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The Union

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Audio CD, October 19, 2010
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Product Description

2010 collaboration between Rock legends Elton John and Leon Russell. Produced by Oscar and multiple-Grammy award winning producer T-Bone Burnett, The Union was recorded live in the studio with Elton and Leon on dueling pianos. The album features a variety of musical genres from R & B, Soul, Gospel, Country, Pop and Rock. The album includes selections written by Elton and his lifelong lyricist Bernie Taupin, as well as the combined incomparable songwriting team encompassing Leon, Elton, Bernie and T Bone.

About the Artist

(NEW YORK, NY) July 6, 2010 - Decca Records is pleased to announce the release of the highly anticipated collaboration between two musical legends, Elton John and Leon Russell with The Union available October 19 in the U.S. (To be released October 25 in the U.K. on Mercury Records.) This album marks the first time these iconic artists have worked together since 1970.

Produced by Oscar and multiple-Grammy winning producer T Bone Burnett, who took home numerous awards in 2009 for his production work on Raising Sand with Robert Plant and Alison Krause, The Union features songs written by John and his lifelong lyricist Bernie Taupin, as well as in combination with the extraordinary talents of Russell and Burnett.

Recorded live in the studio with John and Russell on dueling pianos, the album features a variety of musical genres from R&B, soul, gospel, country, pop and rock. Icons Neil Young and Brian Wilson provide guest vocals on the 16-track record along with legendary R&B organist Booker T. Jones, steel guitarist Robert Randolph and a 10-piece gospel choir.

Russell first met John in 1970 when he attended John's first ever U.S. show at the famous Troubadour in Los Angeles. The meeting heralded the beginning of a long friendship and a mutual appreciation between the two artists. "In the late '60s and early `70s, the one piano player and vocalist who influenced me more than anybody else was Leon Russell," John said. "He was my idol." The pair went on to tour together shortly thereafter at New York's Fillmore East and to this day have held such high admiration for each other's work.

After years of being out of touch, John listened to Russell's music while on safari in Africa last summer and was inspired to reconnect with his idol. "Elton called to ask if I would do a duet album with him,'" Russell said. "I'm very happy that he chose me to do this."

The monumental career of international singer/songwriter and performer Elton John has spanned more than three decades. He is the one of the top-selling solo artists of all time with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums and more than 250 million records sold worldwide. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has awarded John multiple Grammys, including the Grammy Legend Award.

Russell has performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues and country music for over 50 years. This legendary and Grammy award winning musician and songwriter has topped music charts, led the famous Joe Cocker's `Mad Dogs & Englishmen' tour, performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert for Bangladesh and in 2006 was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Bare Bones International Film Festival.

The Union is a unique collaboration of two of the most talented artists in the music business. Combining forces and fusing diverse talents, John and Russell along with Burnett have produced an extraordinary album.

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Digital Booklet: The Union
Digital Booklet: The Union
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 19, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B003TWP5JC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (396 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,725 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

199 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Rudy Palma on October 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD
As he mentions in the liner notes - and on the 6-minute bonus DVD that accompanies the deluxe edition - "The Union" is Elton John's acknowledgement of Leon Russell's profound influence on his skill set as a pianist and vocal interpreter.

And what an acknowledgement it is. Elton collaborates warmly and enthusiastically with Russell (producer T-Bone Burnett accommodates this well), sharing equal disc space. This is a definite joint effort - one that set outs to recapture both the decades lost between these two irreplaceable musicians and that early 70s sound listeners associate with both of them. Happily, it succeeds.

"Gone to Shiloh," a southern-fried ballad fraught with pain and longing (many of the songs here are - this is a mostly downbeat record), would sound at home, for instance, on Russell's classic-self-titled record and Elton's indestructible "Tumbleweed Connection." Neil Young contributes a verse.

The same goes for "Jimmie Rodgers' Dream," the chugging "Monkey Suit" and "Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes," an elegant, classy tribute to Russell from Elton. To the attentive ear their melodies may suggest preceding work from Elton from the past decade or so - inevitable in a long, prolific career - but the results are so strong that it is a non-issue.

Elton has not sounded this animated since 2001's "Songs from the West Coast." His lively vocals on "Hey Ahab" and assistance on Russell's gospel-fused "Hearts Have Turned to Stone" are evidence enough. The latter is razor-sharp and absolutely harrowing in its commentary on the frigidity of contemporary life.

Russell is indeed in his absolute element. His "If It Wasn't For Bad" is the lead single and opening track, and its haunting, hurts-so-good ruminations on unhappy love are instantly catchy.
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86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Herb Decordova on October 24, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I pre-ordered this selection, I needed to decide between the CD only or the CD/DVD set. After giving it some thought, factoring-in that Cameron Crowe directed the DVD, and that I hoped it would add to the overall experience, I opted for the set. What a buzz-kill. The DVD is all of 6 minutes (okay...maybe it's 10 minutes) long. That's it! You hit the >>>PLAY button and see/listen to Elton speak about how he loves Leon and Leon was one of his earliest influences and that he's pissed-off that "people" seem to have forgotten Leon, and that while travelling on an African Safari (with David) he contacts Leon and T-Bone and runs the idea past everyone and they're all on- board and they go to the studio, and hug and we see them play together for about 53 seconds and the DVD ends. What the....?

The CD is awesome. Great collection of original songs...most written by Elton and Bernie Taupin with selections/contributions and collaborations with and from Leon and T Bone. The CD booklet is also excellent. Great to read, great photos and great tributes. You can tell the entire project was a labour of love...all the way around. I just wish the DVD was an hour longer...and, with a project of this depth and feeling, it should have been.

P.S. The "Live from The Beacon Theatre" concert was excellent. I did hope that, at minimum, Joe Cocker would have joined-in for a rousing Delta Lady....but, no such luck : (
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Rosenthal on October 30, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let's get one thing straight. The Union is not a "comeback" album, a "swan song," a last gasp, or a crass commercial exercise. It's not a misguided effort at authenticity, or only 50% good (based on who you're a fan of), or too ballad-heavy, or not piano-driven enough. It is what it is, and what it is, is a joyous collaboration between two giants of popular music, one who faded from the limelight but never lost his inspiration, and one who's been in the limelight almost continuously for 40 years and, likewise, has not lost his inspiration.

How can you not love the premise behind The Union? What a great reason to make an album - to return a musical idol to public attention and appreciation, as well as financial solvency. And true to form, Elton didn't try to dictate how the songwriting or the recording should turn out. He didn't try to make Leon into something he isn't. But dictating a creative outcome also would have been against Elton's natural inclination to defer to the talent of others, to afford colleagues free rein to do what they do best. Were Elton so inclined to be a meddler, though, it would have been a curious exercise given the influence Leon has had on Elton's melodic and pianistic styles. (Reflecting on the halcyon days of 1970-72, one realizes how much of Leon's down-home, funky vocal phrasings Elton adapted to his own creative sensibilities. Elton's singing on "Can I Put You On?," "The Cage," and even "Honky Cat" are tips of the hat to Leon's inspiration.)

This project, then, works so well one is tempted to think that Leon might have written Elton's songs and Elton Leon's songs, although the first track, "If it wasn't for Bad," would have been one of the quirkier efforts Elton has ever pulled off. (Yet he's been known to be quirky.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Catherine, the Music Junkie on October 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leon's back and it's great to hear some new material. I've been excitedly waiting for the release of this cd for a couple of months and it did not disappoint.

I hear a lot of the old Leon (Delta Lady, Queen of the Roller Derby, Stranger in a Strange Land) and my most favorite Elton album ever (Tumbleweed Connection) in this Union. It brings back great memories. Someone said they should have cut this disc 20 years ago and I agree although, perhaps, it's the collective experience that takes it back to those simpler times and tones and gives this disc everything we are loving about it: simple techniques, great lyrics, and 2 amazing voices.
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the union....welcome back to real music!
This album is an absolute peach! I've not had so much pleasure listening to an album since Captain Fantatic, and after so many years i really didn't think Elton would reach such a peak again. Leon Russell must take a lot of the credit and hats off to T Bone Burnett's production too. It fits... Read More
Oct 13, 2010 by Kenji |  See all 3 posts
First listen
Yeah, I heard most of the songs on NPR's site, too. You got it right. It's "sadly wonderful and soulful." It's also rockin', like the blues rock song Hey Ahab. It's such a brilliant album, leaps and bounds better than Songs From the West Coast (which I loved). I'm so glad that Elton and... Read More
Oct 13, 2010 by Alan W. |  See all 2 posts
elton john /leon russell
I strongly agree. I'm greatly looking forward to The Union. Also, the songs "I Should Have Sent Roses," "Hey Ahab," and "Gone to Shiloh" sound astonishing as well. It's a different style that Elton has pursued this time. It's fresh, innovative, and just plain catchy.... Read More
Sep 22, 2010 by Alan W. |  See all 26 posts
Reason for hope?
Get out of his latest funk? Did you even listen to The Captain & the Kid? Songs From the West Coast had no clunkers. Peachtree Road was excellent as well, with great songs like "Turn the Lights Out When You Leave" and "They Call Her the Cat." The Captain & The Kid was... Read More
Sep 15, 2010 by Alan W. |  See all 12 posts
The Union- ***** musical marriage made in heaven Be the first to reply
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