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16 Nov 2010

Searching For Elton's Wax Figures Around The World

Hi Eltonites. I remember when I went to London years ago, how much I loved to see an Elton's wax figure at Madame Tussaud's Rock Circus. I reminded this when the other day I was looking at old pics I've kept in my Elton's box. Wow!!! It was the first time I sat at Elton's side on the piano, singin' the characteristic "B-B-B-B- Bennie And The Jetssssssssss". It came immediately to mind the following question: how many Elton's wax figures exists around the world, in the wax museums? So, I took old Jack Rabbit for a mission: looking for Elton's waxwork figures. That's what he could find. Enjoy the trip around the world: Old Rabbit Eltonin' Around the World. Yeah!!!

Madame Tussauds
Marylebone Rd. London NW1 5LR

In 1976, March 7, Elton John's first likeness was added to Madame Tussaud's waxworks in London. He is the first rock figure so accorded the honor since The Beatles were first immortalized in wax back in March 1964. Madame Tussauds is the most famous wax museums around the world. It was set up by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. Marie Tussaud (1761–1850), born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, France, worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, a physician skilled in wax modelling, who taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling. Tussaud created her first wax figure, of Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, in 1777 and she established her first permanent exhibition on Baker Street in London in 1835. In 1842, she made a self portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. The museum moved to its current location on Marylebone Road in 1884. In 1925 a fire destroyed many of the figures, but the moulds survived, allowing the historical waxworks to be remade.

Madame Tussaud's wax museum has now expanded with branches in Amsterdam, Las Vegas, New York City, Hong Kong and Shanghai, with additional locations scheduled to open in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. Today's wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and famous murderers.

On 2 July 2005 two major events occurred: Elton performed at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London, and Madame Tussaud’s unveiled his wax likeness, which had taken over 1 000 hours to complete. Stroll through the glittery music room, where Jimi Hendrix and Elton John are right around the corner from Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. Also, a life size chocolate figure of Sir Elton had been made to celebrate Cadbury's Centenary.

London. Rock Circus. The London Pavilion
1 Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus
London W1V 9LA, England

SPEAKS TO YOU, SINGS TO YOU, PLAYS FOR YOU, MOVES AND TOUCHES YOU". That sounded interesting! The attraction featured authentic hand casts from over 50 artists, running from established stars like Phil Collins to the up and coming like D Ream and Let Loose. Seated on his piano, beside Stevie Wonder, Elton's wearing one of his stage costumes from 1973. It was once home to a famous cinema and the venue for many star studded premieres. The Beatles made their last public appearance there at the 1968 premiere of 'Yellow Submarine'. Unfortunetely, The Rock Circus exhibition closed in September 2001. In 2000, the building became part of the Trocadero Centre, and signage on the building was altered in 2003 to read London Trocadero.

Blackpool Wax Museum
85-89 Promenade. Blackpool, Lancashire FY1 5AA. UK

Louis Tussand was the great grandson of Madame Marie Tussand. He created this waxwork museum which is quite similar to the Madame Tussaud’s museum and is situated in Blackpool. You could join the stars of rock and pop in the Rock Factory and have a go at playing the drums or guitar, listening to the hits, including classics from greats such as Elton, Elvis and Freddie Mercury and most recent chart toppers, Robbie Williams and Madonna. In April 2011 the waxworks will re-open when it becomes the next member of the ultimate celebrity attraction brand of Madame Tussauds.

Musée Grevin
10 Boulevard Montmartre. 75009 Paris, France

At the end of the 19th Century, Arthur Meyer, a journalist and founder of the famous daily newspaper Le Gaulois, conceived the idea of showing his contemporaries 3D representations of the front-page celebrities in his newspaper. At a time when the press did not use photography he thought of creating a place where the public could at last “put a face” on the people in the news. To achieve this original project, he called on Alfred Grévin, who was a cartoonist, sculptor, and designer of theatrical costumes, and who became so involved that in the end, the project bore his name. When the Grévin opened its doors to the public on 5th June 1882, it was an immediate success! The museum now contains some 300 characters arranged in scenes from the history of France and modern life, including a panorama of French history from Charlemagne to Napoleon III, bloody scenes of the French Revolution, movie stars, and international figures such as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and Pope John Paul II.

Wax Museum Prague
Melantrichova 5, Prague 1. Czech Republic

The first Wax Museum in Prague was opened at Rapid Palace in March 1997. Due to the huge number of visitors from home and abroad, a second museum was opened in 1999 near Karlstejn Castle and a third museum in 2001, at Ceský Krumlov. In 2002 the Wax Museum opened in Mostecka Street. In the following year they moved from Rapid Palace to be more centrally placed in Melantrichova Street. The renovation of the Melantrichova Street premises in 2003 provided the opportunity to divide the collection between the two Prague Wax Museums; Mostecka Street specialising in the early historical exhibits, whilst at the renovated Melantrichova Street museum, over 50 Czech and World figures of culture, sport and politics from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, who changed local and world history. At present it boasts 260 figures in all. The Prague Wax Museum also offers what it calls a multi media programme -a caleidoscopic film of Prague architecture through the ages -called Magical Prague.

Louis Tussauds Wax Museum
H.C. Andersens Boulevard 22, DK-1553 Copenhagen

A part of Tivoli is the Louis Tussaud Wax Museum opened in 1974. The museum is concentrating not only on famous international stars but on fabled figures from Denmark and legends, as well. Here are more than 200 wax figures, everybody from Danish royalties through Leonardo da Vinci to Boris Jelcin and Bill Clinton. There are several interesting sections to visit such as Hall of Kings, Statesmen, Art Masters, Snow Queen's Castle, Chamber of Horror, and many more. There is a particular emphasis on the ubiquitous Hans Christian Andersen and his fairy tales. The Wax Museum closes permanently on August 31st 2007. Wax figures have been moved to the Ripley's Museums (Radhuspladsen 57 and Ostergade 16).

The St. Petersburg Wax Museum. Russian Republic
191024, Nevsky Avenue, 156, office 1, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The art of wax portraits in Russia dates back to 1698 when Peter the Great returned home from a voyage with a wax head modeled after his own. The first wax museum in St. Petersburg was opened in 1738 with portrayals of contemporary kings or high ministers. Soon, wax museums began appearing all over the Russian Empire from Moscow to Odessa. They became favorite attractions for all classes of people, until the fad melted away after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The museum opened its doors in the late 1980-s, when a bunch of enthusiasts turned on the heat on the idea to revive the wax plastic arts in Russia. The Show Business Stars collections is represented by the idols of modern show business, like Michael Jackson, Elton John, Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and t.A.T.u, among others.

Rock Legends Wax Museum
5020 Centre Street (at top of Clifton Hill/Victoria Ave) Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2G 3N7

From the early pioneers of Rock n' Roll to present day musicians, includes Elvis Presley, Hanna Montana, Shania Twain, Madonna, Cher, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, and more than 60 of rock stars. The presentation of the life-size wax figures starts with personalities of the '60s. Then it's on to the punk rockers, The pop section and the modern. At the end there's a section that shows Rap's influences on Rock. Posted by the figures you'll find information about the songs and albums that they are famous.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
6933 Hollywood Boulevard. CA 90028, US

Located right next to the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre Star Handprints and Footprints on the Walk of Fame, the Madame Tussaud's Museum was opened in Augoust 2009. It allows you to get an up-close look at famous celebrity icons ranging from the silver screen stars of the golden era through to today's contemporary stars and movie makers. Step onto the green next to Tiger Woods, race cyclist Lance Armstrong, meet Spiderman crawling on the ceiling of an office, cozy up to heartthrob George Clooney, perform with Beyoncé and Elton John and mix and mingle among A-list celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Britney Spears and Zac Efron , to name a few.

For the first time in its 44-year history, the Hollywood Wax Museum auctioned 200 wax figures in May, 2009. Fans could bid on political figures, such as George Washington and Bill Clinton, and athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Musicians such as Cher, Stevie Wonder and the Fab Four, along with TV and film stars including Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Will Smith and Charlie Chaplin. Elton wore a reproduction of one of his stage-worn outlandish costumes consisting of a black and white contrasting tuxedo, ruffled tuxedo shirt, and large sunglasses. The figure, molded by Leah DeLio, standed almost 6 ft. tall. Each figure came with a signed certificate of authenticity from the Hollywood Wax Museum. A portion of the profits would support efforts to preserve Hollywood's historic Walk of Fame.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
3377 Las Vegas Boulevard South, NV 89109-8911, US

There are figures of famous political, music and film celebrities, and historical figures. You could walk up close and scrutinize the statues face to face. In addition to currently-popular actors and actresses, you'll find wax counterparts to film's famous flixters from days gone by. Wax replicas of actors from the golden era of film at Madame Tussaud's include Bob Hope, George Burns, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne. Noted musicians with statues at Madame Tussaud's include Elvis Presley, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, etc.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
1001 F Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20004-1412, US

Located in the heart of downtown, there's an interactive attraction that brings historical figures and events to life through wax figures that visitors can touch, see and hear. But it is not just about politics and history. In the Glamour section, you can mingle with celebrities such as Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Underwood. In the Sports section, you can interact with lifelike sports idols such as Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield and Tiger Woods. Also, the famous New Presidential Gallery and the Behind the Scenes' trade secrets used in creating the wax figures through experiences like testing your hand-eye coordination in the “Feel Like a Sculptor” interactive test. Kids and adults are fascinated when they compare their hands, feet and eyes to those of lifelike wax figures of celebrities and world leaders.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
234 West 42nd Street New York, NY 10036, US

Launched in October 2000 in Times Square, Madame Tussauds New York displays a collection of more than 200 painstakingly created wax figures of celebrities, historical leaders and cultural icons. The politically themed Gallery features figures as ideologically disparate as Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Historical and cultural figures draw the civil rights movement (Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X); royalty, real or de facto (Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis); and modern art (Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Gaultier). Stars of the Pop, TV and Sports pantheon, grouped in the VIP Club and Pop Culture areas, run the gamut from Simon Cowell and Susan Lucci to Elvis Presley, Beyonce, Madonna and Derek Jeter. Hollywood is represented by Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, among others.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum Presented "The British Royals" exhibition in 2006 with huge success. Prince Harry waxwork was placed alongside his brother William and the rest of the Roayl Family. Also it was included other British celebrities like Robbie Williams, Elton John and David Beckham. The figures were on loan from Madame Tussauds London and would be in NY until January 15, 2007.

Museo de Cera
Calle Londres, 6. Mexico City, México

The Wax Museum of Mexico City was inaugurated in 1979 in a beautiful turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau house. It exhibits more than two hundred wax figures of political leaders, actors, artists, footballers, athletes, and other personalities from around the world, including Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa and the Wolf Man, or historic figures like Emiliano Zapata and Frida Kahlo. The collection "lives" in a fantasy concoction of a house, next to the "castle" that houses the Mexican "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" museum next door. There's a café between the two museums, with at least 20 tables.

Dreamland Wax Museum Gramado
Av das Hortensias, 5507, Gramado/RS, Brazil

On December 3rd, 2009, the Dreamland Wax Museum Gramado was opened. It was the first project of its kind in Latin America. Seventeen scenarios presents wax replicas of international celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lady Di, Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Mel Gibson, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jodie Foster, Antonio Banderas, Tom Hanks, Charles Chaplin and Elton John, these are some of the highlights, most of them coming directly from the Hollywood Wax Museum in Los Angeles, but also from London and New York artists.

Ahhhh Jack Rabbit, great journey yours. Although you did a long time research, maybe you miss some of the wax museums were Elton is, I am sure Eltonites will notice you in case. Yes, yes, it's true. We mailed all of one of the museums asking for info and also, for the photo credits. I am sure you have more surprises for the Elton's figure Week. Stay tunned!!!

13 Nov 2010

The Eltonite's Day With... Steven Betts!!!

Hi Eltonites!!! Today is a very special date because we have here a very special people, a very special friend. Me, a fan since 1984, I always have dreamt how it could be being a fan in the mid-70s, with Elton on the top, with the outrageous customes, and things like that. This is the ending week of "The Union", Elton has reached high in the US music charts again, so I sent old Jack Rabbit to Scotland to find out someone who is a fan since that mid-70s, someone who knows everything about Elton, he has a great collection of tickets (don't touch them, Rabbit), and he kindly agrees to be the guest. Ladies and gentlemen, the doors of AllSongsList are all wide-open to receive the fantastic... the one and only... Steven Betts!!!!!!!!

Hi Steven, so nice for me to have you here, really an honour. Thanks for the acceptation. First... Could you tell us, please more, who are you and where are you from?

Steven Betts (50 years old) from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Thanks! When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

1972/73, Back then here in the UK we had “pop” bands/artists like Slade, T Rex, Bowie that I was well aware of, think it was the summer of ’72 that I became more aware of Elton, I had heard of "Your Song" and "Rocket Man" but then in ’73 with the release "Crocodile Rock" I probably started to sit up and take more of an interest, although the first album I bought was GBYBR and not Don’t Shoot Me, as a 12/13 year old then I was more into singles than albums. It was that purchase of GBYBR that really got me hooked.

So understandable!!! And what was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

First time was unbelievable, I remember sleeping out from about 10pm the night before tickets went on sale, it was a freezing cold February night (13th) for a concert that wasn’t on until 21st May.

Will never forget the night of the concert looking back seeing the whole place swaying back and forth to "Bennie And The Jets", sadly never see that now. Everyone was into the music back then.

I have been fortunate to have attended 44 concerts to date, upcoming I have Dublin in December, London in January and Glasgow in June.

Wow!!! Throughout the mid-'70s, John's concerts were enormously popular, until 1976 when he revealed in an interview in Rolling Stone that he was bisexual. Many fans reacted negatively to John's bisexuality, and his audience began to shrink somewhat in the late '70s. You were on the Festival Popular Music show. How he was received? What you most remember from that show?

To an amazing response, to be fair I don’t think it hurt him as much here in the UK as it did in the States.

What I remember most is Elton slowly getting drunk, giving away the piano stool and drinks to the audience, singing DGBMH himself, standing on top of the piano with a tartan scarf around his head like a bandana, and a great setlist, this was the original solo gig and was filmed for TV, this is one show that really needs to be put out officially on DVD

Really? Upps!!! Which could be a great set list, in your opinion? Is there any song that Elton hasn’t played yet, and you think that he should do it?

My 30 song set list.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
Grow Some Funk Of Your Own
Club At The End Of The Street
Elderberry Wine
Little Jeannie
Island Girl
Skyline Pigeon
The Greatest Discovery
High Flying Bird
Teacher I Need You
Indian Sunset
Ballad Of A Well Known Gun
Better Off Dead
Sweet Painted Lady
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
High Flying Bird
The North
It’s Getting Dark In Here

The Captain And The Kid
Rocket Man
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Healing Hands
Dirty Little Girl
The Bitch Is Back
Saturday Nights Alright
Pinball Wizard
We All Fall In Love Sometimes/Curtains

Would like to hear “On Dark Street” live.

Davey? Take a note!!! And you prefer the Elton’s solo tours or better with band? With the same musicians as his current band or you miss someone of the past? And what size of venues do you most prefer to see a good Elton’s show?

Having been lucky enough to have seen most combinations of tour/bands (except with Eric Clapton and Leon Russell) I don’t really have a preference, if pushed then band, as for venues I am not keen on the outdoor gigs we have had here the last few years in the UK, reasons being unpredictable weather, atmosphere (lightshow) think with these outdoor shows in the UK we have people coming along for a event, not your normal Elton concert goer from years ago, people now come to see the guy who played at Lady Diana’s funeral, he’s become an icon and rightly so, but these people come for other reasons, don’t think they come to hear a 13 minute version of "Rocket Man".

For me I would love to see Elton go back to playing the small UK venues like he did on the 1976 UK tour, 3 to 4 thousand venues and this was at the height of his popularity.

Funny thing is, look at the crowd at Dodger Stadium, everyone having a ball, that blows my outdoor gigs reasoning out the water. Mind you that was California and not Carlisle.

Right. Scottish Davey Johnstone recognizes that “I always get a great reception when I come back to Scotland”, his homeland, and even he celebrated his 2000th concert with Elton at Glasgow's SECC in 2009, after a relationship that has spanned almost 40 years. Were you at this show? And what does Davey means for you, scottish people?

Yeah, was at that show, just makes you really proud as like me he’s from Edinburgh. And of course we also used to have David Paton in the band also from Edinburgh.

David Paton, yes! What would you do if you meet Elton sometime? What would you talk about and which question would you like to ask him?

I have been fortunate to have met Elton backstage in Kilmarnock on the 26th June 2005.

I thanked him for the last 33 years (that was how long I had been a fan up till then)

Now I would ask him when’s he going to get back playing small venues and a little less greatest hits. Thing is with Eltons back catalogue he could change the whole set list and casual fans would still know the songs, "Little Jeannie", "Club At The End Of The Street", "Island Girl" etc etc, so many singles that were hits never get played live, change it around a bit to keep it fresh.

Agree!! What do you think about the new project with Leon Russell? The reviews of the album were so good but the sales disappointing, again. We could be in front of one of Elton’s hits of the century but that isn’t reflect on the music charts. Are people tired of Elton?

Interesting, as the last 3 albums I had heard most of the songs on them before they came out and was determined to not listen to anything from The Union until the day of release, and to be truthful wasn’t looking forward to it with Leon Russell, now having heard it I think it’s a good album, although it’s not in my top 10 (yet), maybe it’s me but I just don’t get some of the hype I keep reading or hearing about it, it is a grower and a few tracks I really love, and maybe a few months down the line I will have a totally different view. From the last 4 releases I prefer Songs From The West Coast.

I think Joe Public is tired of Elton album wise but they will still go to concerts to see a legend, the die hards aint and will always purchase the albums.

So what kind of place do you see for Elton John in the History of Rock Music?

I think he will be up there at the top table with the greats.

You’re a great collector, so: which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

I do like the items that I have had sent back to me signed, bottom line it’s all about the music.

What's your favorite bootleg ?

To be honest I really don’t know, don’t even know how many I have now, but it is over 800. A few of early one’s that have surfaced recently are excellent (setlist and sound wise)

Oh, we’ve got Elton in cadbury’s chocolate figure, Elton in rag, and the beatiful dolls on Elton. What could it be next?

What about Elton pasta, if it’s good enough for Mickey Mouse. LOL

Apart from music, which are your interests? What you like to do with your off time?

Football (Soccer) I follow Hibernian F.C., holidays to America.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, where I tried to find the bests of Elton’s songs ever?

Here’s my 5 below, but choosing only 5 is so hard and my list could have been 105!

We All Fall In Love Sometimes/Curtains
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
High Flying Bird
Indian Sunset
The Greatest Discovery

Special mention for Shine On Through and Sugar On The Floor

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

Although us long time fans moan about too many greatest hits at the concerts, I think we should just appreciate that he does still go out on the road.

Elton has shown in other “special” concerts that he can and will play some forgotten gems, look at the Captain Fantastic shows, the 60th Birthday show, nearly playing the whole of Peachtree Road in '04, and the latest Union tour.

Oh, once you said: “I am disgusted with some of the comments on here regarding Elt cancelling gigs, Yeah, it's the worst I have known re cancelling gigs, but do you really think Elton wants to cancel them, of course he doesn't”. People don’t have patiente enough?

Just couldn’t believe some of the comments / attitude of some people last year when he was cancelling gigs, we all get sick / have off days, he has cancelled 2 shows I was going to over the years (Leeds Castle and Glasgow) have had hotels booked flights booked, nothing you can do, the man was ill end off.

Well, thank so much Steve for being here. I am so proud of your interview and for me it was a pleasure to dedicate the day to someone like you. But please, before you go, wait a minute because I hear somebody's knocking the door. Come on, guy!!!

Hi Paul Purcell, welcome to the Steven's Day. You know Steven, right? How could you define him, as an eltonite?

"Steve is the most generous and genuine Eltonite I know. A real man for the music. I could talk to him for hours and hours and often do!" Right. Do you enjoy his interview, right? Anything to add? "He is always telling me about the olden days of being an Eltonite and how he has followed Elton through thick and thin. Once or twice over the years he has told me about him being at the solo show in Edinburgh in 1976. I think he may have mentioned also that it was the first solo show...EVER!!".

That was a great experience for you, Steven. We remember our first concert as something very special, and being in 1976 seeing Elton not everyone could tell. Thanks Paul for joinin us on Steven's Day. Anything more? "I'm delighted that he has been added to the roll of honour and has joined a very exclusive club". Yes, he deserved it and for me it was such a pleasure to learn more from him. Bye People!!!

pictures courtesy by Steven Betts

6 Nov 2010

Question 6 To The Experts Committee: Elton John & Leon Russell's The Union

Hi there!!! Welcome to a new edition of the “Comittee of experts”, the sixth this time. The comittee was created one year ago, we have 18 experts from differents countries of the world (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina). And we have new experts for the comittee, that’s amazing, we’re growing, you see, dear Rabbit, we’re not alone.

The most important: we have the album out, we have the album on the charts, a lot of reviews have been published everywhere, and we had on this blogsite a prologue with four of a kind expertises. It seems now that “The Union” impact is done, the calm is down, now it’s our turn to discuss and review the album on the comittee. Why now? Well, we’ve been listening the album more than once (for sure), we have passed the first-time listening era, so it’s time to analyze different aspects of the record.

So welcome dear experts, welcome to the new members, 7 new members this time, 2 new countries. A joy to have you all here, Jack Rabbit will try that you feel comfortable talking, discussing and arguing (not fight, althought it’s Saturday) about “The Union”.

First, a general view on the album. What do you think about “The Union”? Who’s gonna start? Ok! Ok! One by one!!!

“The Union is fabulous for me! hearing Elton in new songs is always a great and delightful moment for an Eltonite”. Welcome Daga Lakomi, from Poland, so proud to have you here. Ana Ćup, new member from Serbia, agrees: “The Union is a great album”. Thanks so much for joinin’, Ana, really joyful for the comittee to have you. Daga Lakomi has it clear: “It is amazing that every Elton's composition is truly unique. And this time with Leon, who has a very funny and original voice, Elton has done it’s magical again. Their Union is a treasure for me!”

Now it’s turn for the greatest Richard Georgeou, from US: “After listening to the tracks for the first time my initial impression is: a 5 star product from Elton, Leon, Bernie, session musicians, back up vocalists, T-Bone Burnett. A master piece in my opinion. Elton has the creative juices flowing again thanks to the inspiration of his mentor/idol Leon Russell.” Yes, Thomas Wali, from Austria: “I really like the album. I think it is at least as good as Eltons last 3 records from the 2000s ("Songs From The Westcoast", "Peachtree Road" and "The Captain and the Kid"). What makes it more special than the other three is the high quality of production and the story behind the album and how it came together”. Thanks.

“I was lucky enough to receive my CD on Monday - one day ahead of the official US release. I was - and am - so excited. Let's just say that the pre-reviews (like Rolling Stone's 5 stars) got it right! It is such an amazing collaboration!”. Ahhh, that wonderful Kimberlee Kemble, from US too, thanks for being here too, as well as Richard and Thomas, of course. Anybody else?

“I am very impressed with "The Union". The vocals sound so great. Was not sure what to expect from Elton and Leon. But they came through with flying colors.” says Patrick Mcinnis, from US, a gentleman who kindly agrees to be part of the comittee. So she did my absolutely admired Vera Rio, from Brazil: “I'm really in a state of grace! Listening to tracks from "The Union" moved me to the "oldies" when a new work by Elton left me totally enchanted! I went to sleep and woke up with the songs in my mind and that was synonymous of a great start to the day for me. Now all that atmosphere is back (thanks God !!)”.

And Rabbit and I could not forget the fantastic italian cavaliere, Beppe Bonaventura, your thoughts dear friend: “Back to the roots! (T Bone Burnett and his team forever ...). The best album of Elton since the Seventies, a fantastic production by T Bone Burnett. The work of Burnett and his musicians, on this album, is really a masterpiece, a dream for me.”

“We all know that Elton heard Leon’s music in Africa on Davids iPod and then called Leon and asked if he is ready to make an album with him, although they didn't talk to each other for 35 years. Leon accepted the offer immediately and things started rolling” explains Thomas Wali about the concept idea of this project, while adding: “That's enough said about the short history how this came together”.

But not everyone is agree, and that’s the enrichment of our comittee: we are fans, but we could discuss Elton’s projects objectively. And that’s good to see, not everyone of us has to be agree: we are a big family!!! So I would like to thank you next expert, on the comittee since the beginning, always ready to be in, and a very clever people: thanks Ana Sousa, from Brazil: “As an Elton fan for over 30 years, I’m passionate about his work. When I buy an Elton John album, it’s him that I want to hear; no one else. So, after four years without any Elton new release, a duets album is not what I was looking forward to”. Most eltonites were surprised about this project really, that’s true. “Leon Russell is a musician that before The Union was totally unknown to me, except for the his name mentioned as one of Elton’s many influences. After listening to some snippets of his performances on youtube, I must confess I couldn’t get into his style of music, performance and especially his voice. I respect Elton for having chosen to do this album with Leon, someone he respects so much as a musician, but Leon’s just not my cup of tea. Music is very personal, it’s about feelings. It’s something you cannot be talked into. You either love or hate. Obviously many may have a different opinion, but I know I’m not the only one that share this feeling about Leon Russell and The Union.” Thanks so much, Ana.

Thomas Wali has another point of view:
“We are talking about two legendary composers, singers and piano players. Both of them wrote some of the most beautiful songs in the history of modern music. And both working together formed this perfect "union" and album. Moreover we have one of the best producers, T-Bone Burnett, of this time and legendary studio musicians and also one of the best lyricists, Bernie Taupin. Also a lot of guest stars, like Brian Wilson and Neil Young worked on it”.

Ana? “Elton's fan base had never been so polarized over an upcoming Elton John album. When Elton released an album there was always this feeling of excitement and anticipation shared by all the fans. With The Union this changed dramatically. The album totally split the community up in two groups: those that love this project and those that don't!”. Thanks too. There’s several eltonites that didn’t like the album, I have to tell. But hey, we are all eltonites at last!

Now, please, Richard Georgeou, could you read us your review song by song? That’s very helpful:

“There's no Tomorrow”: “This imo is a funeral dirge after the south went down in defeat. I close my eyes and see a procession with horse drawn coffin and people walking behind it with a bleak outlook. Homes destroyed, farms burned, soldiers wounded, the south's economy crippled”

“‎$800 dollar shoes”: “It could be about both Elton and Leon. Aging star, the posters are frayed, his youth and innocense long gone. Memories of the 70's when he ruled the music world”

“Hey Ahab” is clearly about Captain Ahab chasing the elusive dream (the white whale) Moby Dick. We all reach for the stars and some settle for the clouds. Great rocker, soulful backup vocals, strong piano work, T Bone Burnett on electric guitar, lyrics by Taupin. Best rocker for Elton in 3 decades. A+”

“The Best Part of The Day”: “It’s getting sober and enjoying nature, a return to the simple life. Elton enjoys seeing daybreak rather than sleeping til late afternoon. The best things in life are free. 'We shared our crazy ways in younger days'. This sums it up for...”

“When Love Is Dying”: We are usually the last to know. Love gone wrong. However, it is better to have loved and lost love, than to have never have loved at all is my philosophy. Pining away at what could have been. This applies to both Leon, Elton, and Bernie. Plus, everyone that has lost love. A+”

“I Should Have Sent Roses”: “I hear the song covered by Elvis and Willie Nelson, 'You Were Always On My Mind'. 'Maybe I didn't love you quite as much as I should have'. This led to you leaving me. The heart is a lonely hunter. A+”

“Gone to Shiloh”: “Without question American Civil War revisited. Vocals: Elton, Leon, and Neil Young. Civil War saga as Union Soldiers descend upon the city of Shiloh, Mississippi. “Heaven help the South / When Sherman comes their way”. I love this song. Both the studio version and Elton playing it live with piano intro”.

(silence), everybody’s listening the masterclass.

“Never Too Old”: “You are never too old to fall in love, hold somebody, we are nothing without someone to love and share our life with. Brilliant song. A tear jerker. A+”

“A Dream Come True”: “A haunting melody reminds me of Elvis Presley’s ‘Mystery Train’. Leon ‘s chance at redeeming his music career with the help of Elton’s influence. The music has brought him back Gonna have some fun And the blues are through”.

“The Hands of Angels”: “This one's for Leon who cheated death before going into the studio for this project. Brain surgey and convalescense. He considers he was saved for some purpose through the hands of angels. A”.

“Hearts have turned to stone”: “Leon wrote this, about his music career nearly going unnoticed, bringing on depression, forgotten, and looking for the sun to shine on him once again. A”.

“Monkey Suit”: “I envision John Dillinger, going down south with his 3 piece suit, shooting up the banks. A great upbeat song,one of his best in many years. Another Elton and Bernie classic. A+”

“If It Wasn’t For Bad It Would Be Good”: “Written by Leon Russell, he was disillusioned by the recording company, that failed him as an artist. He was treated like some vagabond musician, lacking promotional input to keep his career on course. A”.

“Jimmie Rodgers Dream”: “Written by: Elton John, Bernie Taupin, T Bone Burnett: Now I pop a top and stay up late with Gideon / And fall asleep to visions of Meridian - drinking beer, and reading the bible, Dreaming of Meridian, MS. Life on the train, heading west, and seeing the landscape. A big blue canvas painted by the Master's hand. A”.

(everybody’s clapping). Thanks so much, Richard. Experts: Your favourite songs from the album, then?

Thomas? “I really like all of the songs on this record, but there are some I like more. I couldn't tell you which song is the best.

My favorites (in random order) are:

Mandalay Again,
The Best Part Of The Day,
If It Wasn't For Bad,
In The Hands Of Angels,
Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes,
I Should Have Sent Roses,
When Love Is Dying.

It's not easy to choose my favs, because I really like all of them. Those are the songs I listen to the most”.

Ana Sousa, it’s your turn: “From the snippets I’ve listened to, the only songs that caught my attention were “Hey Ahab” and “Monkey Suit”, that coincidentally seems to be the only up-tempo songs on the album. “I Should’ve Sent Roses” is a typical Leon Russell song. Needless to say not what I would pick as one of my choices. “Never Too Old” and “Gone to Shiloh”, performed live by Elton are fine, but way too slow in my opinion. “Never Too Old” is repetitive and for this reason gets a little boring. “Gone to Shiloh” has a beautiful melody, which gets enhanced by Elton’s fabulous deep vocals. It reminds me of Lestat, with its dark mood. The live solo version is a treat for Elton’s fans, as on the album the vocals are shared with Leon and Neil Young. I listened to Gone to Shiloh performed by Elton in Taormina, Italy, and to this day he’s still able to impress me. Against all the odds, he gets better and better with age. He's passionate, powerful. And it was a live version, unpolished, raw, as what is without any studio production on.” Thanks so much, Ana.

Daga Lakomi adds her list:
“I love every song ... but I think that the most could be "The best part of the day" now ;):) but it might change because I hear all these new songs pretty often and I love each more and more:).

Others? Patrick? “The songs I love the best are "Hey Ahab", "The Best Part Of The Day", "When Love is Dying" and "Hearts Have Turned To Stone". I believe the lyrics are so good. Nice... to hear those great Bernie lyrics still sounds so good.” Yes? “It's great to hear new music from Elton, learn the lyrics, try to discover the story behind each one.” Oh, yes, Vera Rio!!! That’s amazing! Your favourites, then? “" Hey Ahab", "Monkey Suit "," Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)", "The Hands Of Angels," "When Love is Dying," "Jimmie Rodgers 'Dream" immediately "glued" in my ears”.

Kimberlee? “There isn't a song that I don't like, but I especially like Going to Shiloh (very haunting piano line that I can't get out of my mind), Hey Ahab (classic EJ rock), Monkey Suit (fun!) and In the Hands of Angels (just beautiful). I've listened to it 3 times already - and will listen to it many more times in the coming days and weeks. I'm going to listen with headphones soon because I heard that EJ's piano is recorded on one track and Leon's on the other, and that it really comes through when you listen with headphones.” Hahahaha right!.

Beppe, yours?
“My favourite songs: “Gone To Shiloh”, “Hey Ahab”, “Hearts Have Turned to Stone”, but all the tracks are excellent. Less favourites? “The Best Part Of Day”, not a great song, without the production of Burnett, it seems a standard track from “The Big Picture””. Thanks. Yes, sorry Kimberlee, didn't see you: “I'd add "Mandalay Again" to my favorites list... I don't understand why it wasn't on the basic CD. Beautiful, beautiful song - and even my 15-year old daughter said she liked it - does that mean it could actually get airplay? I WISH!!! I really like the way that Elton's and Leon's voices blend in this song... most of the songs don't do that, they have Elton sing a verse and Leon sing a verse (which is very nice), but it's like a perfect fit on this song - their voices, their pianos, their styles... and Bernie's lyrics are amazing, too.”

And what could we say about Elton and Leon singin' together?

“Sir Elton is in good company: Leon is great, the backing vocals are wonderful (especially on "Hey Ahab" and "Monkey Suit")” starts Vera Rio. “Elton is singing better than ever on this record and Leon as well as he can. I'm one of the few Elton fans who really like Leons voice. I heard a lot of bad things about his voice from other fans, but I have to say that I love it!” continues Thomas Wali, and adds: “Eltons voice is perfect, as always. I think their voices fit and complement each other very well”. Beppe? “The mix of Elton and Leon, of the two pianos is really a surprise, Burnett is really one of the better producer of this era.” Ana? “I like many artists, different styles, like country music, but Leon's rendition/vocals, I just couldn't make them work for me”.

Thanks. Any comment about the non-involvement of any member of EJ in the studio sessions?

”It's a pity that none of the band members were involved, but it is not making the album worse” starts Thomas Wali. “If I was the producer, I would've "used" them as background vocalists or arrangers of backing vocals, as they really did an extraordinary job on earlier records and of course are still doing an AMAZING job at live concerts. I heard that they didn't know anything about what was going on at the time when Elton and Leon were in the studio, but Davey Johnstone got to listen to the whole album after the recording sessions. I think they will be playing some of the songs live on the tour together with Leon and at Elton and Band only shows”.

“The musicians are of the best quality (but I must confess that I'd love to hear Davey, Nigel, John, Bob and Kim playing and singing all these wonderful songs ... ok, I'm also a fan of the Elton's Band!)”, hahahaha thanks Vera! “I'd love to hear "When Love is Dying", "Hey Ahab" or "Best Part Of The Day" live with the band. I think that this is not unimaginably that they'll do one or two songs with Elton on tour”. Oh, who knows, Thomas?

“The band on the album is really fantastic (and live too!), Elton with these musicians is back to the top after all these years” disagrees Beppe: “Elton, please no more Johnstone on guitars! You need a real guitar player such Marc Ribot. And no more the terrible sound from electronic keyboards, the real Elton needs an acoustic sound of high level. The Beacon Theatre show was really a top act with top players, when I think to the standard Greatest Hits shows of the last years, with his old band, I have no words, only sadness”.

Oh, will be that a success?

”I don't only think that it will be a success, it is already a huge success in the USA. It stepped into Billboard 200 on #3 which is Eltons highest entry in the US-Charts since the Blue Moves album in 1976”, yes Thomas, that’s true. “I believe this is one cd that will be talked about for years to come. I will give it an A” follows Patrick McInnis, and Richard Georgeou bets: “I predict platinum record sales, a Grammy, and hopefully a follow up album from Elton and Leon. 'Thank God My Music's Still Alive'.......Bernie Taupin. Elton, and Leon are back at the pinnacle of the music world.” Hahahaha we are all expecting!

How well is received the album in your country?

Italy? “In Italy, great reviews about the album, and I hope a good place in the charts in the next days”. Thanks Beppe. Austria? “I heard and saw a lot of news in the radio and also in the TV and read some good articles and reviews in magazines and newspapers in Austria on "The Union", but it is not in the album charts yet. I hope that it will be very soon”. Yes, it is, recently it is. Brazil? “Here where I live the radios still aren't playing the new songs (but I'm working for this to happen soon! I'll send requests via web, of course!)”. Hahahaha, great Vera Rio.

“I live in southern Serbia, Kosovo province, I suppose you have heard of Kosovo”, yes Ana Ćup. “Everything related of Elton's new album, I gonna know it in mid-November, then I gonna go to Belgrade to buy the album. The only thing I know, a friend has informed me, is that the album just arrived in my country. Finally :o) I hope people will buy it. LOL It is strange of Elton's new album can be bought only in the Serbian capital Belgrade.” Oh, that’s sad, Ana, but you will have your album, sure!

Well, dear experts, we’re finishing. Thanks so much for your knowledge, your interest and your collaboration. Rabbit and me are extremely happy you joined to our list of experts. 26 now, is it right, Rabbit? Oh, no dear, not you,you’re not an expert ;-) How could we conclude everything we chat on? Your rates, Beppe?

“The album 8,5/10
Elton & Leon 9/10
The tracks 8/10
The production 10/10
The band 9,5/10”

“There's a smell of masterpiece in the air (the same feeling that I had when I heard "The Captain Fantastic ..." for the first time). My note for "The Union"? Of course, could only be 10! And with praise”. Thanks Vera Rio, agree with you.

“Anyway, a long-winded way of saying the album is FANTASTIC!!! And I really can't wait now until I go see Elton and Leon on November 20th and 21st!” oh, great Kimberlee.

Daga? “I would like to say THANK YOU Elton and Leon!!! You have done a wonderful job!!! I ask Elton for another new Album;) I want new songs haha”

Hahahahaha. I would love to announce you a new fan site, from Serbia. Ana Ćup has done a great job and needs all of our support. Right, Ana? “I have the fan page in order to collect as many members as I can and thus show the organizers of concerts in my country that Serbia is interested in another Elton's concert.”. Go for Serbia!!!!

Bye experts, since other time. Jack Rabbit would like to thank efusively and enthusiastically the collaboration of ours experts. Six reunions with this, and growing more and more. Eltonites’ voice must be heard! I am devoted to all of you:

The master expertises: Claude Bernardin, George Matlock, Liz Rosenthal, Jim Turano.

Experts: Midnight creeper (UK), Stephan Heimbecher (GE), Thomas Wali (AT), Paul Purcell (IR), Andrea Grasso, Beppe Bonaventura & Giorgio Aquilani (IT), Wim Greven (Holland), Ulrick Garde (DK), Anna Montras (SP), Patrick Andrey (SW), Laurent Bonnore (FR), Daga Lakomi (PL), Ana Ćup (SE), Richard Antoine & Shea Forster-Helms (CA), Richard Georgeou, Patrick McInnis, Jack Suslak, Missy Gyms & Karen Rooney (US), Silvines Palmer & Isabel González (AR), Kissybissy, Vera Rio & Your Song (BR), Patty Perrin (MX).

If other eltonites are interested in being part of the comittee, or wanted that their country must be heard, just mail me. Eltonites around the world, join us: without you, me and Rabbit are nothing.