Albums are more like parties: Elton John performs duets in The Lockdown Sessions with everyone from Glen Campbell and Stevie Wonder to Lil Nas X.

Elton John                               The Lockdown Sessions                            Available now


‘Don’t shoot me,’ Elton John once said. ‘I’m only the piano player.’ It’s a good line that has become less and less accurate.

Sir Elton, now 74, is a respected DJ, philanthropist, and canny businessman. Rocket Music was his first venture. Rocket Pictures saw him take a gamble on Ed Sheeran, a young busker. Rocket Pictures turned his addictions into a blockbuster movie. Rocket Sports sees him representing Laura Kenny, a cyclist.

And he’s still hungry for hits. After a 16 year gap, he returned to No. 1 last weekend with Cold Heart. It was a mashup of Rocket Man and other old songs featuring Dua lipa, the woman of this moment. 

At 74, Sir Elton (above) is now a respected DJ, a formidable philanthropist and a canny businessman. With Rocket Music, he took a punt on a young busker called Ed Sheeran

Sir Elton (above), 74, is now a respected DJ and a powerful philanthropist. He’s also a capable businessman. Rocket Music was his first venture into a young musician called Ed Sheeran.

Now comes an album, bringing us 15 more duets recorded after the pandemic had the gall to interrupt Elton’s farewell tour.

As albums go, it’s more like a party. There are 22 guests, which is enough to stage an entire football match. The late crooner Glen Campbell is on the right; Lil Nas X, a gay rapper, is on the left; everyone in between, from Stevie Wonder to Stevie Nicks, is on the middle.

The heart is the key to variety. Elton, who is a musical omnivore loves to listen to country, gospel and hip-hop. He covers everything from Metallica to the Pet Shop Boys in just two covers.

The trouble is that there may be only one person on Earth who’s going to enjoy all this. His enthusiasm is infectious, but his quality control is poor. Half of the tracks feel more like B sides, which are likable but weak.

Chosen Family, a song about finding your tribe, is the highlight. It was sung with emotion by Rina Sawayama, Elton, and Chosen Family. Finish Line, featuring Stevie Wonder (conventional, but endearing) and The Pink Phantom with Gorillaz (eccentric, but effective) are the runners-up. 

Damon Albarn’s skill at straddling genres might have come in handy throughout.

There is one notable near-absentee – Elton’s lifelong lyricist, Bernie Taupin, whose words are heard only in Cold Heart. His long and winding metaphors can be maddening, but they’re distinctive. 

Without him, Elton ends up singing: ‘Fire is hot, burn burn burn.’ Come back, Bernie, all is forgiven.