When Elton John released this record in 2006, there was a strong case to be made that ‘The Captain & the Kid’ was the most complete record he had released in quite some time. Like many other legendary artists who still lingered in the popular music scene, Elton John had become a reliable figure on the adult contemporary chart (something Rod Stewart and Billy Joel are guilty of as well). It just seems to be something happens; an artist who was once king of the crop begins to rest on the mantles of their legacy. This record, however, shows Elton John and partner-in-crime Bernie Taupin defying this standard convention.
The opening track on this record is “Postcards from Richard Nixon”, a track that rekindles some of John’s classic early-’70s material in fine fashion. Something that is different on this record as opposed to, say, ‘Tumbleweed Connection’, is that John’s voice has deepened very much over the years. His youthful yarl has become a rich baritone that in no way hinders the quality of the music, mind you. His voice is much like a fine wine, it simply gets richer and better as time goes on. One of the undeniable highlights of the record is “Tinderbox”, which attempts to bring back the vibe of classic John/Taupin ballads from years past. The following track, “And the House Fell Down”, adds a touch of old-school Elton John flashy showmanship with its quirky piano melody proving that John has lost none of his trademark ability to make a record a complete artistic production, complete with an imagined visual companion and an almost broadway-esque sensibility. The last track that is absolutely essential to mention is “The Bridge”, which admittedly is the closest to the adult contemporary vibe that this record reaches. However, the listener can’t deny that the conviction of this track is much stronger than the average adult contemporary track. It’s very clear that both Elton John and Bernie Taupin have bought into the idea of making this record a full production.
This is definitely the most inspired Elton John record that had been released in quite some time. One of the reasons for this is its deliberate attempt at capturing the feel of his 1975 classic ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’, which this record is an assumed sequel to. Though this record doesn’t quite reach the overall quality that its predecessor did, there are distinct moments where it certainly does. If not quite an essential addition to Elton John’s legendary catalog, this record certainly serves as proof that he and Taupin still have a lot of gas left in the tank and when they choose to put their combined powers together, they’re still capable of being one of the most potent forces in popular music. It’s also quite charming to hear John attempt to rekindle his more youthful self and succeed in doing so very easily. Even the tracks that don’t quite stand out the way the highlights do maintain their own charming moments in their own right. This celebration of a legacy that few artists have ever been able to top, with its precise execution, will go down as one of the latter-day testimonies to the greatness of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.