Monday, September 22, 2008
There are a handful of artists whose musical output has taken such a dramatic shift in the quality department, that it is hard to remember why we ever liked these people in the first place. The two that immediately come to mind are Elton John & Rod Stewart. Between 1970 and 1975, Elton & Rod were responsible for what is arguably some of the greatest albums ever made.
Madman Across The Water, Tumbleweed Connection, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic from EJ.
The Rod Stewart Album, Gasoline Alley, Never A Dull Moment, Every Picture Tells Story, and 4 of my favorite rock and roll albums of all time, the Faces' First Step, A Nod Is As Good As A Wink, Long Player, and Ooh La La from Rod.
Since then, these two megastars have released what is arguably some of the worst records in the history of music.
A Single Man, The Fox, Ice On Fire, Reg Strikes Back, Leather Jackets, Sleeping With The Past, Made In England and The Big Picture for Elton. That's just the 80s and 90s and it's not even a complete list. Try listening to any one of these records. The songwriting is insipid, and Elton's voice sounds just slightly more musical than Wilford Brimley's.
Rod spat out Body Wishes, Vagabond Heart, Spanner In The Works, When We Were The New Boys, Human, and the most offensive quartet of music ever put to tape, Stewart's four volume tribute to "The Great American Songbook."
What is interesting is that neither Elton or Rod suffered by releasing this musical ipecac. On the contrary, their careers exploded. They are as popular as ever. The transition from rock icons to pandering lounge acts wasn't overnight. Elton and Rod tried, albeit not very hard, to maintain their status as rock royalty. Too bad the material says otherwise.
On a similar note, tomorrow sees the release of four expanded reissues of The Replacements' Sire Records catalogue. I spent the weekend listening to these classic records. For a long time, I could not listen to a note of The Replacements thanks to Paul Westerberg's painfully lazy solo output. Talk about "poisoning the well!" But cranking up "Tim," made me forget such dreck as "Suicaine Gratifaction," at least for a Sunday afternoon. More on these reissues tomorrow.
I often wonder if Rod & Elton have one great record left in them. With the right producer, we just may see another classic from both. Or is it just too late? Maybe they just don't care. It's not like they need the money. Bastards.