This Day in History|1867
We can now see Russia from Sarah Palin's backyard.
Orange. Does a body good.
When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.
This blog is rated NC-17. Really.
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Caribou is not wearying in the same way as would be an album whose makers were bored with their work. Caribou is dispiriting because it "logically" extends Elton's weak strengths and strong weaknesses, the superficial powers that have taken him so far. The thin roots that kept him in touch with an organically nourishing topsoil have been sundered and at last he's on his own, fulfilling his weird hybrid nature in a self-designed hothouse where nothing but lurid display is valued.
Nearly every song on Caribou suffers from a blithe lack of focus, an almost arrogant disregard of the need to establish context or purpose. It's as if Elton and his band are so convinced of their own inherent inspiration they no longer feel the need to establish coherent moods. Shifting from sentimental to heavy to mocking, they not only fail to touch all bases but undercut what credence they might possibly have achieved.
From the first track the album displays a strange overkill which simultaneously introduces many production elements and then buries them under one another. The opener, "The Bitch Is Back," is the slickest and strongest cut on Caribou, but it lacks real punch. The combined forces of Clydie & Sherlie & Jessie & Dusty and the Tower Of Power horn section fail to get this putdown-celebration of a certain sort of social pariah-piranha off the ground. And from there, it's all downhill.
"Pinky" is a love song set to a jerky syncopated melody, an ungainly tune that easily wins its battle against the words.
"Grimsby," with tripping tempo and ricky-tik riffs, may or may not be a comic song, but the overall feel is flaccid.
"Dixie Lily," a tribute to a riverboat sung by a citizen of the swamps, achieves a level of cultural assimilation comparable to that reached by "Bobbies on bicycles two by two."
"Solar Prestige a Gammon," an Italianate nonsense song, demonstrates the stiffness which plagues Elton even in his humor.
"You're So Static," a sort of revamped "Honky Tonk Women," wanders between facetiousness and heavy metal.
"I've Seen the Saucers," someone's wistful wish to be taken away from mundanity deus ex machina, is made irrelevant by last-minute, out-of-context science fiction sounds meant to be taken seriously.
The overlong "Stinker" convincingly proves Elton John is not a soul singer.
The centerpiece fiasco, however, is the melodramatic seven-and-a-half-minute finale, "Ticking," which fails not through musical ambiguity but from an appalling combination of simplemindedness, over-reaching and opportunism in the material itself. All alone at the piano (with a synthesizer adding tension), Elton "simply" unfolds this maudlin tale of a young man from a repressive background who goes berserk in a New York bar and shoots 14 people. Victim of society and a Catholic upbringing, he is a reluctant psychopath ("Promising to hurt no one, providing they were still") and when at last the fellow snaps and starts shooting, it is "with tear-filled eyes." The killings are dispensed with in half a phrase, their only apparent significance to set into motion the vindictive forces which for some reason are determined to exterminate this peculiar hero. In the presence of "the media machine" the understood murderer is cut down while surrendering, and he poetically expires in one-stanza slow-motion "on the vengeance of the law." Only in America. Queens, no less.
This selection ends, as do nearly half of the album's ten tracks, in an extended and pretentious synthesized drone. Each use of this device underscores not the intended emotion but, instead, the aridity of what has been, for one reason or another, a startlingly empty experience.
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