Various Artists

Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

One of two albums released as a celebration of the 50-plus years of collaboration between Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Revamp: The Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin was spearheaded by the singer, who hand-picked the artists on this pop-oriented tribute. John did take pains to cast a wide net. In addition to arena rockers Coldplay and the Killers, there's the modern folk of Mumford & Sons, contemporary R&B from Mary J. Blige and Alessia Cara, hip-hop from Logic and Q-Tip, diva moves from Sam Smith and Lady Gaga, darkly seductive hard rock from Queens of the Stone Age, and operatic pop from Florence + the Machine. Plus, Ed Sheeran showed up for good measure. Given this, it's a bit of a shock that Revamp sounds as homogenous as it does. After beginning with a neon-lit remake of "Bennie & the Jets" from P!nk and Logic -- goofy, but endearing -- Revamp sinks into somnolence with Coldplay's monochromatic reading of "We All Fall in Love Sometimes," and the album never quite recovers. Cara rallies with "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," Miley Cyrus offers a nicely modulated version of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Q-Tip & Demi Lovato embrace the silliness of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," and QOTSA end proceedings on an alluring note with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," but these are surrounded by tracks that are so slickly produced, they not only sound like glass, but they're nearly indistinguishable from each other. Taken on its own terms, Revamp is dull, but its companion album Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin -- a modern country tribute that takes chances -- reveals what a missed opportunity this is.

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