News in Review: Elton John & Leon Russell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Smashing Pumpkins, The Kinks, Mavis Staples & Jeff Tweedy
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2010, Volume 17, #8
Written by John Metzger
Fri August 27, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
Elton John Gets Back to His Roots with Leon Russell
Elton John’s latest recording project — and his first since The Captain & The Kid in 2006 — is a labor of love. Essentially, the entire purpose of the endeavor is to pay homage to Leon Russell, an underappreciated singer, songwriter, pianist, and venerable session man whom John has long idolized. Produced by T Bone Burnett, The Union features new material penned by John, Russell, and Burnett as well as John’s frequent collaborator Bernie Taupin. In addition, Neil Young and Brian Wilson also appear on the endeavor. Slated for release on October 19, The Union is similar to many of the albums on which Burnett has worked in that it blends together elements of country, gospel, and blues. Some of the sessions held by John, Russell, and Burnett were filmed by Cameron Crowe, though there currently are no plans to use the footage. When the duo hits the road in 2011, it will be the first time in 40 years that John and Russell will share a stage.
Jerry Lee Lewis Preps Another All-Star Album
Sometimes even rock ’n‘ roll legends need to draw attention to themselves. Jerry Lee Lewis opened a new chapter in his lengthy career when he assembled a star-studded line-up to help him create Last Man Standing, his profile-elevating collection from 2006. The blueprint worked so well that, four years later, Lewis is applying the same technique to his forthcoming effort Mean Old Man. Due on September 7, the 18-track effort will feature an enviable roster of performers. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, for example, join Lewis on a pair of Rolling Stones classics — Sweet Virginia and Dead Flowers, respectively — while John Fogerty collaborates with the fiery pianist on Bad Moon Rising. Gillian Welch, Solomon Burke, Willie Nelson, and Robbie Robertson are just a few of the other artists who appear on the outing.
The Return of Smashing Pumpkins
Billy Corgan has resurrected Smashing Pumpkins for the first time since drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was ousted from the band in early 2009. The latest incarnation of the group includes guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bass player Nicole Fiorentino, and drummer Mike Byrne. Although hits such as Tonight Tonight and Disarm are still featured prominently in its concerts, Smashing Pumpkins has had to pare down its sets to give the newcomers time to learn the material. Corgan also is trying to make room for selections from his ambitious, 44-track opus Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.
Kinks Founding Bass Player Dead at 66
Musician Pete Quaife passed away from kidney failure on June 23 at the age of 66. Quaife served as the bass player for The Kinks from 1961 through 1969. Initially, he was an equal partner in the band, and his ideas were welcomed by Ray and Dave Davies. As the conflict between the brothers grew, Quaife increasingly was left by the wayside. Frustrated with his inability to contribute creatively to The Kinks’ output, he quit in the aftermath of the recording sessions for Village Green Preservation Society. Quaife almost immediately retired from the music business. Later, he became a graphic artist, though from time to time, he surfaced on stage, usually to add his bass to the familiar riff from The Kinks’ You Really Got Me.
Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy Go to Church
Throughout her career, Mavis Staples routinely has made a joyful noise while exploring the intersection of gospel and soul. Nevertheless, she picked up an intriguing new collaborator to assist her in crafting her latest set You Are Not Alone: Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy not only produced the affair, but he also contributed several new compositions to the set. The rest of the members of Wilco, with the exception of guitarist Nels Cline, also appeared on the endeavor. Over the course of You Are Not Alone, Staples tackles a number of traditional tunes as well as songs by Allen Toussaint, Randy Newman, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album is slated for release on September 14.
Of Further Interest...
Copyright © 2010 The Music Box