Songs from the West Coast is the twenty-seventh studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released worldwide on 1 October 2001. Many critics have said that this album brought him back to his piano-based musical roots. He once again collaborated with long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin. Drummer Nigel Olsson returns to the band full-time. Tata Vega makes an early appearance as a backup vocalist and joined the EJ band later. This album marks the first time John and Taupin wrote together in person. From the album, "I Want Love" was a single and a Grammy nominated song, and "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" and "Original Sin" also became hits. None of the songs from this album hit the Billboard Hot 100, which froze John's record of 31 years with at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100 (30 with at least one in the top 40). George Strait tied that record on the Country charts in 2011. Stevie Wonder, who previously worked with John for the songs "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" and "That's What Friends Are For", played harmonica and clavinet on "Dark Diamond".
Patrick Leonard produced the album and played keyboards on several songs, as was the case for The Road to El Dorado soundtrack. Guy Babylon, Bob Birchand John Mahon, three of John's band members at the time, do not appear on this album.
The restaurant shown on the album's cover is Rae's Restaurant, which is frequently used as a location for many Los Angeles-based film shoots, including 1993's True Romance and 2005's Lords of Dogtown. John's partner David Furnish and his Director of Operations Bob Halley appear on the album cover: Furnish as a cowboy at the bar and Halley as the man getting handcuffed.
In an interview with Jon Wiederhorn in 2001, John revealed that the album was recorded using analogue tape as he believes "the voice and instruments sound warmer".
In 2002, the album was repackaged as a special edition containing a bonus disc with remixes, b-sides and non-album singles from the time of its release.
- 2 Track listing
- 3 B-sides
- 4 Music videos
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Accolades
- 7 Charts
- 8 References
For the most part, Songs from the West Coast was warmly received by music critics. Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine was glad that Elton made a record that sounded like his classic albums from the early seventies, even though he still included some adult contemporary material. Erlewine went on to say that the record doesn't have all the "warmth" of his classic albums, but that it is still the best album he has made in years. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly that the album effectively sounds like Elton's early recordings. He feels that Taupin's lyrics, such as "American Triangle", devalues the song, but on other times makes Elton "liberated". Jane Stevenson, writing for Jam! CANOE, felt glad that Elton returned to his roots, even if he doesn't quite make it there. Barry Walters of Rolling Stone knew that back-to-the-roots albums by artist rarely work, but Elton was able to make it work on Songs from the West Coast even if some songs, such as "American Triangle" and "The Emperor's New Clothes", miss the mark, others like "I Want Love" effectively manage to sound like his earlier work.
- "The Emperor's New Clothes" – 4:28
- "Dark Diamond" – 4:26
- "Look Ma, No Hands" – 4:22
- "American Triangle" – 4:49
- "Original Sin" – 4:49
- "Birds" – 3:51
- "I Want Love" – 4:35
- "The Wasteland" – 4:21
- "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes" – 4:52
- "Love Her Like Me" – 3:58
- "Mansfield" – 4:56
- "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" – 4:39
- "Your Song" (With Alessandro Safina) – 4:21
- "Teardrops" (With Lulu) – 4:46
- "The North Star" – 5:32
- "Original Sin" (Junior's Earth Mix) (Edit) – 3:55
- "Your Song" (With Alessandro Safina) (Almighty Mix) (Edit) – 4:31
- "I Want Love" (video)
- "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" (video)
- "Your Song" (video)
|"God Never Came There" (3:51)||"I Want Love" CD (UK)|
|"The North Star" (5:28)||"I Want Love" CD (UK)|
|"Did Anybody Sleep with Joan of Arc" (4:20)||"This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" (UK)|
The music video for the song "I Want Love" was directed by Matthew Bice and featured actor Robert Downey Jr. lip-synching to the song. He was the only one to appear in the video. The entire video is one long shot where the camera follows Downey from room to room of a large empty house (Greystone Mansion).
The music video for the song "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" featured Justin Timberlake portraying a young Elton.
The music video for the song "Original Sin" featured Elizabeth Taylor and Mandy Moore. It also featured John playing the father of Moore's character and the husband of Taylor's character. Moore was the centre of the video, who plays a huge Elton John fan from the 1970s who is transported by a dream (à la The Wizard of Oz) to one of his concerts, where she socialises with various celebrities of the period (Bette Midler, Sonny and Cher, Barbra Streisand, etc.) played by look-alikes. Then at the end she wakes up and Elton's character asks, "Who is this Elton John, anyway?" It also has more of an upbeat dance mix to the music.
- Rusty Anderson: guitars, electric guitars, bozouki
- Gary Barlow: backing vocals
- Jay Bellerose: percussion
- Paul Buckmaster: horn and string arrangements, conductor
- Paul Bushnell: bass guitar, backing vocals
- Matt Chamberlain: drums, percussion
- David Channing: acoustic guitar, dobro
- Bruce Gaitsch: acoustic guitar
- Elton John: piano, harmonium, vocals
- Davey Johnstone: acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, backing vocals
- Kudisan Kai: backing vocals
- Patrick Leonard: Hammond B-3 organ, mellotron, keyboards
- Nigel Olsson: drums, backing vocals
- Billy Preston: electric and Hammond B-3 organs
- Tata Vega: backing vocals
- Rufus Wainwright: harmony vocals on "American Triangle"
- Stevie Wonder: clavinet and harmonica on "Dark Diamond"
|Songs from the West Coast||Best Pop Vocal Album||Nominated|
|"I Want Love"||Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male||Nominated|