Review: Elton, Bernie & James Build A Garden

[February 28, 2011] Gnomeo & Juliet just came off a hot weekend at the box office as the number one grossing movie in both North America and the UK.

But for those of us here at The 22nd Row, it’s also the recordings that are of extra special note.

I just had my first listen to the soundtrack of Gnomeo & Juliet.

Now for sure, there’s Elton’s classic catalog framed in the new setting of a CGI family movie.  These include Your Song, Bennie and the Jets, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, and, of course, Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) which plays a very key part in the film.  It’s all very charming, good stuff and a very delightful way to introduce Elton to — who!?!? — a fifth generation of Elton-and-Bernie fans!?  Oh my!

But then there are the two new songs written by John/Taupin and performed by Elton — Hello Hello and Love Builds a Garden.  Two very nice songs with Love Builds a Garden being my favorite.  The latter has a bit of a lyrical edge to it when you really think about the song’s meaning.

But then there’s another surprise. Nelly Furtado joing Elton for a new version of Crocodile Rock that really brings it into the pop sounds of 2011.  While it doesn’t surpass the original, this electric, sugar-high version is as intriguing as its opposite — when Elton performed “Croc Rock” as a ballad such as during the mid-90s tour with Ray Cooper.  Fun stuff and also a great way to get new insight int a song that we’ve known for 39 years.

Although lower key from the perspective of us Elton fans,  of special interest are the  segues, allusions and variations on Elton’s music found in the James Newton Howard instrumentals Gnomeo & Juliet, Dandelions, Bennie and the Bunnies, Terrafirminator.  I know some fans find satisfaction and insight in instrumental cover versions of Elton’s music — such fans will find these especially satisfying and insightful.  Given Elton, David and Bernie’s involvement, these interpretations are clearly endorsed by our songwriting heroes.

The album closes with The Tiki, Tiki Room, a fun finale credited to Wally Bong, Thurl Ravenscroft, Fulton Burley, The Mellomen.

So where does this fit on your purchase list of Elton recordings?  In a nutshell, if you haven’t yet purchased The Union, DO get that first; however, even if you are a moderate completist in terms of your Elton John music library, you will want to get this one.  I’d say it is about as satisfying as — or even a little more satisfying than — when we Elton-and-Bernie fans purchased the 1996 version of  Love Songs featuring You Can Make History Young Again and No More Valentines.

About Jim McKay

Jim has sat in the "The 22nd Row" since June 23, 1992, as an experiment in the University of Illinois' Hypermedia Lab.
This entry was posted in Album Discussions, Bernie Taupin, Feature Films, Gnomeo & Juliet, Gnomeo & Juliet, Love Songs (1996), The Union, Uncategorized, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

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