Gina Arnold
November 29, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Various Artists
genre
Pop

We gave it an B

It says something profound about Elton John as a performer that at the height of his popularity in early to mid-’70s, America was gripped by his bravado performances of silly songs like ”Levon,” an ode to a balloon salesman?s son. The wonder of it all comes to mind again with this tribute to the songwriting of John and collaborator Bernie Taupin untitled Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. Supremely trivial talents like Wilson Phillips sound like sheer genius doing ”Daniel,” while Sinead O?Connor, a far greater artist, stumbles badly when she tries ”Sacrifice,” a piece of fluff that?s hardly worthy of her. Clearly, as in making pastry, John?s music needs a light hand. Two who excel at such froth are Kate Bush, who does an eerie ”Rocket Man,” and Jon Bon Jovi, whose soaring ”Levon” is one of his finest moments as a singer yet. Hall and Oates come off very poorly indeed covering ”Philadelphia Freedom,” a song with some of Taupin?s more absurd lyrics. Most ridiculous of all are the Who, who perform John?s explicit Who rip-off, ”Saturday Night?s Alright (for Fighting).” They certainly don?t improve on the original, nor do they clarify the enduring question of whether John is a genius or a strangely irresistible buffoon. B

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