The attempted homage to the great Elton John just showcases the quality of the originals through a series a truly terrible covers.
In a new compilation tribute album Revamp: Reimagining the songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin, an assortment of the legendary duo’s greatest hits have been covered by an amalgamation of some of music’s most recognisable faces. The result? A journey that resembles the nightmare-inducing boat ride down Willy Wonka’s Tunnel of Terror, with each performance floating between the lines of disconcertingly intriguing and downright sacrilege.
Opening with ‘Bennie and the Jets’, and Elton’s only appearance on the album, we are immediately faced with the most audacious attempt of the thirteen covers. The introduction of P!nk, love her or hate her, is a suitable addition matching up relatively well with the big man himself, but the arrangement has been mutilated in order to make it acceptable to allow Logic to come in with tolerable cameo. Whilst the vocal contributions are some of the better features, the electro-pop synthesisers are an unwelcome stain. From here the album becomes much more conventional and significantly less blasé, not necessarily for the better.
Starting with the positives, the most surprising successful effort was Q-Tip and Demi Lovato adding a bit of RnB to ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. A smooth beat and effective harmonies make this terrible sounding idea work impressively well, of course not a patch on Anne Hathaway’s performance in Ella Enchanted, however. Florence + The Machine and Mary J. Blige on ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’ respectively keep it simplistic and classy, if uninspiring. Finishing on Queens of the Stone Age’s take on ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ is also one of the better moments, with Josh Homme’s oozing machismo contrasting well to the emotive nature of the 1973 classic.
However, for every respectable cover, there’s a dire track that spits on and defaces the work of one the country’s greatest ever talents. Lady Gaga goes full out overkill and grapples with ‘Your Song’ until she’s sure it’s drawn its last breath. The Killers seem to be turning into the epitome of ‘dad rock’ more and more each day, and their version of ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters’ doesn’t do them any favours. Miley Cyrus‘ ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ proves that the late George Michael is the only artist other than Elton to ever do the song justice. Lastly, if plaguing the airwaves for what seemed like an eternity with 2017s ÷, Ed Sheeran pokes his cheery ginger-embroidered face up once again like a strain of herpes in Connaught Halls in fresher’s week, to turn ‘Candle in the Wind’ from the bestselling song of all time to a pile of gooey acoustic mush that makes you cringe until your face retreats into your anus.
After listening I am left wondering whether the only reason Elton allowed this monstrosity to happen is to prove just how good he is himself. Whilst some of the covers are somewhat palatable, not a single one comes close to matching the singer’s iconic sound. It seems a certainty that Elton’s upcoming farewell world tour performances, with a voice wearied by time, will still undoubtedly surpass the endeavours of this album’s assemblage, all of whom proving unfit to lace Elton’s diamond encrusted platform boots.
Revamp is out now via Virgin EMI. Elton John has recently announced his ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour which will be the performer’s final outing.