In 1994, Elton released his ridiculously popular soundtrack to The Lion King, which, in the US, eventually outsold all but his first greatest hits album. That spectacular success affirmed the piano man’s status as the world’s most family-friendly gay celebrity.
Recorded in London at George Martin’s AIR Studios, this 1995 disc was his well timed, credibility-rebuilding Britpop statement. Elton’s dramatic ballads are now decidedly less forced: k.d. lang producer Greg Penny may be American, but he and returning string maestro Paul Buckmaster surround the singer in recognizably Anglo arrangements: Davey Johnstone’s Beatles-y guitars offer a welcome antidote for the treacle tones of John’s then-inescapable Disney smash “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” The brash and refreshingly rockin’ title track is even more critical of its subject than Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”