Good Morning to the Night

Pnau / Elton John

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Good Morning to the Night Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The quality of his records may fluctuate over the decades, but there has never been any doubt that Elton John retains a keen ear for fashionable pop. So it is no surprise that he handed over tapes from his purple patch of the early '70s -- roughly Elton John through Blue Moves -- to the Australian dance duo Pnau, giving them full reign to sample, interpolate, splice and dice familiar tunes into new dance tracks. Such constructions are certainly not uncommon, but they're usually not endorsed by the artist, and certainly whenever they are, they're not as imaginative as Good Morning to the Night. Pnau never pledge allegiance to John's melodies, and they cherry-pick lyrics from Bernie Taupin, choosing them based on the criteria of Elton's phrasing, not Bernie's imagery. Similarly, some familiar piano and guitar lines can be heard throughout, but never as full-blooded, recognizable riffs; they're distant echoes of the original. Pnau cleverly evoke some of the spirit of Elton's disco but it's seen through the prism of the retro-disco that pervades certain elements of modern dance-pop. Nor do Pnau rely solely on glittery, satin-draped pop -- they also dip their toes into chilly meditative waters, giving this brief nine-track collection some nice moments of reflection. That Good Morning to the Night is not a hits-on-parade set -- a criticism that can even be laid at the feet of such acts as Girl Talk, let alone such mash-up albums as Beatles Love -- is a relief, and even if it's not necessarily the kind of music that would make it into regular rotation, it's inventive and fun, which is more than enough for a project like this.

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