|Personnel: Eric Clapton, Gene Black, Roland Orzabal (vocals, guitar); John Oates (vocals, electric guitar); Nancy Treadlight (vocals, strings); Tim Cappello (vocals, saxophone, horns, organ, tambourine); Phil Collins (vocals, piano, drums); Kenny Moore, Oleta Adams, Bruce Hornsby (vocals, piano); Daryl Hall, Ollie Marland, Kate Bush (vocals, keyboards); Bob Feit (vocals, bass guitar); Billy Nicholls, Bruce Johnson, Ian Wilson, Adrian Baker, Jeff Peters, Jon Bon Jovi, Al Jardine, Mike Love , Sin?ad O'Connor, Tessa Niles, Tina Turner, Carl Wilson , Carol Kenyon (vocals); Phil Grande, Daryl Stuermer, Chrissy Shefts, Jerry Stevenson, Jeff Golub, Alan Murphy, Aldo Nova, Michael Landau, Phil X. , George Marinelli Jr. (guitar); Elliot Easton (electric guitar); Don Teschner (mandolin); Richard Greene (violin); Chris Cameron (strings, piano); David Clayton (strings); Davy Spillane (Uilleann pipe); Alistair Anderson (concertina); Danny Jacobs (oboe); Andy Hamilton (woodwinds, French horn); Dan Higgins, Deric Dyer (saxophone); George Young (alto saxophone); Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone); Ronnie Cuber (baritone saxophone); Alan Rubin (trumpet); Dave Bargeron (trombone); Pheonix Horns (brass); Greg Phillinganes, John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Randy Kerber (piano); Glen Ballard (electric piano, synthesizer); Steve Winwood (organ); Ian Lynne (keyboards, programming); Chris Stainton, Lyndon Connah, David Bryan, Howie Bertolo, Kevin Savigar, T-Bone Wolk, John Thomas , Bob Mayo (keyboards); Robbie Konor, John Miles, Alan Clark, Michael Boddicker (synthesizer); Kasim Sulton (bass guitar); John Cushon, David Palmer , Michael Braun, John Molo, Steve Holley, Charlie Morgan , Jack Bruno, Tico Torres, Steve Ferrone (drums); John "J.R." Robinson (cymbals); Carol Steele (tambourine); Sammy Figueroa (percussion); Jon Astley (programming).
|Two Rooms is a wildly uneven star-studded tribute to a wildly uneven superstar songwriting team. Though Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote many of the best pop songs of the '70s and '80s, they have written more than their fair share of clunkers as well. Some of them were chosen for this collection. Tina Turner, for example, tackles the ludicrously juvenile "The Bitch Is Back" and somehow manages to make it even worse. Daryl Hall and John Oates don't fare any better with the embarrassingly outdated disco anthem "Philadelphia Freedom." But most of the songs on Two Rooms are drawn from Elton and Bernie's A-list and some of them really illustrate the depth of their songwriting abilities. Sin?ad O'Connor finds the tortured soul of the 1989 divorce song "Sacrifice" in a way that the original recording never did. George Michael's radiant tenor lights a fire under "Tonight," another song about a disintegrating relationship. Sting gives the album's most memorable performance, bringing haunted melancholy to the seldom heard "Come Down in Time." Unfortunately, many of the artists are not that sensitive to their chosen songs. Wilson Phillips makes a chipper dentist's office ballad out of the heart-rending elegy "Daniel," while Jon Bon Jovi brings unwanted screech rock bluster to "Levon" and Rod Stewart turns the gentle, charming sap of "Your Song" into noxious, gooey sap. The record succeeds in conveying the enormous influence and productivity of the collaboration between John and Taupin. But it sometimes makes you think they've been just a bit too prolific and that their influence might not always be a good one. ~ Evan Cater