Elton John, The One

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 09.24.12 in Reviews

The One

Elton John

In 1990, “Sacrifice” from 1989′s Sleeping with the Past somehow became more popular in the UK than any of Elton’s feted ’70s hits. This breakup ballad set a dusky tone for his ’90s output starting with 1992′s The One, his first since undergoing treatment for multiple addictions.

Setting the dusky tone for his ’90s output

It’s also the first since the breakup of Bernie Taupin’s second marriage, and it was dedicated to Vance Buck, a former lover and lasting friend of Elton’s who died of AIDS a few days after its release. Sung from the perspective of a dying gay man who unexpectedly reconciles with his previously rejecting father, “The Last Song” is this album’s unqualified knockout.

The other songs are considerably longer and slicker to lesser effect, but there’s the sense that everyone involved is now striving for something of substance. There’s less mush, but also fewer hooks: The chorus of “On Dark Street” — a refinement of Sleeping with the Past‘s R&B nostalgia — is the one catchy bit.