Elton John is preparing to retire from touring, and so it seems as fitting a moment as any to honor the esteemed and prolific singer-songwriter with a tribute album of sorts. In this case, it’s a lengthy double-disc project called Revamp and Restoration, which seems to be a kind of songbook album, with the first disc devised by John and the second by his career-long lyricist and collaborator Bernie Taupin.
Of the 26-track project’s genesis, John said in a statement: “Restoration was Bernie’s project, and he’s a huge country fan. On Revamp, I wrote out a wish list of people that I would love and asked them, and to my surprise, most of them said yes, and we have quite an astonishing eclectic crew.”
I come here, with hat in hands, to inform you all: The track list of Revamp is, for the most part, terrifying to behold. While Restoration features country legends new and old with some intriguing sounding combinations (Lee Ann Womack on “Honky Cat,” Willie Nelson on “Border Song,” Kacey Musgraves on “Roy Rogers,” among others), Revamp exists entirely on the spectrum between tepid to unequivocally abominable ideas.
Sure, a Sam Smith “Daniel” doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world, nor a Miley Cyrus “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” though her “The Bitch is Back” rendition seems like it will be a bit much (she also recently performed “Tiny Dancer” with Elton.) Gaga is doing “Your Song,” but we saw her do that at the Grammys back in 2011, so we know what’s coming. But there is far harsher terrain to be traversed here: The album actually has the stones to begin with John, Pink and [drumroll] Logic collaborating on a very 2018 version of “Bennie and the Jets.”
Is there any way that could not be wrought in hellfire? And all this only a little over a year after A Tribe Called Quest made good rap music using a “Bennie” sample on “Solid Wall of Sound.” But Q-Tip also has some blood on his hands here: He collaborated on a version of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Demi Lovato for Revamp.
There is stuff that is less hard to imagine but no less regrettable. Ed Sheeran (or “Ed Shirran,” as Elton prefers to call him) does “Candle in the Wind,” which is kind of a fitting choice for a sappy, overly sincere British chap, and Mumford and Sons contributed “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” which is a good sleeper pick for the potential most unlistenable song on this album. Queens of the Stone Age doing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”–does the world need it, really?
Just following the release of the album on April 6, CBS will air a John tribute concert called Elton John: I’m Still Standing, filmed at Madison Square Garden on April 10. It will feature performances from John, Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Chris Martin, Kesha, John Legend, and more.
See the full Revamp and Restoration tracklists below.
1. “Bennie and The Jets” – Elton John, P!nk, Logic
2. “We All Fall In Love Sometimes” – Coldplay
3. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” – Alessia Cara
4. “Candle In The Wind” – Ed Sheeran
5. “Tiny Dancer” – Florence + The Machine
6. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Mumford & Sons
7. “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” – Mary J. Blige
8. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Q Tip feat. Demi Lovato
9. “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” – The Killers
10. “Daniel” – Sam Smith
11. “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” – Miley Cyrus
12. “Your Song” – Lady Gaga
13. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Queens of the Stone Age
1. “Rocket Man” – Little Big Town
2. “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” – Maren Morris
3. “Sacrifice” – Don Henley and Vince Gill
4. “Take Me To The Pilot” – Brothers Osborne
5. “My Father’s Gun” – Miranda Lambert
6. “I Want Love” – Chris Stapleton
7. “Honky Cat” – Lee Ann Womack
8. “Roy Rogers” – Kacey Musgraves
9. “Please” – Rhonda Vincent and Dolly Parton
10. “The Bitch Is Back” – Miley Cyrus
11. “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” – Dierks Bentley
12. “This Train Don’t Stop” – Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris
13. “Border Song” – Willie Nelson