Good Morning To The Night by Elton John Vs Pnau

 

Does the combination surprise you? It’s not every day that a British music legend teams up with an Australian dance outfit to remix four-decade-old classics. But that’s exactly what Elton John did when he gave Pnau free reign over his entire back catalogue from 1970-76. A few years ago, he was blown away when he came across their self-titled CD, promptly declaring it “the best thing I’ve heard in ten years”. So he took them under his wing, and ended up playing an influential role on Soft Universe, the pop duo’s rock-flavored release last year.

 

The time has come for the students to pay tribute to the guru. A very tasteful tribute as it turns out, reimagining those piano ballads in the mold of Balearic beat. Each track is a medley of up to nine original songs, and it’s chopped and mixed perfectly so it works well as a whole. Like a refined version of a mash-up, except that in this case, the original artist has approved it and hand-picked the men for the job. And Pnau have delivered, with original-sounding stuff that retains the melodious pop allure of the most successful male solo artist in history.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Good Morning To The Night 3:21
#2. Sad 3:21
#3. Black Icy Stare 3:12
#4. Foreign Fields 3:33
#5. Telegraph To The Afterlife 4:45
#6. Phoenix 3:30
#7. Karmatron 2:41
#8. Sixty 3:51

 

PERSONNEL:
Nick Littlemore: Keyboards
Peter Mayes: Guitars, Bass
Elton John: Vocals, Original Music

 

PRODUCER:
Nick Littlemore
Peter Mayes

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
16th July, 2012

 

SINGLES:
Good Morning To The Night
Sad

 

Lead single Good Morning To The Night jumps on the dance floor right away, all thumping bass and looped clean guitars before the chorus breaks it down with horizontal synth sweeps. The club hit has now been accorded Olympian status – as one of the official songs of London 2012 – and thoroughly deserves that recognition. Fans will recognize the tidbits from Funeral For A Friend, Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters, Tonight, and even the cute little guitar twang from Gulliver/It’s Hay Chewed.

 

Sad is a little more recognizable; using the refrain (“Sad, it’s so sad”) from Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word as the chorus is pure genius, as is its juxtaposition with the verse from Curtains. The disco tom-toms and Burt Bacharach-style horns suffuse it with a retro-sophisticated vibe that sticks in your head. And considering that these were cut from vinyl discs made using a recording setup which had no way of separating the instruments, you have to be doubly awed.

 

Black Icy Stare, with groovy organs and brass offers a gradual shift to material more in line with Elton’s slow fare. The more die-hard component of his followers should be able to slice and dice these with ease, especially the laid back aura of Telegraph To The Afterlife, distinctly Floyd-ish in its comfortable numbness, which I’m sure was intentional: hey, if we’re in the 70s, where’s the psychedelia?

 

Phoenix is another highlight, the electric pianos and keyboard violins a throwback to early dance pop, while the instrumental Sixty is the most conservative of the lot, fusing Sixty Years On and its various live versions (you can even hear the whistles at 2:53 and 3:19).

 

At one point, Pnau doubted that they would be able to pull this project off, because very few reworked albums are worth keeping, despite the brilliance of a remix or two every now and then. The genre just doesn’t work that way. But Good Morning To The Night works because of a unique approach, this blending together of the lesser-known tunes from John’s most creative period, steering away from the trap of a Rocket Man 2.0 or Candle In The Wind 2012.

 

 

 

 

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