Album per diem: Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night

It’s an exciting day here at Album per diem headquarters. My assistant has been running around the office all day just full of excitement. My dog has been running around the living room because somewhere in puppy soul he knows it’s the first time we are going to dive into a brand new album on Album per diem. Released today and featured is the 32nd studio album from the one and only Sir Elton John.

Wonderful Crazy Night is the name of the album and since it’s our first brand new album we are going deluxe. The standard edition of this album has 10 songs, the deluxe has 12 and there’s also a super deluxe edition that has 14 songs. All the songs were written and composed by Sir John and his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin.

  1. Wonderful Crazy Night – Right off the bat it sounds like some nice old school Elton. The piano throughout the song is phenomenal which is no shock for an Elton album. When I first heard the title, I thought Christmas for some reason. It sounds like a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie title, but it was a nice little soft rock song.
  2. In The Name of You – It’s not a dark song, but it has a darker sound to it which is something I really dig. What I think must be an electric organ and the electric guitar play off each other really nice to make this cool sound. Another love song, another solid rock song.
  3. Claw Hammer – It has a very musical feel to it. John is describing someone’s flaws, basically, and it just feels like the high amount of personal description found in a song in a musical. It works.
  4. Blue Wonderful – A beautifully written song, but I’m a sucker for the color blue. A simple little love song, but so damn lovely. Seriously, there’s nothing real special about it, but I really dig it.
  5. I’ve Got 2 Wings – Elton John meets Bruce Springsteen in this song. The song tells the story of Utah Smith who was a religious man who went around and played music in the name of the lord. He had paper wings at the time when saving these people, but now he has real wings as Utah is dead. Sorry, there was no poetic way of really saying that so bluntly. It’s a nice story song.
  6. A Good Heart – Another love song. Another solid song. The horns in this song can be very subtle at times, but they bring a nice texture to it.
  7. Looking Up – The song has the feel of a 1990’s country song that had the rock feel that Garth Brooks brought into the genre. That’s a good thing, in my world anyway. It’s nice and bouncy. It has a very uplifting sound to it which is good since it’s about looking up in life. It’s a combination of rock, country and Elton John which brings no complaints from me.
  8. Guilty Pleasure – Maybe I just have Springsteen on the mind, I usually do, but this song would sound fantastic on his The River A rocker about am I a love or just some guilty pleasure which is an excellent take on the term guilty pleasure. The term is popular, but doesn’t really get used this way enough in popular music. The rocking track ends in a nice little out-of-the-blue piano solo which is nice, but almost feels like a song within itself. It really has nothing to do with the track other than being tacked on at the end..
  9. Tambourine – Another love song! Yes a song with the title of Tambourine is a love song. The tambourine is a metaphor and a darn good one at that. Basically, the singer is so in love they feel like a smacked tambourine when they see their loved. It’s full of other great metaphors, too. It’s metaphor city and it cleverly ends with the shaking of a…. tambourine.
  10. The Open Chord – Do you think this album is full of love songs? I do. This one the metaphor is an open chord that the singer is going to play all day which will take away all his sins. It’s a good little love song, I just can only take so many.
  11. Free And Easy – The song sounds like freedom. It just feels like strolling through a park. It feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. It’s amazing how musicians can match the feeling of the lyrics with the right music and Elton does that throughout the album.
  12. England and America – I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a song before in my life that has been patriotic for two countries at the same time, but Elton John just did that in this song. He loves England and America and we’ll always love him (I have given myself the right to speak for all of America and England). It’s a good bonus track. The song isn’t horrible, but it feels like a bonus track.

If you like Elton John this is no real departure for him. It’s a nice sounding album despite his range being probably two octaves lower than his prime. He still sings well, just not real high. If you are a fan of love songs, it is that time of year, this album also has a lot of them, probably one or two too many for my tastes.

If I had to pick one, I’d go with Guilty Pleasure. Blue Wonderful is also up there for me.

Next up: Neil Diamond – Tennessee Moon

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Album per diem: Queen – Innuendo

I’m a big fan of Queen. Queen was the first that I was fully exposed to that was outside of the realm of country music. I love my country music, but Queen taught me that there is a whole lot more out there than just the single genre.

Innuendo was released on February 4, 1991 in the United Kingdom and the next day in the United States. It was the last album the band put out while lead singer Freddie Mercury was still alive. That theme rises to prominence throughout some of the tracks.

  1. Innuendo – Queen is probably best known for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which is simply the best rock opera out there. They go back to that kind of formula for the title track and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not ‘Rhapsody’, but how many bands could really pull this kind of thing off twice?
  2. I’m Going Slightly Mad – This is one of my all-time favorite Queen songs, probably because I am slightly mad. The instrumentation gives it this dark and haunting feel of going mad, plus the description of how he is mad (one wave short of a ship wreck, one card short of a full deck, knitting with only one needle) is just absolute brilliancy.
  3. Headlong – Rock and roll at its finest. It’s a little heavy, but fast-paced with Brian May absolutely killing it, as usual, on the guitar. This song is a hardcore rock song that also has “Hoop diddy diddy – hoop diddy do” in the lyrics. That’s how freaking great Queen is.
  4. I Can’t Live With You – If the Rolling Stones got really experimental, this is what they would try to sound like. A solid rock and roll love song that is really catchy. It’s the weakest track so far and I still love it.
  5. Don’t Try So Hard – Freddie was denying that he was sick, but we now know he was already fighting AIDS when the band was making this album. It truly comes off as one of those songs that comes from someone who knows their time is almost up. It’s a good message, don’t try so hard, just be you.
  6. Ride The Wild Wind – It’s the same as ‘Don’t Try So Hard’, but while trying to be squeezed into a real commercial feeling rock song. It doesn’t have the same emotion. For some bands this would probably be groundbreaking, but we hold Queen to a higher standard.
  7. All God’s People – Might be the weirdest religious song I’ve ever heard. It has a little reggae feel to it. Give freely we are all God’s people which is a good message, but, even as a Queen lover, it’s one of those weird sounding Queen songs. It doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not the best either.
  8. These Are The Days Of Our Lives – Roger Taylor did a much better job writing this song that ‘Ride The Wild Wind’. It’s a retrospective song again, but it’s a slow meaningful one. The bongo drums on it are a nice little touch. And no this song doesn’t have anything to do with the soap opera The Days Of Our Lives.
  9. Delilah – I looked it up. It’s a song about Mercury’s damn cat. His favorite cat, but still it’s a song about a cat. I love Queen, but they just made me listen to a song about a cat. What the hell. I mean the ‘meow, meow, meow’ lines might’ve given it away, but I thought maybe I was just missing a really big metaphor. Nope. It’s a song about a cat.
  10. The Hitman – This sounds like a hit for Guns ‘N Roses. I like the sound. It’s quite the rocker, nothing too critically to acclaim about it other than the rock sound. A song about a hitman is kind of a rare treat that was pulled off fairly nicely here.
  11. Bijou – The Wikipedia article for the album describes this song as an inside out song which is the perfect description for it. It’s a guitar expect for a break where Mercury sings a total of 31 words. The rest is just plain and simple beautiful guitar playing by Brian May. May is one of the best guitarists in the history of the world, so you know this track is good.
  12. The Show Must Go On – When Queen knocks it out of the park, they hit the ball into the next county. This song is the last track on the last album that Queen released while Freddie Mercury was still alive. It’s a pretty powerful statement to go out on. ‘The Show Must Go On’ and it did with Mercury continuing to record up through the end which resulted in the final Queen studio album Made In Heaven.

It’s a Queen album, so it’s automatically going to be solid and that’s what it is. The band knocks a couple songs out of the park and some just are kind of there and not their best work. If you’re a fan of Queen and rock and roll, you’ll enjoy this album. The ones that aren’t even that great are still fun to listen to.

It’s hard to pick one song, but after listening to it again, you have to go with The Show Must Go On if you can only have one. If you can splurge also get I’m Going Slightly Mad and then Headlong. At this rate, just get the album.

Next up: Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night (it’s release day!)