Feb 092012

Has anyone caught the Cameron Crowe-directed documentary on the Elton John–Leon Russell collaboration that premiered on HBO last week?

I am an unabashed big fan of Leon Russell. I think his early ‘70s albums were as good as it gets. (An early RTH thread on best string of albums probably didn’t mention Leon Russell, Shelter People, Asylum Choir II, and Carney but should have.)

I always liked Elton John’s early hits and had his first two albums. He’s also an artist that I have grown to like more and more as time passes. Back about a half-dozen years ago I bought all the early albums when they had the reissues cheap at the BMG club and was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked them.

So, not unsurprisingly, I greatly looked forward to The Union, the Elton-Leon collaboration that came out in late 2010. And if it wasn’t as great as I wished it might have been, it was a lot better than I feared it might be – and that’s not as much damning with faint praise as it sounds.

I greatly enjoyed this documentary. It’s really Elton’s show but then so was the collaboration. The backstory, for those who need it, is that Russell was a great inspiration and hero for Elton way back when. They hadn’t been in contact for decades and somewhere along the way Elton became aware of Russell’s circumstances—Russell’s apparently pretty much broke, playing small clubs, health issues—and Elton wanted to get him the recognition he (John) feels he (Russell) deserves.

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