The Union (Elton John and Leon Russell album)

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For the documentary film about the album, see The Union (2011 film).
The Union
TU cover.jpg
Studio album by Elton John and Leon Russell
Released 19 October 2010 (US)
27 October 2010 (UK)
Recorded November 20 2009 – March 2010 at The Village, Los Angeles, California
Genre
Length 63:12 (Standard album)
66:28 (iTunes deluxe LP)
71:22 (Deluxe CD and vinyl)
Label Decca (US)
Mercury (UK)
Producer T Bone Burnett
Elton John chronology
Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits
(2007)
The Union
(2010)
Gnomeo & Juliet Soundtrack
(2011)
Leon Russell chronology
Angel in Disguise
(2006)
The Union
(2010)

The Union is a collaboration studio album by singer-songwriters Elton John and Leon Russell, released on 19 October 2010 in the US and on 25 October in the UK. This is the 30th studio album by John and the 34th by Russell. This is the first studio release by John since 1979's Victim of Love without any of his regular band members. It is also his highest charting studio album on the Billboard 200 since 1976's Blue Moves, debuting at No. 3, as well as Russell's highest charting studio album since 1972's Carney. The Union was No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 30 Best Albums of 2010.[1]

The album features appearances by Booker T. Jones (on Hammond B-3), Neil Young (vocals), Robert Randolph (pedal steel), and Brian Wilson (vocal harmonies). This album was dedicated to Guy Babylon, John's keyboard player who died a year before its release.

"If It Wasn't for Bad" was nominated for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and "Hey Ahab" became a staple in John's concert tours.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "If It Wasn't for Bad" Leon Russell 3:43
2. "Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes" Elton John, Bernie Taupin 3:23
3. "Hey Ahab" John, Taupin 5:39
4. "Gone to Shiloh" (Featuring Neil Young) John, Taupin 4:50
5. "Hearts Have Turned to Stone" (Moved to twelfth track on some CD copies) Russell 3:47
6. "Jimmie Rodgers' Dream" John, Taupin, T Bone Burnett 3:42
7. "There's No Tomorrow" John, Russell, Burnett, James Timothy Shaw 3:45
8. "Monkey Suit" John, Taupin 4:46
9. "The Best Part of the Day" John, Taupin 4:45
10. "A Dream Come True" John, Russell 5:07
11. "I Should Have Sent Roses" Russell, Taupin 5:21
12. "When Love Is Dying" John, Taupin 4:51
13. "My Kind of Hell" (Bonus track on iTunes Digital Deluxe LP, Deluxe CD and vinyl only) John, Taupin 3:16
14. "Mandalay Again" (Bonus track on Deluxe CD and vinyl only) John, Taupin 4:54
15. "Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)" John, Taupin 4:58
16. "In the Hands of Angels" Russell 4:43

Personnel[edit]

  • Elton John: vocals (1-15), piano (2-4, 6-15)
  • Leon Russell: piano, vocals; BGV arrangement (1, 5, 7, 10, 16)
  • Jim Keltner: drums & percussion (1-9, 11-15)
  • Jay Bellerose: drums & percussion (1-15)
  • Mike Piersante: tambourine (3, 8), percussion (11)
  • Debra Dobkin: beaded gourd (6)
  • Mike Ford: percussion (11)
  • Dennis Crouch: acoustic bass (1-4, 6-10, 12-15)
  • Don Was: bass (5, 11)
  • Davey Faragher: bass (5)
  • Drew Lambert: electric bass (16)
  • Marc Ribot: guitar (1-4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13-15), acoustic guitar (8)
  • T Bone Burnett: electric guitar (3, 6, 12)
  • Doyle Bramhall II: guitar (5, 11)
  • Robert Randolph: pedal steel (7)
  • Russ Pahl: pedal steel (6)
  • Booker T. Jones: Hammond B-3 organ (1, 5, 9, 11)
  • Keefus Ciancia: keyboards (1-15)
  • Marty Grebb: keyboards (7, 16)
  • Jason Wormer: dulcimer (4), percussion (11)
  • Darrell Leonard: trumpet (1, 4, 5, 8, 11, 13), bass trumpet (1, 11, 13), horn arrangements & conductor (1, 4, 5, 8, 11, 13)
  • Ira Nepus: trombone (1, 4, 11)
  • Maurice Spears: trombone (1, 4, 11)
  • George Bohanon: trombone (1, 4, 11), baritone (1, 4, 11)
  • William Roper: tuba (1, 4, 11)
  • Thomas Peterson: saxophone (5, 8, 11, 13)
  • Joseph Sublett: saxophone (5, 8, 11, 13)
  • Jim Thompson: saxophone (5, 8, 11, 13)
  • Bill Maxwell: BGV conductor (1-3, 5-10, 12-16), BGV arrangement (2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 12-15)
  • Brian Wilson: backing vocals & BGV arrangement on "When Love Is Dying"
  • Neil Young: vocals on "Gone to Shiloh"
  • Rose Stone: backing vocals (1, 3, 8, 10, 12, 16), tambourine (10)
  • Tanya Balam: backing vocals (3, 8, 16)
  • Bill Cantos: backing vocals (2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 12-16)
  • Judith Hill: backing vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 16)
  • Kellyie Huff: backing vocals (3, 8, 16)
  • Perry Morgan: backing vocals (3, 8, 16)
  • Lou Pardini: backing vocals (2, 6, 9, 12, 15)
  • Jason Scheff: backing vocals (2, 6, 9, 12, 15)
  • Tiffany Smith: backing vocals (3, 8, 16
  • Alfie Silas-Durio: backing vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12-16)
  • Tata Vega: backing vocals (1-3, 5-10, 12-16)
  • Jean Witherspoon: backing vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 16)

Production[edit]

  • Produced by T-Bone Burnett
  • Executive Producers: Elton John and Johnny Barbis.
  • Production Coordination: Adrian Collee, Jon Howard and Ivy Skoff.
  • Recorded by Mike Piersante and Jason Wormer.
  • Assistant Engineers: Ben McAmis, Kyle Ford, Mark Lambert, Brett Lind, Chris Owens, Kory Aaron and Vanessa Parr.
  • Recorded at Quad Studios (Nashville) and The Village Recorder (Los Angeles).
  • Mixed by Mike Piersante at The Village Recorder.
  • Edited by Jason Wormer
  • Mastered by Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering (Los Angeles, CA).
  • Guitar Technician: Paul Ackling
  • Transcription by John Eidsvoog and Julie Eidsvoog.
  • Design: Peacock
  • Photography: Frank W. Ockenfels 3, Joseph Guay, Annie Leibovitz and Steve Todoroff.
  • Management (Elton John): Rocket Music Management.
  • Management (Leon Russell): Johnny Barbis.
  • Management (T-Bone Burnett): Larry Jenkins, assisted by Jessica C. Mitchell.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 76/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[3]
Clash 8/10 stars[4]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[5]
Contactmusic.com 4/5 stars[6]
Daily Mirror 4/5 stars[7]
Financial Times 4/5 stars[8]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[9]
The Independent 5/5 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[11]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[12]
Uncut 4/5 stars

The Union received mostly positive reviews with critics praising it as some of the pair's best work to date. It reached No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 30 Best Albums of 2010.[13]

Charts[edit]

Chart Peak
Australia 28
Austria 28
Belgium (Fl.) 66
Brazil 7
Canada 7
Croatia 46
Denmark 15
Europe 19
France 51
Germany 23
Greece 61
Ireland 52
Israel 5
Italy 28
Netherlands 60
New Zealand 24
Norway 5
Russia 15
Spain 30
Sweden 24
Switzerland 27
UK 12
US Billboard 200 3

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2011 "If It Wasn't for Bad" Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals[14] Nominated

Certifications[edit]

Country Provider Certification
United Kingdom BPI Silver (60,000)
Canada CRIA Gold (40,000)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 30 Best Albums of 2010". Rolling Stone (25 December 2010). Retrieved 18 January 2011
  2. ^ "Critic Reviews for The Union". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  3. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2010-10-19). "The Union - Elton John,Leon Russell | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Elton John And Leon Russell – The Union | Clash Music Latest Album Review". Clashmusic.com. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Album Review: Elton John and Leon Russell – The Union « Consequence of Sound". Consequenceofsound.net. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Elton John – The Union (feat Leon Russell) Album Review". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union: Album review". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "/ Arts / Music – Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union". Ft.com. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Alexis Petridis (21 October 2010). "Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union – review | Music". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Album: Elton John & Leon Russell, Union (Mercury) – Reviews, Music". London: The Independent. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Album review: Elton John and Leon Russell's 'The Union' | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. 19 October 2010. p. m. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  12. ^ David Fricke (2010-10-12). "The Union | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  13. ^ "30 Best Albums of 2010: Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "GRAMMY Rewind: 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards". articles.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. 5 January 1996. Retrieved 24 January 2013.