On his latest LP Out of the Game, Rufus Wainwright has teamed up with producer-extraordinaire Mark Ronson (he of Amy Winehouse fame) and the result is nothing short of fantastic. For years Wainwright, with his mournful pitch perfect warble, seemed like he had gotten the short shift with his producers, his voice too reedy on some recordings, too produced others. Ronson too had struggled to make an identifiable mark after his homage to 60’s soul with Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black. The strut is back in both of their steps here as Ronson gives plenty of space for Wainwrights voice to soar and bend in “Out of the Game” while the production flourishes; from the 70’s era Bunsen-burner guitar to David Bowie-esque arranged backing vocals fit perfectly. Also be sure to check out “Jericho”, a tour de force of an arrangement that wouldn’t have been out of place on an Elton John album.
Elton John owned 70’s music, easily the highest selling artist of that decade and the man behind such hits as “Bennie and the Jets”, “Crocodile Rock” “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” to name a few. Lost in the shuffle however was his most challenging and gorgeous early effort, the concept album Tumbleweed Connection released in 1970, which profiled the myths of the American west. Perhaps the finest gem of the bunch is “Love Song” which finds John only backed by some breathtaking harmonies and lovely guitar playing. I’ve also decided to include “Burn Down the Mission” another epic off of Tumbleweed Connection as well as a fine cover of The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” from his underrated 11-17-70 live album.