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First, one has to get past the cover photo of these two senior citizen ’70s rockers leaning back on their pianos to appreciate the original, entertaining music within. Leon Russell, looking like a fugitive from ZZ Top, is best known for his rock ballad “A Song for You,” which became a signature hit for the Carpenters in 1972 and has been covered by anyone who ever got in front of a microphone.

This album is a back-to-the-future merger of John's and Russell's ’60s and ’70s musical roots, with new songs co-penned by lyricist Bernie Taupin and arrangements produced by hit-maker T-Bone Burnett.

John, the driving force behind this album, is a believer in Russell's almost-forgotten talent and sings about him in “Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes”: “Your songs have all the hooks/ your seven wonders rolled into one.” If you remember early John like “Honkey Chateau,” then you'll love his blast from the past “Monkey Suit,” one of my favorite new tunes.

The collection’s got country, pop, rock, and soul, featuring guest backups by Neil Young, Brian Wilson, and Booker T. The standout tracks are “I Should Have Sent Roses,” “A Dream Come True,” and “Hey Ahab.” Two pop-music icons revive a dying business, if only for a brief moment, with this original yet familiar-sounding album.

  • Album: The Union (2010)
  • Artist: Elton John and Leon Russell
  • Label: Decca
  • Songs: (1) If It Wasn't for Bad (2) Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes (3) Hey Ahab (4) Gone to Shiloh (5) Jimmie Rodger's Dream (6) There's No Tomorrow (7) Monkey Suit (8) The Best Part of the Day (9) A Dream Come True (10) When Love Is Dying (11) I Should Have Sent Roses (12) Hearts Have Turned to Stone (13) Never Too Old (14) In the Hands of Angels
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