“Come Together: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”: Laughton Kora about being Elton
Some albums are like your own time machine. Hit play, and you’re taken back through the decades to your teenage years.
Mine was dumped on an island of faded pink candle wick: a grated bedspread in a dilapidated bedroom in Whanganui, with a canvas on the walls where the old wallpaper had peeled off. Above me, a deeply homoerotic poster in which David Bowie gazed through tangerine racing glasses, all cheekbones and boredom, his wrists draped over the handlebars of a monkey-shaped motorcycle.
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I spent years lying on this bedspread listening to music, the records I played a cheap ticket out of town. One album that received a beating was Elton John’s seventh, Goodbye yellow brick road. A double LP, it came out in 1973, when I was 12 years old.
Even the album cover was about escape. There’s Elton on the cover, taking his leave of the grimy brick lanes of England, entering a technicolor Wizard of Oz displayed while wearing sequined platforms and a satin touring jacket with her own name on it.
Goodbye yellow brick road is as padded as your grandma’s couch, as sentimental as a sad puppy Hallmark card. He tries too hard to please, like a nervous dinner host. I liked it.
This is the sound of Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin – fresh from huge hits with Daniel and Rock Crocodile – deliberately create a blockbuster, tack stylistically to attract new fans, dazed with ideas, some of which were better than others.
Candy and Ronnie, have you ever seen them? Oh, but they’re so far apart. With its false crowd noise and its glorious revolving piano, Bennie and the JetsStill excites me to this day – the perfect evocation of a teenager knocked down by a brilliant band, the look just as important as the sound.
Album opening Funeral of a Friend / Love Lies Bleedingis a noisy melodrama, pumped up for stadium shows. Gray seal, The ballad of Danny Bailey, I saw this movie tooIn addition to this, you need to know more about it., HarmonyIn addition to this, you need to know more about it.. All the rippers. The title song? Gold too.
Yes, there are shocking ones. Originally praising Marilyn Monroe before being reassigned after Princess Diana’s death I would be happy never to hear Candle in the windonce again in my life. Want some white-boy reggae? Jamaica handjob is all up to you.
“You have to admit it’s an incredible record, isn’t it?” Said Laughton Kora, who will soon be performing in an all-star live version of the album on stage with Jon Toogood, Luke Buda, Mel Parsons and Deva Mahal among others.
“When you practice with the band and start breaking down songs from Goodbye yellow brick road, you realize how great a writer Elton John was, ”he tells me via a cell phone from Invercargill.
Kora is pretty much a life sentence in the music industry. Recently saw the mentoring of aspiring candidates on TVNZ Pop stars, he started playing music with his father’s band in Whakatāne when he was 6 years old.
At 17, he won the 1991 Smokefree Rockquest with high school band Aunty Beatrice, then performed for nearly a decade alongside his four brothers in a self-proclaimed “alien funk” outfit, Kora.
Now in his late forties, he’s also an actor and relentless creative soul who will give almost anything a squeeze if he thinks there’s fresh juice in it. A few months ago, Kora was on tour with a string quartet, now he’s turning to Elton.
“I can’t wait, man, because I love the music from that era. In the ’70s, it was not uncommon to have two solos and two key changes on an eight-minute song, and the lyrics were those epic tales that eschewed the usual basic rhymes and really stretched to evoke songs. more complex feelings.
Strangeness and ambition were celebrated. Kora mentions that of Led Zeppelin stairway to Heaven, Eagles’ California Hotel and the queen Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Elton John is in that kind of territory for me. Very moving songs were falling from him on those records from the early ’70s, and they had real clarity in the feelings they expressed, while still keeping a bit of courage in the playing. The staging was also important. You had to get on stage and bring something more than great songs, so Elton, Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Pink Floyd were getting a little quirky and theatrical, amplifying the art rather than just delivering a few tracks.
Nostalgia is not what it used to be. There’s money in there, and fun too, I guess, which is why there has been a surge of these “classic album” tours recently.
Last year, a rotating cast of local rock, pop and folk musicians came together under the “Come Together” banner to have a blast at Neil Young’s. Bright rust, Dire Straits’ Brothers in arms and the beatles Abbey Route.
These shows were a huge success, so three more tours related to the album will be offered this year: Elton’s Goodbye yellow brick road of course, as well as an overview of Quentin Tarantino pulp Fiction/Tank dogs soundtracks and the beatles All you need is love.
Kora will perform on all three tours alongside a cast of fellow students, with three different orchestras featured in the latest Beatles shows.
“Like you say, the main reason people come is nostalgia, but that’s not a bad thing. These shows don’t just remind you of great songs; they remind you of who you were. Some music is strongly associated with your education and your first experiences, eh? But the important thing for us is not to do simple covers, but to make these songs our own. “
He points out that all of the featured local artists started doing covers before making their own music.
“As a musician you gradually develop your own distinctive sound, so that everyone on stage will add their own tone, color and style to the mix. They might be familiar songs, but people want to see my version, or Jon Toogood’s version, or whatever. They want us to take these songs to places that only we can take them. “
You will hear electric music, solid walls of sound. But what sort of heckling can bettors expect? How will this disparate “Come Together” collective reshape Elton John’s dusty but beloved ballads? Kora doesn’t say anything, because he doesn’t know. They haven’t even split the songs yet.
We talk for a while about the music that illuminated our own early years. Mention is made of Bowie and Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest, Motown and Jimi Hendrix, Al Green and Earth, Wind & Fire.
See you later, alligator. We both remember Elton John on TV, crashing into our living rooms wearing a jeweled swim cap and feathered peacock tail, singing Rock Crocodile in the middle of a swamp on The puppet show, with Animal thundering on drums and crocodile puppets singing the chorus.
“Dude, this is still one of my favorite performances of all time. So many people still remember it, eh? I think music is sometimes about the memories as much as the songs themselves, because the music helped you get through it. It helped you recharge during your good times and relieve you in your bad times, so that the music you loved in your early years will always have special meaning even when you are 70 years old. You can also see him on stage at these shows. Some of the people who come are quite old. Looks like they’re about to come out, but here they are, man, giving out heaps, dancing in the aisles.
Come Together: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road performs at the Wellington Opera House on July 15; Isaac Theater Royal in Christchurch on July 16 and The Civic, Auckland on July 17. Tickets via Ticketmaster and Ticketek.