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The Captain & the Kid

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
It's been more than three decades since Elton John released Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, but he taps into the album's essential spirit so easily on this de facto sequel that you'd swear he somehow found the keys to pop's ultimate wayback machine. Sir Elton has stated that The Captain & the Kid -- much like Captain Fantastic -- is awash in autobiography, a fact that's evident in songs like the wistful "Old 67" and the genially bitchy "Tinderbox," both of which deal fairly directly with the complex relationship the singer has with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Taupin, the man responsible for most of the more enduring nuggets from the Elton catalog, is in ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
It's been more than three decades since Elton John released Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, but he taps into the album's essential spirit so easily on this de facto sequel that you'd swear he somehow found the keys to pop's ultimate wayback machine. Sir Elton has stated that The Captain & the Kid -- much like Captain Fantastic -- is awash in autobiography, a fact that's evident in songs like the wistful "Old 67" and the genially bitchy "Tinderbox," both of which deal fairly directly with the complex relationship the singer has with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Taupin, the man responsible for most of the more enduring nuggets from the Elton catalog, is in fine form here, capturing the excess of '73-vintage rock stardom in crisp, surreal couplets on "And the House Fell Down" and keeping sentiment at arm's length while delivering the dark eulogies of "Blues Never Fade Away." It's Elton himself, however, who ends up stealing the show, not so much with his voice -- which has grown craggier with the passage of time -- but with simple, impassioned piano lines that lend songs like "Postcards from Richard Nixon" an edgy beauty. More "Levon" than "Lestat," The Captain & the Kid makes it possible to believe that you can, in fact, go home again. [The B&N Exclusive version of The Captain & the Kid is housed in a gatefold sleeve with two additional booklets, one containing full lyrics and the other, entitled Scraps, featuring photos of Sir Elton, then and now.]
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ever since 2001's Songs from the West Coast, Elton John and his longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin, have been deliberately and unapologetically chasing their glory days of the early '70s, but nowhere have they been as candid in evoking those memories as they are on 2006's The Captain & the Kid, the explicitly stated sequel to 1975's masterpiece Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. That record was an autobiographical fantasia of John and Taupin's early years -- the days when they were struggling to make their mark, right up till their glorious success -- and the idea behind this album is to tell the story of those salad days, which not only isn't a bad idea at all -- it's clever and well-suited for John, the most self-consciously unautobiographical of all major rock artists -- but fits right into Elton's desire to make records like he used to; after all, if he's trying to sound like the way things used to be, he might as well sing about the way they used to be, too. And The Captain & the Kid is nothing if not a proudly nostalgic piece of work bearing no modern touches; even the synths that occasionally color this country-ish rock are old fashioned analog synths. It sounds like an dream project on paper, but like a lot of dream projects, The Captain & the Kid doesn't quite live up to its lofty ideals. Part of the problem is that John has patterned the music not after Captain Fantastic -- which lived up to its glamorama title through intense flights of camp and glitz that helped give its narrative a theatrical flair, not to mention a hell of a lot of color -- but after the stripped-down, country-tinged pop and rock of Tumbleweed Connection and Honky Chateau. That is the sound at the core of most of his best music of the early '70s, but it's not necessarily the best choice for this album, since it doesn't quite fit with the original Captain Fantastic or the gaudy story of their success; it's a tale that calls for bright neon colors, and everything about this album is muted and tasteful. It might not quite seem like what a Fantastic sequel should be -- in fact, it seems more like a sequel to its direct predecessor, 2004's Peachtree Road -- but that's hardly a bad thing. Like that album and Songs from the West Coast before it, The Captain & the Kid is a sharp, professional piece of work by sharp professionals conscious of their past and no longer wishing to rest on their laurels, so they're consciously evoking their best work without quite recycling it. They might not hit their mark directly, but they get close enough -- it may be a little self-conscious and the production is a shade too clean, but the performances are warm and intimate, so this music feels right even if it doesn't necessarily feel exactly like Elton's '70s heyday. And the more familiar this song cycle becomes, the easier it is to admire the craft behind it, particularly in individual moments like the slow build on "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way NYC," or how "Tinderbox" hearkens back to "Somebody Saved My Life Tonight," or the lightness of "I Must Have Lost It on the Wind," or the lazy blues of "Old 67," or how "The Captain and the Kid" brings to mind not Tumbleweed Connection but Billy Joel's approximation of that album on Piano Man. So, no, The Captain & the Kid isn't quite the second coming of Captain Fantastic, but it's hardly a cash grab by an aging diva -- in other words, it's no Basic Instinct 2. John's intentions are pure and even if he doesn't quite make an album as good as his '70s work, it does stand alongside that work nicely -- it's clear that he and Taupin are really trying, and it's far better to have albums like this and Peachtree Road that fall short of the mark but nevertheless get close than to have an endless series of well-produced but empty records like The One and Made in England.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/19/2006
  • Label: Interscope Records
  • UPC: 602517064225
  • Catalog Number: 000754502
  • Sales rank: 7,513

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Elton John Primary Artist, Piano, Vocals
Davey Johnstone Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Background Vocals, Musical Direction
Guy Babylon Keyboards
Bob Birch Bass, Background Vocals
John Mahon Percussion, Background Vocals
Nigel Olsson Drums, Background Vocals
Matt Still Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Elton John Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Guy Babylon Arranger
David Costa Art Direction
Bob Ludwig Mastering
Bernie Taupin Composer
Keith Bradley Management
Matt Still Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Merck Mercuriadis Management
Chris Sobchack Drum Technician
Adrian Collee Studio Coordinator
Bob Halley Director
Ryan McGinley Cover Photo
Nadine Levy Contributor
Frank Presland Management
Emil Dacanay Contributor
John Antenucci Management
Lucy Lawler Administration
Sian Rance Contributor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This Album is Awesome!

    I am an long time Elton fan. The first time I heard it I thought it was kind of ok. Once I sat and listened to it again and read the lyrics, WOW! I am listening to it over & over. I absolutely love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Sir Elton's back!!!

    First: This is one of the best produced albums of EJ's career. Especially in recent years, seldomly has Elton soundend fresher and younger! Second: Some really good songs: Wouldn't have it any other way (the NYC song), and many others (Tinderbox!). A must have for fans, and still a great CD for the car or elsewhere for anybody else. PS: This CD needs several listens. Do not put it away after one time! The songs grow on you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Elton is Fantastic

    Elton John truly is Captain Fantastic. Not only has Elton become his alter ego since 1975's "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy", but he still creates relevant music after nearly 40 years in the business. While it's hard to compare a current work to one from 30 years ago because of the changes in technology and even Elton's distinctive voice, when you listen to "The Captain and the Kid" you realize that Elton has found the muse that inspired some of his most classic songs. The album opens with "Postcards From Richard Nixon" and you realize this is not formula music. This is something special. The stories are genuine and heartfelt, fun and wistful. And after you soak in the final chords of "The Captain and the Kid" you've been on a long, wonderful journey that only Elton John and Bernie Taupin could've lived. It is spellbinding, glorious, sad, and content all at the same time. If you were a fan of Elton's music in the 70's and have been waiting for his return to the classic Elton John sound, this is it. All hail Sir Elton John.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Full Circle!

    Sequels in any genre are always risky as they will inevitably be compared to the original work which inspired them. Nowhere is this more evident than on The Captain & the Kid, the new Elton John album and the "sequel" to his 1975 classic, Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy. In order to apprecaite this record you must listen to it on its own terms because it deserves such a listen. Whether or not this record is as good as Captain Fantastic, it is still one of Elton John's best albums and shows that he can still make vital music after all these years. Bernie Taupin's lyrics especially shine on this record which chronicles his and John's impressions of the US after their first tour of the States in 1970. "Postcards from Richard Nixon" captures the disillusionment felt by the younger generation at the time, particularly by those visiting the country during that era. "Just Like Noah's Ark" and "Tinderbox" continue that sentiment and underscore the importance of friendship when it feels like its just you and someone else against the world. This album ripples with nostalgia, but not in a saccharine sentimental way. Rather, the mood of this record is what one would expect from two middle aged men reflecting on a significant turning point in their lives. "The Bridge" is the best song on this record as it illustrates the maturity and perspective that time can bring to one's remembrance of any given situation. The closing track, "The Captain & the Kid" brings the story begun over thirty years ago full circle. Avoiding the metaphors and cryptic lyrics which comprised "Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy" from Captain Fantastic, John and Taupin speak openly about their friendship and their affection both for one another and their career. If Elton John would retire after this record, a claim he has made after the release of his last two albums, I cannot think of a better coda to his career.

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