Sir Elton John says his career as a hit singles artist is now effectively over and he will now concentrate on making albums, starting with a collaboration with Leon Russell.
Sir Elton is one of the most successful singles artists of all time with his run of hits across four decades including Candle In The Wind 1997, the biggest-selling single globally of all time.
However, in conversation last night with writer and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini to promote the forthcoming The Union album with Russell he effectively drew a line under this part of his career.
"I don't have to make pop records any more," he told the event at the Electric Cinema in London. "In the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties the record companies said you had to have a single. I think I've fulfilled my brief. The singles chart is not one I'm going to be in very often any more so my view is to make records that fit my age. I don't think I'm going to do Crocodile Rock any more."
He said his aim now was to make albums like Bob Dylan does, citing the American's Modern Times as a model for his new album with Russell.
The album came about when Sir Elton heard Russell playing on his partner David Furnish's iPod and thought he had not done enough for who he called last night his idol and whom he had not spoken to in more than 30 years. American Russell was one of the most influential songwriters and musicians of the late Sixties and early Seventies and had previously played with the British artist but has been completely out of the limelight for three decades.
Sir Elton then phoned Russell in what turned out to be the nick of time with Russell's wife Jan telling the star, "He had more or less given up and this phone call brought him back to life."
In fact, just the week before recording started on the album Russell, writer of such clasic songs as This Masquerade and Delta Lady, had to have a five-and-a-half-hour emergency operation.
The new album, which will be released by Mercury in the UK in October, is produced by T Bone Burnett who shares its writing with Sir Elton, Russell and Sir Elton's long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin. It also features a stellar line-up of musicians including Booker T, Neil Young and Brian Wilson.
Sir Elton told Gambo most of the tracks were recorded in two takes, a way he now wants to record going forward. "Some of it isn't in perfect time, some of it is a little rough around the edges, but that's good for me," he said.
He also suggested the album would be a difficult seller. "The only way this record can sell is by word of mouth because it's not going to get any radio play, especially in America," said Sir Elton who plans to play live with Russell to promote the album with different artists guesting, including Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and Neil Young.
But his main aim is for the spotlight to be thrown back on the prestigious back catalogue of Russell , who is now being managed by Sir Elton's company. "There's no point in doing this record and not to bring to life his great work," he said.
- Music Week
- Music Week