Side one is as good as side two is as bad. The contrast couldn't be any more marked...the opening track as gritty an influx as you could want while the outro is as sappy you could not want. Two key men on this album, Steve Lukather who turned down the opportunity to join the EJ band during these sessions and James Newton Howard. Lukather's guitar work is funky with a nice fluidity. JNH's work on Sartorial Eloquence is stunning, the mix of the very deep parts and the high end is orchestral. Only an arranger of his touch and feel could do bring the best out of the synth's. Plus his use of electric pianos makes wonderful counterpoint to Elton, the next album having a track that showcases the possibilities of the instrumental album that they nearly created at this time. The rhythm section binds well together, Alvin Taylor's big sounding drums just come out of the speakers with a fatness that isn't overweight, overwrought or overstays. Then we get the contrast with Nigel on Little Jeannie, his delicate touch's and fills just what was needed on the track. Not surprising the original drum part was wiped. The distinctive brass arrangement is the hook on this one, the parts on the chorus demonstrate this fully. Bernie's lyrics on side one are very personal. Two Rooms being a musical explanation of what he and Elton are all about. The drum lines on this are incredible. The broken rhythms with the incredible brass arrangement behind it are powerful in tandem. White Lady, White Powder is again another insightful lyric, the fact may be inferred that Elton is singing in the third person but as well know it's autobiographical. Elton can never detach himself from any of Bernie's lyrics even when they have nothing to do with him, he always finds the method to make them seem as if they originated from him. But no need on this occasion.
The 21 At 33 sessions recording wise are probably the most productive since GYBR...but no where near in quality terms. The double album scenario quickly vanished as more filler than a Polyfilla delivery began to emerge. But in saying that some of the best tracks were left off it... David Geffen...or the bearded 'bee' as he was called once...seems to have spent more time in court with his artists over the years than the recording studio. And when he was mulling over his roster, he had a peculiar way of doing it. The 21 At 33 album was to be released on MCA before Elton moved to Geffen. But for some odd reason it was Geffen who decided what MCA should or shouldn't have. So the disc was reduced in size, the leftover tracks appearing on The Fox, by which time MCA had bailed out early. And the rest turning up on various b-side combinations.
I wish we had the original running order for the double album version of 21 At 33. It would have been interesting to see would that era of Elton be seen in a different light than it is now had it been released in that format. Though a double album seemed pretty ambitious, maybe there would have been too much filler. As I suggested earlier, side 1 of 21 At 33 is as good as anything at anytime that Elton has done...I'd have put those tracks with these tracks that were recorded duing the same sessions and made one great single disc. The running order is open to discussion...
Chasing The Crown
Two Rooms At The End Of The World
White Lady, White Powder
Heart In The Right Place
White Man Danger
White Man Danger