Apparently, if you ask Elton John to provide songs for the soundtrack to your movie, you'll get more than you bargained for. In this case, much more. Only 5 of the 11 tracks are used in this animated film about 2 swindlers searching for gold in 16th-century Spain, meaning 6 bonus cuts are featured here. John again collaborated with lyricist Tim Rice, who worked on last year's Aida and 1994's Lion King. There are the trademark piano ballads ("Friends Never Say Goodbye," "Queen of Cities") and uptempo piano rockers ("16th Century Man"), but many of the tracks feature island rhythms and some unusually futuristic effects ("Trust Me"). One particular highlight is a humorous duet with Randy Newman on "It's Tough to Be a God." Three additional cuts from the movie's score by Hans Zimmer and John Powell finish the album with cinematic flair. --Rob O'Connor
The negative comments of other customers are quite amazing, particularly those which suggest that "real" fans should steer clear of this album. To my mind, as a "real" fan for nearly twenty years, this is certainly one of Elton's best albums, especially in the last 10 - 12 years. Patrick Leonard has done a great job of elevating Elton's voice and piano to the front of the mix, a production value lost by Chris Thomas, whose overblown drum and synth work has dogged good songs since 1992. Best tracks on here include "Eldorado", the first single "Someday Out of the Blue", "Queen of Cities" and the brilliant "Friends Never Say Goodbye" which features the Backstreet Boys on uncredited backing vocals. I judge a new Elton album by how long it stays in my CD player before I revert to older material. This one has been there since release day, and shows no signs of leaving. The songs fit together very well, and Elton is obviously enjoying the experience of writing to Tim Rice's lyrics. I can honestly say there isn't any track on here that shouldn't be. Amazon should include this as an essential recording by Elton John - a return to the form he reached with 1995's "Made in England". I look forward to the next John/Taupin album, which Patrick Leonard is producing - they are back in the studio in September.
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