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am 25. Januar 2005
It is always interesting to see which guests are present on a collection like this. Elton has chosen duet partners from a diverse range of musical backgrounds so although they all adapt, to some extent, to sing with Elton, it still makes for a somewhat eclectic album. So if you have broad musical tastes, you will enjoy the contrasting styles - if not, may find the album to be somewhat patchy.
The set opens with Tear drops, supposedly a duet with k d lang although, to my ears, it sounds more like an Elton John solo with k d providing harmony vocals. Next comes a superb duet with P M Dawn, When I think about love. Little Richard is the next guest (on The power), but despite the title suggesting an up-tempo rocker, this track is just mid-tempo, although still a fine song.
Don Henley (on Shaky ground), a gently rocking song with a bluesy feel, is next. The big hit among the tracks recorded specially for the album, True love, is a cover of the fifties classic by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. It made number two in the UK singles chart. It's difficult to follow the pairing of Elton and Kiki, but Chris Rea makes a valiant effort on If you were me, a superb ballad written by Chris.
When I originally bought this in 1992, I was surprised to find that Tammy Wynette was among the guests. Elton is clearly a fan of her music - he later recorded a cover of Stand by your man for her memorial album - and I love their duet, A woman's needs, although I know that country fans have divided opinions about this track.
More great duets follow featuring Nik Kershaw (who plays all the instruments), Gladys Knight (with music played by Stevie Wonder), RuPaul (on a re-working of Don't go breaking my heart, but not in the same class as the original version by Elton and Kiki), Marcella Detroit (on a cover of the Motown classic, Ain't nothing like the real thing), Paul Young (on a cover of the sixties oldie I'm your puppet, made famous by James and Bobby Purify), Bonnie Raitt (on a cover of the forties classic Love letters, which became a huge international hit for Ketty Lester in the sixties) and Leonard Cohen (on a cover of another forties song, Born to lose). All these tracks are, of course, excellent.
Next comes Don't let the sun go down on me, a live duet with George Michael. Originally a huge international solo hit for Elton in the seventies, this version was a UK number one hit in 1991. It may have been the success of the single that inspired Elton to record an album of duets. The album closes with Elton performing solo on Duets for one, although one of his guests (Chris Rea) is credited among the musicians.
This album is not regarded as one of Elton's classic albums, but it is very entertaining - if you have broad musical tastes.