The Elton John CD Review

Sleeping With The Past (1989)


1.Durban Deep
2.Healing Hands
3.Whispers
4.Club at the End of the Street
5.Sleeping with the Past
6.Stones Throw From Hurtin'
7.Sacrifice
8.I Never Knew Her Name
9.Amazes Me
10.Blue Avenue

 

Elton ended the whirlwind decade of the eighties on a very positive note. This is his best release in years. Perhaps the reason is not only are the songs of very high caliber, but the flow of the music seems to coexist better than, dare I say, anything he's ever done. In the liner notes, Elton and Bernie state that these songs were inspired by "the Soul Pioneers of the Sixties and Seventies". Pretty serious stuff considering some of Elton's best work has found favor with the Soul Music community (Both Bennie and the Jets and Philadelphia Freedom were big hits on the Soul Charts). There's a positive blend of these influences along with Elton's strong musical identity that make this one work so well.


The first single Healing Hands has beautiful Gospel influences that has us believing there's a full choir present whereas Amazes Me resonates the same strong sound. The album doesn't miss a beat with the title track or its similar predecessor Club at the End of the Street, filled with a sharp wailing saxophone making the pieces pure pop magic. Perhaps the biggest gem is the ballad Sacrifice, a number one single in England that is perhaps his most touching piece lyrically and musically since Your Song twenty years earlier. I Never Knew Her Name reminds the listener a lot of Kiss The Bride from Too Low For Zero with just enough differences to make it enjoyable. He reaches deeper into his soul to pull out the almost falsetto Stones Throw From Hurtin and the heavy rhythmic Durban Deep and Whispers. The album closes with Blue Avenue that seems a gentle retrospect to all the above pieces, picking the best parts to remind the listener how special this release is.


Musicians this time around are Davey Johnstone, Romeo Williams, Jonathan Moffett, Guy Babylon and Fred Mandel. Some new faces as well as old, but a common blend on all the songs. Perhaps it was intentional for the harmony between musicians to transfer onto the disc. If so, it worked.


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