I’m kind of kvelling (which is Yiddish for tweeting, I think) about Elton John and Leon Russell’s album, “The Union,” set to be released on October 19th.
Sorry I can’t wait ten more days. And also, it’s a collaboration among Elton, Leon, and Bernie Taupin, the lyricist who must be given dollops of credit. This trio has fashioned a landmark album, the kind of thing we used to take for granted in the good old Seventies and even Eighties.
“The Union” is indeed a union of these remarkable talents, but not only them. The group of musicians included comprises Neil Young on a surprise vocal, Rose Stone (sister of Sly) on percussion, and a group of legendary vets like Jim Keltner, Marc Ribot, George Bohanon, Robert Randolph, and Don Was. The whole package is produced by T Bone Burnett with wit, grace, intelligence, and a true understanding of all these musicians’ artistry.
First of all, how cool is Elton John? He’s given the lead single to Leon Russell. “If It Wasn’t for Bad” just made this year’s eligibility date for the Grammys—the album comes out 19 days too late. But if the NARAS voters don’t put this in Best Song and Best Record, then the whole awards process is a waste. With no less than Booker T. Jones on B3 organ and trombones wailing away—and a tuba!—“If It Wasn’t for Bad” is real music. It’s a glorious slice of authentic Southern sweet potato pie dripping with melted English toffee.
And then “The Union” begins. There are some of the best Elton John-Bernie Taupin songs ever, like “Monkey Suit” and “When Love Is Dying” as well as an unexpected hit from Leon and Bernie, a couple of great Russell numbers, and an Elton-Leon knockout called “A Dream Come True.” Neil Young sings on “Shiloh,” which is sort of the title track. And there’s a magnificent track called “There’s No Tomorrow,” composed by Elton, Leon, T Bone Burnett and James Timothy Shaw.
Elton told me about this project last winter, and we talked about how much Leon Russell had influenced his early records like “Tumbleweed Connection” and “Honky Chateau.” Coming back to this inspiration now, Elton sounds rejuvenated. I can only hope that he gets to sing Russell’s “Tightrope” when they perform in concert, and Russell can break loose on “Honky Cat.”
By the way, neither Leon Russell nor Bernie Taupin is in that ridiculous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But Donna Summer is on this year’s list of induction nominees. So that tells you how much that group’s reputation has been diminished.
Don’t hesitate—go now to Amazon or ITunes or wherever and pre-order “The Union.” It’s the best album that will be released in 2010, and maybe 2011 as well. (Certainly including 2009 and some of those other years.)

New Album to Include Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John Collaboration


Lady Gaga’s upcoming album may also include a collaboration with Sir Elton John
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Lady Gaga’s next studio material doesn’t drop until early 2011, but hype surrounding the project keeps building up. New reports suggest that it may also include a collab with Sir Elton John.

Though to some this may sound like an odd pairing, fans must know that they first worked together for an appearance at the 2010 Grammys, in February this year.

They have remained close friends and, EW’s MusicMix has learned, chances are high they may take their relationship into the professional realm as well with a new collaboration.

“Will Elton John make an appearance on Lady Gaga‘s forthcoming album Born This Way? It seems very possible,” EW writes.

Someone from the magazine recently met with the legendary singer to talk about his upcoming album “The Union” (with Leon Russell) and he simply couldn’t stop talking about Gaga.

“I love her, and I love her ability to write. I love the songs she writes,” Elton John says. He’s also the first to put the word out there: a collaboration is a possibility right now.

As is the case with the reported collab between Christina Aguilera and DJ David Guetta, of which we informed you yesterday, time and a busy schedule are the main obstacles.

“I’d love to in the future. I’d love to do that. There’s a chance I might do one track with her [for Born This Way], but it’s just, she’s so busy, and I’m so busy, we can never get together!” the singer says.

On the bright side, even if the collaboration doesn’t come to happen, fans should be happy to learn that Elton John had already heard Gaga’s album – and it’s absolutely awesome.

Gaga herself once promised this would be a material dedicated to the gays: “Born This Way” will undoubtedly write music history, John says.

“I’ve already heard [Gaga’s new album], so I think it’s more or less done. Her record – it’s [expletive]-ing amazing. ‘Born This Way,’ which is the title song, will completely get rid of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’,” Sir Elton John says.

“This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem – it can apply to anybody,” the singer adds.

Lady Gaga and Elton John: Working together on the pop queen's new album?


Image Credit: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.comWill Elton John make an appearance on Lady Gaga‘s forthcoming album Born This Way? It seems very possible. EW recently spoke to Elton about The Union, his album collaboration with legendary pianist-songwriter Leon Russell, which hits stores Oct. 19, and the Rocket Man couldn’t help but bring up his love for all things Gaga. “I love her, and I love her ability to write,” he says. “I love the songs she writes.” A collab between the pair—who’ve become bosom buddies since performing together at January’s Grammy Awards (pictured here)—is a good possiblity. “I’d love to in the future,” John says of working with her. “I’d love to do that.” Then he elaborates: “There’s a chance I might do one track with her [for Born This Way], but it’s just, she’s so busy, and I’m so busy, we can never get together!” But, he adds, “I’ve already heard [Gaga's new album], so I think it’s more or less done. [Born This Way is expected to be released early next year.] Her record—it’s f—ing amazing. ‘Born This Way,’ which is the title song, will completely get rid of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’ This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem—it can apply to anybody.”

Yamaha's ''Union'' Offer, Contest, Sneak Peek And Interview-- Posted by editor_usa

Thursday 7 October 2010 @ 16:13 - GMT
Imagine owning a piece of musical history.

For a limited time, Yamaha is offering the opportunity to purchase a VIP package, including a C2 Conservatory Classic Collection grand piano, signed by  Elton and Leon Russell.

For each piano purchased, Yamaha will donate $5,000 to the EJAF. In addition, you will receive the ultimate VIP experience: 2 front row tickets to their November 5 U.S. concert in Ontario, California at Citizens Business Bank Arena, along with roundtrip air transportation and hotel accommodations! And as if that wasn’t enough, the purchase also allows you to receive a Meet and Greet with the legends themselves, where they will sign your piano right in front of you!

Those not in the market for an instrument can enter a sweepstakes to win two front row tickets to a U.S. performance date of choice (beginning November 3) as Elton and Leon embark on a tour promoting their first collaborative effort, The Union. The winner, who must a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age, will be selected through a random drawing that will take place on October 26. To purchase the Piano Experience or to enter to win the Concert Sweepstakes, visit yamahatheunion.com.

The aforementioned site is also where one can get a preview of Academy Award winning filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s forthcoming documentary about the making of The Union.

Incidentally, Yamaha's All Access magazine has an interview with the two keyboard icons, which appears below.

Not long ago, Elton and Leon convened in a Los Angeles recording studio with producer T-Bone Burnett, a select group of studio musicians, and a pair of Yamaha grand pianos. The result: an unprecedented collaboration between two musical giants. The album, titled The Union, features all-new material co-written by Elton, Leon, and Elton's longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin.
John and Russell hadn't previously recorded together, though they've admired each other's music for 40 years. When Elton erupted onto the music scene in the early '70s, Leon was at the apex of the rock world, scoring hits with his solo albums and serving as a high-profile sideman for such artists as Joe Cocker and George Harrison. Leon's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma, may have been a world apart from the London suburbs where Elton came of age, but the two shared many musical passions-most notably, a deep love of vintage rock-and-roll and R&B.

As Elton began his 40-year string of hits, Russell's songwriting was generating a string of classic albums, not to mention huge hits for other artists, from the Carpenters' "Superstar" to George Benson's "This Masquerade." But Russell would merit a pedestal in pop history even if he'd never written a single song: As a member of the Wrecking Crew, L.A.'s fabled A-team of studio musicians, Russell played piano on hundreds of classic tracks throughout the '60s, supporting pop vocalists (Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darrin, Wayne Newton), rock bands (the Byrds, the Beach Boys), and R&B greats (Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin).

It's almost impossible to calculate the collective musical legacy of these two men-and they're both still going strong. We recently had a chance to talk to Elton and Leon about their collaboration, and the 40 years of mutual admiration and influence that preceded it.


Elton John:We both started learning the piano when we were little boys. He played piano in a nightclub at the age of 14, and I played piano in a pub at the age of 15. We both went on the road in our late teens, and have both been out there pretty much ever since!


I can't stress enough how significant an influence Leon Russell was on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. In 1970, when we first went to America and I played the Troubadour, we were obsessed by Leon's music, and looked up to him as some kind of musical god. On the second night of the Troubadour concerts he was there in the front row, but luckily I didn't spot him until near the end of the show-otherwise I would have been a nervous wreck. After the show he invited us to his house. We were very apprehensive because we really thought he was going to tear us off a strip and show us just how the piano should be played! Needless to say he was a fabulous host, and we came away not quite believing we had spent the evening with him.


We started the album in November 2009 with the initial writing sessions in Los Angeles. Our pianos were set up to face each other. I was playing the Yamaha DC7 Disklavier, and Leon played the Yamaha Modus H01 Digital Piano. The following January we went into the studio for the recording sessions. At first we tracked together with me in the piano booth and Leon outside in the studio using the H01, and we kept eye contact through the glass. However, we weren't happy with the different piano sounds, so we changed around. I played my parts on the DC7, and then Leon went in and recorded his parts on the DC7 too. The DC7 was recorded in mono with the two tracks panned right and left to separate them. We used the MIDI capabilities of the DC7 extensively in the production and recording process.


As ever, I love the sound of the Yamaha as a pure acoustic piano. It's also great that with Yamaha technology we can use the MIDI signal to trigger other sounds.


Most of all I admire his songwriting and his piano playing, but there is so much more to Leon. Looking over the Atlantic from Britain, we read about many wonderful rock-and-roll moments. Joe Cocker on the road for the legendary 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour? Leon was in charge of the band. "Delta Lady," Joe's tribute to Rita Coolidge? Leon wrote it. Delaney & Bonnie and Friends? Leon was one of the friends. Shelter Records, the label that became a home for George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton? Leon co-founded it. Ray Charles, the Carpenters, B.B. King and George Benson recorded Leon's songs, and in 1973, at the height of his rock-star fame, he had the audacity to release a country album. Leon is a consummate musician who is still, after 50 years, at the hub of where great music is happening.


Leon Russell: I think it's great. I really appreciated Elton asking me to do it. I hadn't really talked to him in about 35 years. He called me from South Africa, I think. He was listening to some of my songs, and then called back and said something about doing a duet album. It was a treat to have T-Bone Burnett there, too. He's quite a creative guy, and I'd been really impressed with the records he's made.


Yeah. Elton opened a couple of shows for me. The first time I saw Elton sing at the Troubadour in L.A., I thought to myself, "My career's over!" He was just so fabulous. Later he told me that he saw me out there, looking like the proper rock-and-roll star, and he said he was real nervous. But boy, he's incredible, any way you cut it.

The first time I saw Elton sing, I thought to myself, 'my career's over!' He was just so fabulous. - Leon Russell


Elton shamelessly promotes me as the greatest piano player in the world. [Laughs.] I asked if he'd ever heard David Foster and Peter Nero, but I'm happy for the accolades.


It was great. We'd never written together, or even played together at the same time. But the first thing we played together actually turned into a song called "Dream Come True." It was quite fun.


Yeah. Bernie Taupin raises quarter horses, and he's an American Civil War expert. I used to be so jealous because Elton had Bernie writing those lyrics. Lyrics were so hard for me to write. Sometimes I'd sit there for months trying to get an inspiration. Meanwhile, I heard how they would bring in a stack of Bernie's lyrics to Elton, maybe fifteen or twenty. He would be in the studio with the drummer, and he'd just pick them up and sing them. If he didn't get something right away, he'd throw it away and go to the next one. Elton works very fast. I was about an hour late for our first day, and he wrote five songs while I was on the way down there. He's also quite a collector and historian. I saw a television program where he had this long room filled floor to ceiling full with CDs. I remember how he picked out five every day and listened to them all day. He's quite a student of music. It's impressive.


Well, when I first started out, I was real serious about writing songs. They all had to be real-that is, they had to be about real experiences and real people. And that's great, if you got those things to write about. But if you don't, and you need some songs, you're in trouble! [Laughs.] But then I read some books about songwriting. I don't remember the titles, but I remember one line in particular that helped me: "In every prose artist, there's a failed poet." And it kept talking about how poetry was so much more difficult to write than prose, which I'd never really thought of before. The author talked about the problem of the blank page-how when you're starting a song, it can be like trying to be the artist and the audience at the same time, which is impossible. You keep criticizing your ideas till you have a big wastebasket full of paper. I eventually learned not to criticize myself that way, and now I can write at the drop of a hat. They're not all great songs, but I can write them in much larger quantities, instead of one or two a year.


I used to think I knew which ones were good, but then I realized that I don't know. Sometimes you write something and think, "Well, that's not great," and then 65 people record it. [Laughs.] So who knows? Anyway, it's not brain surgery. It's pop music.


There are so many. I remember one Don Costa produced, for Sam Cooke, with Bobby Womack on guitar. I used to play on all Glen Campbell's records. I played with Aretha Franklin before she became a star. At the highest point I was doing three sessions a day, six days a week. I got hired a lot by writers and arrangers who didn't want to write the piano parts. Don Costa is a great writer, but when he'd hire me, he'd write a little chord sheet, maybe a little melody, and then write, "Play classical here." Some writers would hear me play, and then write out impossible stuff for me, which I couldn't even read! [Laughs.]


Yes, but I had an upper-vertebrae injury during birth, and my right side has always been slightly paralyzed. So piano lessons were disappointing. I took lessons for ten years, and then I'd see some kid playing Carnegie Hall after three years of lessons. All my life I've had a hard time figuring out how to play things. I think that's the reason I started composing my own music when I was three or so. I think if I'd had two good hands, I'd probably be selling insurance today.


I had a record label caller Shelter with my partner, Denny Cordell. We went to England to cut my first record, and he introduced me to Glyn Johns, who was the Beatles' engineer. I said something like, "Boy, it would be great if Clapton could play on this." And Glyn said, "Well, I'll call him up." [Laughs.] And he called Eric. And he called George Harrison. And Ringo. And Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones. And a bunch of other people. It was really a lot of fun for me. Actually, we tried to sign Elton to Shelter back then, but we missed him by a week, and he'd signed with another label.


Pianos are heavy and hard to move. But if you don't tour with your own, you never know what you're going to get. That was why I liked the Yamaha CP-70 electric piano. I had three or four of those, and played them for years. They were all great, every one of them. Yamaha has always understood mass production-every Yamaha I've ever played has been great. With other pianos, you might have to play 25 of them before you find a good one. Anyway, Elton had his Yamaha there at the recording, and I ended up playing it all the time. It made me realize that I have a lot of vocabulary on a wooden grand piano that just doesn't come out on electronic keyboards-a lot of classical shtick, for example.


I actually don't listen to music very much. There are some exceptions-I have a new duet album with Willie Nelson that I've been listening to a lot. But I'm not a listener like Elton is. I was with him somewhere and this new band came in. Somebody was telling Elton who they were, and he said, "I know them," and started talking about how much he liked Track 5. He's such a consistent student of music and such a hard-working guy. He plays all over the world, and plays constantly. While we were doing the album, he played in Johannesburg, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, and then he would fly back and pick up whatever we were doing. [Laughs.] I'm just a piker compared to Elton!

Traum-Duo: Elton John (63) deutete an, einen Song mit Lady Gaga (24) aufnehmen zu wollen.

Der legendäre Sänger ('Candle in the Wind') ist eng mit der ausgeflippten Musikerin ('Bad Romance') befreundet und trat schon im Januar mit ihr bei den Grammy Awards auf.
Nicht ohne Grund, wie eine ausgiebige Schwärmerei des Künstlers in der 'Entertainment Weekly' bewies: "Ich liebe sie und ich liebe ihre Fähigkeit zu schreiben. Ich liebe die Songs, die sie schreibt."
Elton John ist schwer beeindruckt davon, wie Lady Gaga es immer wieder schafft, die Grenzen des Musikbusiness zu durchbrechen - sei es mit ihrer Musik oder mit ihren Outfits. Nur zu gerne würde der Kult-Star einen Track zu Lady Gagas heiß erwartetem zweiten Album 'Born This Way' beisteuern, fürchtet jedoch, dass sich kein passender Termin für eine Jam-Session finden wird. "Ich würde das so gerne tun", betonte John mit Hinblick auf eine Zusammenarbeit. "Es besteht tatsächlich die Chance, dass ich einen Song mit ihr mache, aber sie ist einfach so beschäftigt, wir kommen nie zusammen!"
'Born This Way' soll 2011 in den Läden stehen. Elton John durfte schon erste Hörproben genießen - und ist hin und weg von dem Material.
"Ich habe das Album schon gehört, ich denke also, es ist mehr oder weniger fertig", enthüllte der Brite und lobte: "Ihr Platte - ist verdammt großartig! 'Born This Way', der Titelsong, wird Gloria Gaynors 'I Will Survive' ersetzen - das war einmal die Schwulen-Hymnen, jetzt kommt eine neue Schwulen-Hymne. Aber eigentlich ist es keine Schwulen-Hymne - es passt zu allen."

The Ashvegas Hot Sheet: Elton John's economic impact; new juice for Fiesta Latina; council kills apartment complex; update on new Weaverville pub; and more

DateWednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday was a big news day. Some of what's going around:
-Big concert: Elton John's November concert in Asheville "will likely generate $1 million in spending as fans book hotel rooms and purchase food, drinks, gasoline, souvenirs and more, said Civic Center director Sam Powers," reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Nell’ultima intervista rilasciata ad Entertainment Weekly,Elton John ha espresso tutta la sua ammirazione per Lady GaGa.
Mi piacerebbe lavorare con lei in futuro. Entrambi veniamo dallo stesso posto. E’ come se fosse una specie di figlioccia di Elton John. L’adoro e amo il suo modo di scrivere. C’è la possibilità che io possa fare una canzone con lei ma siamo così occupati e non possiamo mai incontrarci. Ma il suo disco, è fottutamente fantastico. “Born This Way” che è il titolo della canzone sostituirà completamente”I Will Survive” di Gloria Gaynor. Sarà la nuova “I Will Survive” che a suo tempo  è stata un inno gay, e Born This Way sarà il nuovo inno gay. Anzi no, non sarà un inno gay, sarà un inno per tutti.

Elton John tribute to rock Escondido this weekend



Performer will also join a Fab Four tribute band for John Lennon's birthday Saturday in L.A.

ESCONDIDO -- Die-hard Elton John fans have a real treat in store this weekend.
Not the fans who've only known him since the Lion King's Broadway debut (although those fans would enjoy this, too), but more specifically, the fans who have followed him since he first touched down in America in 1970 and catapulted himself up the charts to fame.
Elton The Early Years is a tribute band that perfectly captures not only that original voice, but the charismatic stage presence, thrilling performance and outrageous costumes of the musical genius at his initial peak.
The band was the brainchild of Joe Alessandro, who plays Nigel Olsson (Elton John's longtime drummer) in full character on stage.
The star, however, is lifelong musician Kenny Metcalf, who channels Elton so well that you will forget he is not really the icon himself.
Two other familiar band mates round out the show, Bobby Storm as Dee Murray on bass and Dean Cooper as Davey Johnstone, playing lead guitar.
Although Metcalf has come full circle in his own life, there is no "Circle of Life" played on this stage. The songs you will hear are from Elton's first dozen or so albums (approximately 1970-75) which are only but a fourth of his total body of work. His vocals in those early years were much stronger; he could hit high notes and belt out his songs loudly as he pounded along on his piano. Today, critics and fans agree, his voice, tone and style is completely different than those days.
As a result, the songs Elton The Early Years perform are truly a snapshot in time, some are old standards, like "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "The Bitch Is Back" or "Captain Fantastic;" and some of them you will only know if you actually spun his early LPs over and over on your record player, like "Elderberry Wine," "Midnight Creeper" or "All the Girls Love Alice."
When Alessandro first approached Metcalf with his idea six years ago, Metcalf was busy and committed to making his own music, so he passed. Not long after their conversation, Metcalf's immune system was seized by the little understood "Pemphigus Vulgarus" - an auto-immune disorder for which there is no cure and is generally fatal.
"The disease almost killed me three years ago," Metcalf said. "It took me to death's door, but at the last minute, I was granted a reprieve from God."
The deadly auto-immune disease causes horrible sores and wounds on the surface of the skin. He lost the use of his voice and even drinking water was like swallowing broken glass. Metcalf was in tremendous pain and laid lifeless in the hospital for days. He truly believed he was going to die.
Miraculously, his wounds began to heal - even his doctors said they couldn't take credit for it the turn around.
"I had people all over the world praying for me, even the fan base of the rock band Stryper (because I was their original keyboardist). It really was a miracle I am alive," Metcalf said.
Note: In the late '70s and early '80s, Metcalf toured with the still popular Christian metal rock band, Stryper and has been connected to them and become a successful, award-winning musician in his own right, ever since.
He is not completely out of the woods, but keeps his disease "suppressed" through medication and a great amount of rest in between shows. Based on the performance he gives each night, it would be hard to believe there has ever been anything wrong.
When he was feeling better, Alessandro approached him again and they decided to make it happen. They launched the band this past May at the Hermosa Beach festival with 40,000 people in attendance. They were a hit and have been gaining attention and popularity, ever since.
Just last month, only three months after their launch, Metcalf was approached by the Fab Four, identified as the "Ultimate Beatles Tribute Band." The band was doing a tribute show in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 9 - John Lennon's birthday - and they wanted "Elton" to join in the tribute.
"What an honor!" Metcalf said excitedly.
This incredible one-night only experience will start with the Fab Four performing their regular Beatles tribute, then Elton will hit the stage as the Fab Four convert to a John Lennon tribute band, and it will end with Elton singing a solo tribute to his longtime friend. What an evening this should be.
For more information, including tickets to this evening of performances, visit the Club Nokia website.
Saturday will surely be quite a show, but unfortunately, Los Angeles is not just a hop and a skip away for most San Diegans. However, Escondido is.
The following evening, on Sunday, Oct. 10, Elton the Early Years will take to the stage at Lawrence Welk Resort Theater at 7 p.m.
The band has been at the Welk Theater for the last few Sundays. Because they stay in character the entire two-hour show, it is hard to tell where the character begins and ends. After a recent show, some British tourists even asked, "what part of England are you from?" Clearly a stellar, class act.
To get tickets for the Welk performance, call (888) 802-7469 or click on the website link above. The Welk Resort San Diego Theatre is located at 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive in Escondido, CA 92026

Follow Elton John The Early Years on Facebook.
You can also see live performances on YouTube HERE.