly in songs like ''American Triangle'' & ''Ballad of the Boy in Red Shoes''. The Beatlesque ''I Want Love''(''Free as a Bird'' comes to mind) is filled with yearning & heart-felt emotion. Congratulations Elton, Bernie & company ... this one is a winner!
Guest More than 1 year ago
''Old'' EJ fans will love this CD (as will others). You'll hear strings that remind you of ''Madman,'' vocals that remind you of ''Sweet Painted Lady,'' and sounds reminiscent of the ''Captain Fantastic'' album. This is one superb CD. Absolutely superb.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always loved Elton, but I was a little bored with his past few albums. But let me tell ya, this is it! This is the older, wiser Elton and Bernie with the same classic sound from the Tumbleweed Connection and Madman days. Awesome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
simply the ultimate master of music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elton John never fails to come out with new and innovated music, yet maintains his same style and essence that has made him one of the most impacting artists of all time. His voice and piano-playing skills never seem to amaze me and get better only with age. ¡§Songs from the West Coast¡¨ is a yell from Elton that screams ¡§I¡¦m back everyone!¡¨. In this superb return to the spotlight, Elton tells us that though he has been gone, he has been working on great material. It is no wonder that this man has had 35 gold records under his belt during his career. Throughout his musical impact, he has brought so much to life, music, and himself. ¡§I Want Love¡¨ is a great portrayal of emotional peace that Elton finally consumes and ¡§This Train Don¡¦t Stop Here Anymore¡¨ greatly takes us back to sounds of the old Elton that we all know and love. This album, plus all his others, is definitely worth picking up and adding to your collection!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan since childhood - even during the lean years. As you've probably heard, this album marks a distinct return to the sound that made E.J. famous. It is right up there with the great hits from the 70's. Listen to ''Original Sin,'' it is the most beautifully haunting song ever recorded. I only hope that it is released as a single!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree about "Original Sin" being one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Although my 14-year-old perspective still doesn't get what the song is really about, it's still one of my favorite songs ever and, IMO, often overlooked! Anyway, it's great. (the whole cd, not just the one song)
Guest More than 1 year ago
ELTON AND BERNIE TAUPINS "SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST" FITS IN NICELY WITH WITH "TUMBLEWEED" AND "MADMAN" AS BOOKENDS.ALTHOUGH THIS IS NOT A BLATANT ATTEMPT TO RECAPTURE AN EARLIER SOUND,ITS THIS RECORDINGS BARE SIMPLICITY THAT ALLOWS THESE SONGS TO BE COMPARED TO THOSE OF HIS EARLY WORK.AS A FAN OF HIS SINCE 1974 (AGE 12)I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO MOVED BY A SONG AS I AM BY "BALLAD OF THE BOY IN THE RED SHOES"THE MUSIC AND STRINGS WILL MAKE THE HAIR ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK STAND UP AS BERNIE'S LYRICS ARE SUNG BY ELTON."BIRDS" IS "HONKY CAT'S" COUSIN,LENNON IS CHANNELED IN "I WANT LOVE" AND "MANSFIELD" IS AS POWERFUL AS "MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER".30 YEARS LATER-ELTON JOHN IS STILL STANDING !!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
American Triangle is one of the best songs ever!!!!!! It makes me cry!!! It is his most emotional and intense album to date!!!!