Elton John's album The Captain & the Kid will be treasured by his fans and will likely inspire more than a few chills of recognition. For less dedicated listeners, The Captain & the Kid is a solid, nostalgic pop album that avoids descending into sticky sentimentality. This collection of songs is proof that there are still sparks of magic that fly when Elton John and Bernie Taupin collaborate in writing music.
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy Revisited
The Captain & the Kid is a sequel of sorts to 1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, one of the most celebrated albums of Elton John's long career. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was an autobiographical work describing the struggles of Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin during the early years of their musical collaborations in England. It included the stunning top 5 pop single "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."
The Captain & the Kid revisits the ensuing events over the next 30+ years in the John-Taupin collaboration, and their adventures as an odd couple - John the high-profile performer and Taupin the writer who just wants to be a cowboy. There have been periods since 1975 when Elton John and Bernie Taupin each wrote songs with other collaborators, but they continue to inspire the best work in each other. The Captain & the Kid is a worthy continuation of their story.
Touching the Nostalgic Bases
Kicking off with "Postcards From Richard Nixon" detailing first impressions and first adventures in the United States, The Captain & the Kid touches a wide range of nostalgic bases in the careers of the duo. The rocking "Just Like Noah's Ark" gives an impressionistic view of the record business of the 70's. "Blues Never Fade Away" refers to Elton John's support of Ryan White, an early high-profile victim of the AIDS epidemic, and "I Must Have Lost It On the Wind" ruminates about Elton John's long list of past lovers.
Although the music roams through the years as if seen through sepia glasses, John and Taupin deftly avoid sugar-coating the past even covering their fiery conflicts with honesty on "Tinderbox" and "...And the House Fell Down." These songs ring true like a classy memoir instead of sounding like a well-scrubbed tribute. High points are here side by side with more than a few lows.
Top Tracks on 'The Captain & the Kid'
- Postcards From Richard Nixon
- Just Like Noah's Ark
- The Bridge
- Old '67
- The Captain and the Kid
Reasons to Still Listen to Elton John
Although it lacks the truly cinematic scope of some of Elton John's early to mid-1970's work, The Captain & the Kid still provides plenty of reasons to continue listening to Elton John. The piano and voice combined with Bernie Taupin's unique lyrical glasses deliver a singular sound that is familiar to millions of music fans. Whether rocking through "Just Like Noah's Ark" or delivering a majestic reading of "The Bridge," Elton John and his band help us all remember the past with a sense of both comfort and grace.
Instead of being a farewell, The Captain & the Kid sounds most like a summation of the past and preparation for the future. If we're lucky, 10-20 years down the road John and Taupin may find reason to extend the story of the "urban soul in a fine silk suit" and "heart out west in a Wrangler shirt."