Elton John & Leon Russell - The Union
Leon Russell first met Elton John when John performed his first U.S. show at the iconic Troubadour in Los Angeles and the pair went on tour shortly after, so the only real surprise about this collaboration album is that it's taken forty years to reach us. It's certainly been worth the wait though as pianos banter back and forth, backed by the occasional gospel choir, to create a sound that is truly masterful and wonderfully old-school. Things get off to a cracking start with lead single 'If It Wasn't For Bad' with its memorably blunt chorus - "If it wasn't for you, I'd be happy" - and the standard rarely drops as if it's not the tinkling of the ivories that gets you, it's Russell's smoky, soulful voice that will, such as on the melancholic 'There's No Tomorrow', or the sheer enjoyment of the album's funkier, upbeat numbers which John revels in, such as the irresistible 'Monkey Suit'. There are times when things get a bit over-indulgent but there are far worse artists you could be listening to over-indulge, meaning that proceedings are rarely dull. That being said, a couple of tracks are almost too downbeat for their own good and consequently drag slightly, such as on 'When Love Is Dying' where you will cry out for a return to the jolly pianos of 'A Dream Come True', but The Union is just so charming when it shines - and it beams like a midday sun - that you will find it in you to accept its rare shortcomings.