Still the king
Antonio M Vazquezpausa | Miami, Fl United States | 12/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even without hitting the high notes,Elton proves he can deliver his old hits with sheer passion and style.This Cd captures a 1999 show that features Kiki Dee and Bryan Adams among others.Classics such as DON"T GO BREAKIN' MY HEART and SAD SONGS sound reenergized and anew.The duet with Mary J.Blige gives a new soulful flavor to I GUESS THAT's WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES."
Elton does a great job - but this could be so much more...
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 03/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Elton John has certainly cemented his place in the history of music. He is a legendary performer who has rode a wave of success unlike any artist. Elton John first came on the music scene in 1969. Once his 1970 hit "Your Song" of his self-titled "Elton John" (his second) album was released, it would begin one of the most consistent music careers in the history of music. In fact, from 1969 until 1991 - there wasn't a calendar year that passed without the release of some sort of Elton John album. Even after that, Elton would only miss 2 calendar years without a release between 1991 and 2004 (those years being 1998 and 2003). With the exception of a slight downward spiral in the late 1970s, Elton would also consistently become a "hit" machine. While Elton has released several live compilations throughout his career, this collection "Elton John - One Night Only Greatest Hits" is the only one that provides a good cross section from Elton's early 1970s work through his work in the 1990s. "One Night Only" does deliver some very good Elton John live performances, but it is not without it's flaws.
First up, this was not a single night performance. It actually is a compilation of two performances recorded in Madison Square Garden in October 2000. It seems kind of puzzling of all of the names to call this disc, "One Night Only" was picked (considering it somewhat misrepresents the collection). I usually consider it a cardinal mistake when a live disc is taken as a compilation of live performances from several shows instead of from a single night. By having a compilation of live songs as opposed to a live concert, the flow is disrupted. You also don't get the opportunity to hear the CD as if it were the concert preventing you from getting the full experience. There is something magical about hearing a great performance on a single night. In fairness to this collection, the reason why this was built from two performances was because of the guest vocalists that perform duets with Elton John. It is worth noting that this collection is assembled very nicely and does a pretty good job at trying to simulate that the tracks are from one continuous performance - even though they are not.
It's also worth noting that this is not a complete collection from the two nights. This compilation takes 17 Elton John tracks focusing mostly on Elton's commercially successful "hits". However - there are several songs missing that were performed on the two nights in Madison Square Garden. Most notably missing are: "Funeral For a Friend", "Little Jeannie", "Tiny Dancer", "Club at the End of the Street", "Blue Eyes", "The One", "I Don't Wanna Go on With You Like That", "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word", and "Come Together". I would have liked to have seen any one of these tracks instead of "Sacrifice" or "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?". It seems like there was an attempt to try to get this album released as a single disc. I still think it would have made a big difference if they included all of the songs and released this as a two-disc collection. All of these omitted songs are included on the DVD version of "Elton John - One Night Only". In addition, even though "One Night Only" includes "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", the duet version that Elton did with Billy Joel on one of the two nights has been omitted. This duet is also on the DVD version, so I can't see there being copyright problems on why this was omitted. Some may say it isn't worth releasing an audio CD that mirrors the video. I tend to disagree. The progressive Rock band Rush released an audio CD for "Rush in Rio" that mirrored the DVD - namely because the band saw some magic with the performance. Perhaps Elton John should have done the same here - because there are some very good performances.
Elton does a very good job on vocals and piano on all of the tracks. Perhaps the tracks that stand out the most are the duets. While Elton is now an "elder statesman" of Rock, he has always been an artist who likes to work with young and upcoming artists as well as established artists. Two of the better duets are with young artists - "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues" (with Mary J. Blige) and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting (with Anastasia). Elton performs "Sad Songs" with Bryan Adams - the two have worked together before (Prince's Trust Concert), but I could have thought of better tracks for this duo to perform. The fourth duet is with British Vocalist Ronan Keating who performs "Your Song" with Elton. Finally, Elton does his famous duet with Kiki Dee - "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". While I think it's good that Elton reunites with Kiki Dee, I think it would have been nicer if Elton had brought in another guest vocalist to do that duet with him. I know this may not be a popular position - but from a personal standpoint, Kiki's act has worn thin. This isn't meant to knock the performance - the duet still comes off very well.
In general, there are no bad performances on this collection. Other notable standout performances are "Rocket Man", "Philadelphia Freedom", "I'm Still Standing", and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me".
The liner notes contain a terrific biographical write-up of Elton John written by John Tobler. It also contains band and musician credits as well as the production credits. While Elton does deliver some solid live performances on this collection, this collection had the potential to be so much more. Probably the weak point is the fact that there are so many missing songs from these performances. Despite the flaws, the quality of Elton's work remains the overriding factor - therefore, I'd recommend this."