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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Elton John Still Going Strong

Written by Jon Williams

On September 24, Elton John will release The Diving Board. The veteran entertainer teamed up once again with his longtime collaborator, lyricist Bernie Taupin, for his 30th solo album. John also brought in another notable name to work on this release: producer T Bone Burnett.

Burnett, a musician who has toured as a guitarist with Bob Dylan, began his music production career in earnest in the 1980s. He has worked with legendary artists such as Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, and Kris Kristofferson. More recently, he came to prominence when he produced the soundtrack to the 2000 Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a dark and folksy collection of songs that were used as a major component of the movie. It won the 2002 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Since then, Burnett has worked with a diverse array of artists, often imbuing their albums with a sparse and haunting quality that has become part of his signature sound. Among his most celebrated releases was Raising Sand, the unlikely pairing of rock legend Robert Plant and country/bluegrass star Alison Krauss, which won the Album of the Year Grammy in 2009. Recently he has worked on such compilations as the Hunger Games soundtrack and Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the theatrical collaboration between John Mellencamp and Stephen King.

He’s also worked with Elton John once before, on the 2010 collaboration with Leon Russell, The Union. When brought on board for the new album, Burnett suggested that John go back to basics. As a result, music on The Diving Board will consist mainly of piano, drum, and bass, much like the output from early in Sir Elton’s career.

His first album, Empty Sky, came out in 1969, when John was just 22 (although it didn’t release in the U.S. until 1975). His breakthrough came with his 1970 self-titled second album, which kicked off with the hit “Your Song.” After that album went gold, he followed it up later that same year with Tumbleweed Connection, which went platinum. Throughout the years, he has continued to release albums at a steady pace. Prior to The Diving Board, his last solo release was The Captain & the Kid (an echo of his 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy) in 2006, which led to The Union in 2010.

In addition, John’s career has been filled with duets and collaborations featuring a wide range of musicians. Perhaps the best known is the hit single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee, which was not included on any of his albums but can be found on Rocket Man, a compilation of his number one hits. He performed with John Lennon on Lennon’s 1974 single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” (from Walls and Bridges), and joined George Michael onstage in 1991 to perform “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (Love Songs). Pop star Nelly Furtado joined him on “Crocodile Rock” on the soundtrack for the 2011 animated film Gnomeo & Juliet; the film also features a duet between John and Lady Gaga, although that version of “Hello Hello” does not appear on the soundtrack.

Pre-order The Diving Board to have it on your shelves for patrons on its September 24 release date, and be sure to SmartBrowse Elton John on our homepage for a full list of albums, compilations, and soundtracks from this legendary musician, plus concert films, audiobook biographies, and more.

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