Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Spectacle: Music lover's delight

Ok, the music geek love fest Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... premiered with Elton John and there was a ton of great music discussion. Leon Russell, Laura Nyro and David Ackles were great artists championed by Elton, and so of course, that's what we'll have cued up the next day to listen as we work. For instance, I did not know that Laura Nyro's Gonna Take a Miracle was backed by LaBelle... now that album moves up my must hear list.

The story of Nyro at the Monterey Pop Festival in '67, along with several nods to Carol King, remind me again that I need to get my act together on a post about a recent good read of mine, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation, where Nyro gets mention as well. But that's for another post.

For those keeping score at home, here's the songs that we heard in this episode:

Playlist: Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... - Episode 1.01 "Elton John"
1. "Border Song" - Elton John - sung by Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
2. "Delta Lady" - Leon Russell - live clip
3. "Wedding Bell Blues" - Laura Nyro - live clip from Monterey Pop Festival
4. "Burn Down the Mission" - Elton John - demonstrating Nyro influence
5. "Sitting in the Park" - Billy Stewart
6. "Working in the Coal Mine" - Lee Dorsey - sung by Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
7. "Amoreena" - Elton John - talking about songwriting with Bernie Taupin
8. "Road to Cairo" - David Ackles - clip
9. "A Song for You" - Leon Russell
10. "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word" - Ray Charles with Elton John
11. "Down River" - David Ackles - sung by Elton John and Elvis Costello
12. "Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun" - Elton John - sung by Elvis Costello (credits)


Jiff said...

Thanks for the songs recap. I enjoyed it. Didn't really need Elvis, as Elton made his own way. Wish Elvis didn't interrupt a couple times. Elton was sure more interesting than the last interview I saw many years ago, a late-night talk show where whatever he was on dulled his wit. I liked all the name dropping and Elton could have gone on for hours, and I would have gladly listened.

Enjoyed Burn Down The Mission and him referencing it to Laura Nyro, and his Leon Russell imitation and accolades and anecdotes. Talking about Taupin and the gender lyric change when Elton came-out.

I nodded when he said something like "there was so much more good music in the 60s and 70s than now. I could buy many good albums every week. But there are some great musicians now, like Rufus Wainwright and Ron Sexsmith, but you won't hear him on the radio."

Good to see a talk show by a musician with musician guests. Lord knows there are enough talk shows for actors. There was Crook & Chase on TNN but they weren't musicians, and Sessions At W 54th with David Byrne. Thankfully Costello's questioning is more coherent than his.

Can't say much for Elton and Elvis' vocal coherence on Down River. Glad they featured 3 Tumbleweed Connection songs, my favorite of his.

drake lelane said...

It's hard with this one, because Elton is also executive producer of the show, so in the interview portion, we forget that it's Elvis' show and Elton is his guest as John kind of takes over. As a result, I think, it appears that Costello is interrupting, but what he's trying to do is steer the show to cover the points in the outline he has for that episode.

Elton owned this one because he sort of owns the show (and can be long-winded,) while next week Elvis has the opposite problem with Lou Reed, who needs to be prodded a bit to speak. It's not until the fourth installment (Pres. Clinton is the third, who again is hard to steer) before Costello really has the format down, with James Taylor.

Spectacle reminds me the most of the show Night Music which, to me, was the greatest show on television. Spectacle takes the best parts of that show (the surprising mix of great and obscure musicians) and adds the element of actual music discussion, making it potentially an even better show. Time will tell.

Michele said...

The clip of Laura Nyro is from the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, not from Montreux. If you want to know more about Nyro, check out my blog at

drake lelane said...

Michelle, not sure who you're trying to correct, but there's no mention of Montreux here, except in your comment.

I like your blog, so I'll forgive the transgression ;)

Michele said...

It's #3 on the playlist, Drake. And I'm glad you like my blog--I like yours, too!

drake lelane said...

Ah, I was about the content of the blog, where I talk about her perception of Monterey specifically. The notes below are a typo, thanks in part to a post I'm writing with a Johnny Cash live at Montreux special (on Ovation) for next week.

Corrected now.