Elton's new studio album is now in the mixing stage and is provisionally set for release in October 2010.
Just a year ago Bernie Taupin teased visitors to his web site by telling them that he and Elton were planning to go into the studio early in 2010 and that "this collaboration of old and new friends promises to represent a direction that has been fermenting for years in the heads of its perpetrators."
At the end of 2009 word leaked out that Elton and Bernie would be working with one of their avowed heroes for over forty years, Leon Russell, on the new album. In the late 1960s Leon Russell was Elton and Bernie's musical idol, and in 1970 he was seated in the audience when Elton first played The Troubadour Club in Los Angeles, kick-starting his own extraordinary four-decade American dream.
Elton says, "I can't stress enough how significant an influence Leon Russell was on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. In 1970, when we first went to America and I played The Troubadour, we were obsessed by Leon's music, and looked up to him as some kind of musical god. On the second night of the Troubadour concerts he was there in the front row, but luckily I didn't spot him until near the end of the show, otherwise I would have been a nervous wreck."
In January of this year Elton began recording in Los Angeles, working with Bernie Taupin, Leon Russell and hugely successful and highly respected producer T Bone Burnett. Elton, Bernie and Leon had already written many songs together at a writing session the previous year where, according to Bernie, the trio had written "a vast wealth of material that ranges far and wide and covers many musical genres."
The sessions continued throughout January and February and Bernie then told us that "the trio has cut fifteen songs ranging from Stones-like rockers, Country tinged ballads, Gospel and even a Sinatra-like weepy similar to something torn from the grooves of In the Wee Small Hours".
The players on those sessions included drummers Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, guitar virtuoso Marc Ribot and additional keyboardist and tech wizard Keefus Ciancia. Neil Young performed as a guest artist, as did Booker T. Jones, Brian Wilson and pedal steel wizard Robert Randolph.
Sixteen tracks are currently being mixed, including Never Too Old (to Hold Somebody), which Elton has already performed at recent concerts.
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